Effective Discipline: Bringing Classroom Strategies to a State Constitutional Crisis

I. Introduction

K-12 teachers mete out some form of justice daily: hearing claims, weighing evidence, determining consequences, with context fundamentally shaping our response to any offense.  Students who admit their clear wrongdoing, show intent to change course, and have strong self-regulation skills to implement change, get a very different response than those who deny, delay, scapegoat, or are duplicitous.  The judicial branch's absence of response to North Carolina's offense, namely its failure to adequately uphold the Leandro v. State[1] case ruling requiring a "sound basic education," has compounded injustice for the state’s students.[2]  Furthermore, the courts’ failure to be more prescriptive and firm in enforcement, despite the clear record of obfuscation, scapegoating, and paralysis by the offending state government, has led thousands of public education supporters to participate in two day-long strikes to demand more funding for public schools.

Article IX of the North Carolina State Constitution specifically addresses public education. Section 2 lays out the duty of state and local governments to provide a uniform system of free public schools “wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”[3]

In 1994, families and school districts in five rural counties sued North Carolina, claiming their communities lacked money to provide an education equal to those of wealthier districts.  Urban districts also asserted that the state was not providing adequate resources to educate poor, special education, and limited-English proficient students. The 1997 landmark decisionstated that all children in North Carolina have a constitutional right to “sound basic education,”[4] and that it is the constitutional duty of the state, not districts, to fulfill that right.

The Leandro ruling derived from the fundamental moral precept that all North Carolina's children should have a degree of equal opportunity via the provision of a sound basic education.  Subsequent judicial oversight has indicated a tendency to trust the other branches of government to determine their own remedy, despite structural and political realities that make that unlikely.[5]  Twenty years after the ruling, little discernible progress has been made in funding the public schools more equitably or effectively, particularly in rural areas.[6]

Teachers on the front lines, who are most aware of this lack of progress, have sought redress through First Amendment actions, electioneering, and participation in bureaucratic processes.  These methods have proven largely ineffective.  While exercising their frustrations by the tens of thousands in the streets on May 16, 2018 and May 1, 2019 might have been cathartic for participants, a robust response by the courts would be warranted, less disruptive to public order, and more effective.  Unfortunately, the opportunity for the courts to be more forceful may be closing due to attacks on the independence of the judiciary.

II. The Lawmaking Body Engages in Denial, Scapegoating and Duplicity in Response to Charges

Denial.  Over the last ten years, legislative majorities have presented deceptive statistics in the media to confuse voters about cuts to school funding.  North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger wrote in a recent editorial, “Since assuming power in 2011, Republicans have increased annual K-12 school investments for seven consecutive years. The 2018-19 school budget is the highest in state history, nearly 35 percent more than 2010 spending levels.”[7]  Adjusted for inflation using 2018 dollars, North Carolina schools on average have lost $6,549 per student since the 2008-2009 school year.[8] That equates to a loss of $130,980 over the last ten years for every K-3 classroom in the state, and more for each classroom in the upper grades since they have larger class sizes.  The Great Recession generated initial cuts but does not explain why the 2019 budget, proposed by the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) conference (as of June 25, 2019), per pupil expenditure remains 2.9 percent below prerecession funding.[9]

To deny fault and confuse the public, lawmakers have emphasized the increase in total education spending (24 percent), yet disregard inflation (15 percent increase) and the additional 94,401 students (6.5 percent) North Carolina public schools welcomed into their classrooms since 2008.[10]  While total nominal spending has increased two billion dollars, real education funding increased only $760 million. Once student population growth is integrated, real per pupil expenditure in 2018 is $115 less than in 2008.  Legislators frequently try to garner public education “street cred” for the NCGA by touting education spending as the largest portion of the state budget. Speaker of the House Tim Moore recently said, “Public schools remain the top priority of the North Carolina General Assembly’s spending plan with more than half of state dollars budgeted to education in the proposal.”[11]  As reinforced by Leandro, education is the state’s major responsibility, so its size in the budget should not be surprising; there is a consistent, clear record, however, of a legislature decreasing, not increasing real resources, and misleading the public about that fact.

