From the desk of Senator Joyce Waddell

Access to sound basic education for All

Joyce Waddell

CHARLOTTE, NC- More than two decades after a landmark state Supreme Court ruling, NC moves a step closer to assuring every child access to a “sound, basic education.”

A North Carolina judge seemed to agree with an independent consultant’s report that says North Carolina needs to spend $8 billion over the next eight years to meet its constitutional obligation to provide a “sound, basic education.”

That is one takeaway after Superior Court Judge David Lee signed a consent order Tuesday in which defendants and plaintiffs in the long-running Leandro case agreed to work “expeditiously and without delay” to create and implement a plan.

In 2004, the state Supreme Court felt that the state’s efforts to provide a sound basic education to poor children were inadequate. The court did not prescribe specific solutions; that was left up to legislators and education leaders.

"The order gives the parties in the case 60 days to present a plan to address seven components in the WestEd report, including:

▪ A system of teacher development and recruitment that ensures each classroom is staffed with a high-quality teacher who is supported with early and ongoing professional learning and provided competitive pay.

▪ A system of principal development and recruitment that ensures each school is led by a high-quality principal who is supported with early and ongoing professional learning and provided competitive pay.

▪ A finance system that provides adequate, equitable and predictable funding to school districts and, importantly, adequate resources to address the needs of all North Carolina schools and students, especially at-risk students as defined by the Leandro decisions.

▪ A system of early education that provides access to high-quality prekindergarten and other early childhood learning opportunities to ensure that all students at-risk of educational failure, regardless of where they live in the State, enter kindergarten on track for school success." Superior Court Judge David Lee writes.

The order comes ahead of this year’s elections, where control at the General Assembly are at stake. The Majority legislative leaders have criticized the WestEd report while the minority lawmakers have used it to argue the state isn’t doing enough on education.

"It is the duty of the state to provide adequate funding for education. The North Carolina Constitution states that the General Assembly shall provide by taxation for free public schools. I would study the spending of the Education Lottery and request that those funds be used for education as was recommended when the lottery was instituted." said Senator Joyce Waddell.