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LETTER — Legislators defunding education gambling with our children’s future | Robesonian



To The Editor:

The North Carolina State Constitution Title IX section 2 (a) (b) specifies a free public school system that provides for equal opportunity for all. Currently, North Carolina allocates about $7,500 per K-12 public school student, and counties supplement that amount from property tax revenue. Robeson County, allocates around $700 per student each year. Wake County, with higher property tax revenues, adds around $3,000 per student. The money, calculated per student, actually funds all areas of operations, salaries, text books, maintenance and repair, and school supplies. Robeson County is also facing a critical teacher shortage.

Robeson’s and Wake’s disparity in the ability to pay forms the core of the Leandro case. When the law was passed, 30 years ago, it was intended to address that funding inequality. Unfortunately, the North Carolina legislature failed to fund it. In 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the initial ruling that the state must release $1.7 billion to pay teachers, principals, and programs for students – kindergarten through 12th grade. This year, 2024, the funding was blocked on the third judicial review.

The Republican led Legislature has taken more than $1 billion of tax dollars out of the Public School Fund, as of this year, to fund the voucher program. Officially named the “Opportunity Scholarship Program”, the voucher program should be called the “Chance To Get A Private School Voucher Paid For With Tax Dollars” program. The chance to obtain a voucher is two-fold. First, you have to fill out a form listing household income. Second, after your household income is verified, and financially qualified applicants are put into a random lottery. If your name is chosen, you must look at a list of private schools that participate in the program. The caveats here are that private schools are neither compelled to accept your student nor teach your student an approved curriculum. Additionally, the voucher might not cover all tuition costs and fees. By school year 2032 – 2033, the Legislature will have diverted $5 billion from the Public School Fund into unregulated private schools through the voucher program.

Federal Funds are also available to help provide funding for public school programs and teachers in low income areas. Robeson County gets a share of that money. This year, 2024, Republicans in the US House of Representatives has proposed cutting about $20 billion from these programs. If the Republican led US House of Representatives is successful, that funding will go away, too. Republicans, in North Carolina, eagerly accept praise for obtaining this additional funding while supporting the National Republican Party’s platform to end it.

If North Carolina continues to defund public education, public schools in Robeson County will fail. Jobs that require little education are rapidly disappearing. Soon, a larger and larger percentage of our citizens, who have been denied a quality education, will not be qualified to enter the work force and our economy will not thrive. The Republican led Legislatures, both in North Carolina and Nationally, are gambling with our children’s future. They are hurting people who are already struggling.

Kathy Batt


The Robesonian welcomes letters to the editor from individuals. Letters longer than 400 words may be edited for length. Please: No poetry, letters in bad taste or libelous. Letters my s include your name, address and phone number. for confirmation only. Send letters by email to Executive Editor David Kennard, at [email protected].

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