Scapegoating.  Because North Carolina’s constitution mandates that the state cannot run budget deficits, massive tax cuts have prevented restoration of per pupil funding to prerecession levels.  In 2013, the NCGA changed the tax code and reduced corporate and individual income taxes.  The 2013 corporate income tax rate was 6.9 percent but by 2019 shrank to 2.5 percent. Individual income taxes changed from a progressive structure with rates 6 to 7.75 percent to a proportional rate that now sits at 5.25 percent for all.[12]

As the state cut taxes while concurrently encouraging population growth, local governments were left to pay for expanded infrastructure for the growing population.  As Wake County Manager David Ellis said when presenting his recommended budget this year, “Growth doesn’t pay for itself.”[13]  Schools have borne the brunt of this growth as Wake County alone uses more than 1,000 trailer classrooms.[14]  The typical education funding relationship in North Carolina is local governments pay for school construction and facilities, and the state pays for staff and resources.  When state government purposefully invites population growth, it should support local governments in accommodating this growth.  However, a statewide school construction bond has not been issued since 1996, and in 2017, a bipartisan school construction bond bill failed to pass the NCGA.[15]  Two school infrastructure plans were unveiled in 2019, but to date no infrastructure plan has been approved.[16]  The local communities’ property taxes pay for population growth, which is incentivized by state income tax policy.[17] This causes the local funding gap to persist while efforts stall toward addressing Leandroconcerns.

Rather than accept responsibility for shrinking resources and deteriorating conditions, the legislative body shifted responsibility to local districts via unfunded mandates.  In 2016, state leaders mandated a reduction in grades K-3 class sizes as part of its ongoing effort to improve early grades’ literacy outcomes.[18]  The reduction required school districts to come up with additional teachers and classrooms in order to comply.[19]  High-growth districts like Wake County beganconverting every viable space—including offices, closets and storage areas—to classrooms,[20] and many weighed cutting arts and physical education teachers to meet staffing requirements.[21]

While the state eventually provided partial funding for the staff needed to meet the legislative mandate, it included nothing for constructing additional classrooms.[22] To comply with the expensive mandate and keep up with student population growth, the Wake County School Board, lacking taxing authority, asked for ever higher budget increases from the Wake County Commissioners.  In response, the Wake County Commissioners raised property taxes five years in a row.[23]  Taxpayers, unaware that the state’s unfunded mandate and diminished per-pupil expenditures induced the problem, unleashed bitter criticism against the Commissioners, not the state legislature.[24]

County commissioners have rightly insisted it is not their responsibility to compensate for the NCGA’s shortchanging of education.  Nonetheless, communities have frequently been forced to ask their local governments to supply additional funds in order to minimize the impact on their schools.  When increases in regressive property taxes are the vehicles used to close the state’s funding gap in a county, it drives a larger wedge between rich and poor districts.  This serves as an antithesis to the North Carolina courts’ finding that it is the constitutional duty of the state, not districts, to fulfill each child’s right to a “sound basic education.”[25]

Duplicity.  In addition, the legislative body embarked on a series of reforms they claimed would improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students statewide, but evidence suggests those initiatives actually heighten inequity in our communities.

The original vision of charter schools was that a limited number would be founded, granted flexibility, and serve as laboratories of innovation that could inform practices in traditional public schools.[26] In 2011, the state’s 100 school cap on charter schools in North Carolina was lifted.[27]  In poorer rural districts like Granville County, results have been devastating as district funds must follow students who opt into charter schools.  Granville will pay out $2.65 million to charters this year, compared to $437,000 paid out during the 2012-2013 school year.  The district is now closing an elementary school and consolidating two middle schools due to the loss of over 1,000 students, which make up around 16 percent of the county’s student population.[28]  Changes in charter policy have also deepened racial and economic segregation in North Carolina’s schools, in part because charter schools are not required to provide free or reduced lunch or transportation.[29]  As middle class students move out of the system, districts have fewer dollars remaining to educate high concentrations of poor, disabled, and disadvantaged students who typically need additional, not fewer, resources.

