When The John Locke Foundation Validates A Collective Voice For Teachers and Red4EdNC

In today’s online edition of The News & Observer, T. Keung Hui published a piece focusing on the Red4EdNC movement and its initiative to create a teacher congress in helping advance the momentum of May 16th’s teacher rally in Raleigh and keep pressure on the NC General Assembly to fully fund public schools (https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article214446374.html).

The purpose, the framework, and the goals of Red4EdNC were reported. Even it’s “Declaration of Independence” along with its introductory video were posted for all to view.

declaration

As any reporter would do, Hui asked an opinion of someone who may have an inclination to disagree with the motives of teachers taking collective action. In this case, it was Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation.

The teacher writing this post is proudly part of the Red4EdNC movement. And I am very aware of Dr. Stoops’s positions. Many have been discussed on this blog. But rarely does there come a time when I read Dr. Stoops’s comments and / or op-eds and feel completely validated.

Because that’s exactly what he did for me and others who may believe in what Red4EdNC is trying to accomplish.

Hui states,

The declaration calls for creation of the Teachers Congress. It also calls for actions such as increasing per-pupil spending and teacher salaries to pre-recession levels, with an adjustment for inflation, and “cessation of taxation policies which favor individuals over the corporate good.”

Then Stoops is reported as saying,

“Ironically the founders issued the Declaration of Independence to protest that taxation was too high. and Red4Ed issued their declaration to declare that taxes on people and individuals are not high enough,” said Stoops of the Locke Foundation.

Actually, it seems that Stoops missed the point of the original Declaration of Independence. What the Founding Fathers were protesting was taxation without representation. And representation is what is central to Red4EdNC’s mission.

As the “vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation, a group that’s been supportive of the Republican-led General Assembly,” Stoops has shown favoritism to a  group that has done anything but allow for representation in the recently “passed” budget.

Literally after a representative body that included nearly a fifth of the teaching force which caused almost half of the school systems in the state to close, the NCGA that Stoops supports did the very thing that the Founding Fathers would have never agreed to: pass the budget through a committee report and not through dialogue.

No debate. No amendments. No representation.

And that budget was not as helpful to public education as it should have been. Additionally, that budget is supposed to work for and be representative of the people of North Carolina. But this state has a Voter ID amendment coming to the ballot that when previously pushed as a bill was struck down in the courts because it was really voter suppression. Furthermore, the very NCGA that Stoops supports has had to redraw district lines because of gerrymandering along racial lines.

That May 16th march and rally was to make voices heard.

But while Stoops may want to spin the Founding Fathers’ intentions to make it appear that Red4EdNC wants to increase taxes, he may want to take a look at another piece that T. Keung Hui recently published from the North Carolina Influencer Series.

About the Influencer Series:

This election year, the Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun want to elevate policy discussions and make sure candidates focus on the most important issues. We’ve assembled a panel of 60 influential North Carolinians and will survey them throughout the year to get their views (https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/influencers/article212212939.html). 

On July 2nd, one of those “discussions” was published – “NC Influencers say state needs to give schools enough money and close achievement gap.”

It starts,

Public schools need to receive adequate funding to ensure the continued health of North Carolina, according to a new survey of some of the state’s most influential leaders.

A group of 60 North Carolina Influencers — comprised of leaders in the state’s political, business, academic and faith communities — were asked about the importance of 14 different education topics. Nearly all the Influencers listed adequate funding as being very important, saying that taking care of that issue would help solve a variety of other problems affecting the state’s K-12 education system (https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/influencers/article213909629.html). 

Further along it is reported,

After adequate funding, the 57 Influencers who responded listed closing the racial achievement gap and increasing teacher pay as their next two highest concerns. Making schools safer, creating universal pre-K, boosting vocational education and closing the rural-urban divide were also rated as very important by at least half the respondents.

One of those Influencers is Art Pope who co-founded the John Locke Foundation for which Dr. Stoops works.

I wonder how Stoops would respond to all of the Influencers who seem to want “to declare that taxes on people and individuals are not high enough.”

What the majority of the Influencers call for is exactly what those 19,000 teachers called for on May 16th – fully funding public schools in a state whose NCGA boasts of a surplus, takes federal money earmarked for Pre-K education and funnels it back into the general coffers, and passes legislation that could shift the burden of funding many public school functions to local governments through property taxes.

Red4EdNC is calling for a representative body to help influence the government to fully fund schools, A representative body just like the Founding Fathers asked for as explained in many an overused textbook in overcrowded classrooms in North Carolina.