Before Someone Claims That “We Will Have To Raise Taxes On People To Fully Fund NC Schools,” Tell Him To Consider These Measures First

One of the better political cartoons of 2019 came from Dennis Draughon at Capitol Broadcasting. It represented a Thanksgiving dinner where teachers and schools are sitting at a smaller table waiting to see what they will be given after everything was carved out for corporations and political interests.

Sen. Phil Berger threw a wishbone to those at the smaller table while he gluttonously partakes of the taxpayer-provided “meal.”

And yet many are blaming teachers and schools for wanting to be fully funded because there is a narrative that to do so would raise taxes on people.

Well, before that happens, maybe consider:

  1. Stop extending massive tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people. Maybe we as a state should not keep extending more corporate tax cuts for businesses and people who make significantly more than the average North Carolinian. We haven’t really seen the trickle-down effect from that here in our schools.
  2. Invest the budget surplus into our schools. The fact that there is such a huge surplus in this state’s budget while yet another round of large corporate tax cuts took hold this year is not really a sign of fiscal responsibility.
  3. Refund Unused Opportunity Grant Money. The money that this state has “invested” in vouchers has not even been totally used – maybe about half. That amounts to millions of dollars that could be put into public schools.
  4. In fact, do away with the Opportunity Grants. We should not invest almost a billion dollars’ worth into a voucher scheme over a ten-year period when it has not shown any real success and put that back into the public schools. No study has conclusively said that vouchers actually improve public educational outcomes because of “competition.” In fact, North Carolina’s version is the least transparent in the nation.
  5. Highly regulate the ESA’s and allow them to be spent on public schools as well. How about taking some of the money earmarked for Special Needs Education Savings Accounts (which might be one of the most unregulated versions in the country – just look at Arizona) and allowing parents to invest it back into services for their children in public schools?
  6. Not extend so much money into new unregulated charter schools. No report on the state level has shown they are working in the way that charter schools were intended to work: to be laboratories for public schools to find new ways of teaching and bring back to traditional schools to help all students. Instead many are run by private entities.
  7. Dissolve the Innovative School District. There is not community buy-in and all models of such “reforms” have proven to not help. Furthermore, it is giving money to a private entity. Besides look at the turnover rate of the people who are supposed to run the ISD.
  8. Repeal HB514. Bill Brawley’s Municipal Charter Bill bill is nothing more than legalized segregation and allows for municipalities to ask for county property taxes to create charter schools that only service certain zip codes. In essence it allows for more property taxes to be used to fund local schools and possibly state mandates.
  9. Allow ballot measures for school bonds to remain on the ballot. Remember when this was taken off the ballot in 2018? Let the voters actually decide, especially after destructive hurricanes destroyed so much in the eastern part of our state.
  10. Pass the budget in a democratic process. No more “nuclear options” to pass a state budget.  No more “stalling” like with this year’s budget. Let the democratic process have its say. That means debate and amendments and actually voting on veto-overrides.
  11. Consider who has been elected through unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts who also champion bad budgeting policies. Didn’t Phil Berger get his district lines changed to avoid having Guilford County being in his district?

Then we can start talking about “raising taxes.”

Besides, out kids are worth it.