Another failed initiative is North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship voucher program, which began in 2013.  Framed by state lawmakers as an avenue to school choice, the program provides up to $4,200 per year to assist families, whose household income is less than 133 percent of the amount required to qualify for free and reduced lunch, in sending children to private schools.[30] North Carolina’s voucher program is among the least regulated in the country,[31] and schools receiving tax dollars under the system are able to deny admission based on characteristics such as sexual orientation or religious beliefs.[32]

Since its inception, funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program has exceeded demand.[33]  In the fiscal year of 2017-2018, only $28.1 million of the $44.8 million appropriated for vouchers was used.[34]  Despite underwhelming interest in the program, state law requires its annual funding be increased by $10 million each year through 2027-2028, when it will amount to $144.8 million.[35]  Considering the amount of money funneled into the Opportunity Scholarship program, it would be reasonable to expect evidence of its effectiveness. To date, no valid studies have indicated improved academic achievement for participants;[36] research in other states, however, has found that students who attend private schools through vouchers actually perform worse on standardized tests.[37]

Even as Governor Roy Cooper has formed an Executive Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education, and Judge David Lee has appointed WestEd to conduct a remedial study[38] (the results of which remain confidential at this time), duplicity continues as new state policies claim to offer adequate resources yet task the inadequate resources of localities to fulfill these mandates.  Both the failure to provide adequate resources and the delegation of responsibility to localities defy the Leandro decision.

III.  Compounding Failure of Internal Self-Regulation Systems

In the classroom, sometimes more prescriptive discipline is needed, not because the student is engaging in denial, scapegoating, or duplicity, but because the student lacks self-regulation abilities.  If a student lacks the ability to self-regulate (due to a disability, for example), the plan to address the roots of misbehavior must be very prescriptive; a behavior modification plan with specific goals, timelines and detailed processes would be required under law.  If a government lacks the ability to self-regulate due to structural and systemic political realities (like political gerrymandering, for example), remedies should be similarly prescriptive.  The structural and systemic political realities in North Carolina are unique and do indeed thwart self-regulation via democratic processes or civic participation.

Dilution of the Vote and Representativeness of Government.  After coming to power in the 2010 election, North Carolina’s Republican legislators redrew electoral districts using racial and partisan data.[39]  While those maps have been the subject of continual court battles ever since, they have allowed Republicans to maintain a stranglehold on the state legislature in a traditionally purple state.

After the 2016 election, Republicans retained a veto-proof majority with 62 percent[40] of seats in the House and 70 percent[41] in the Senate despite receiving just over half of the statewide vote.  Forty-one percent of legislators ran unopposed.[42]  Citizens are disenfranchised when living in districts without electoral competition, or when their elected leader represents a numerical majority but a representative minority, because few bills supported only by the minority party are allowed by the majority party to go beyond the filing stage.

State budgets have been consistently created behind closed doors by a select few majority party lawmakers.  Minority party representatives only get to see the bills after they have been crafted and are given only a few days’ time to read the budget before its inevitable passage when brought to a floor vote.  In 2018, the NCGA passed a budget by gutting an existing bill and adding the budget language as a conference report—a secretive process that allowed for no debate or amendments to the budget whatsoever.[43]

In the 2018 election the Republicans’ legislative supermajority was broken, making the Democratic governor’s veto relevant again and setting the stage for the first true bipartisan state budget negotiations since 2012.[44]  That victory has so far been thwarted as North Carolinians have watched a nearly three month budget stalemate where legislative leaders and the governor have not met together to negotiate a compromise budget since the veto was issued on June 28.[45]  On September 11, 2019 House Speaker Tim Moore called a veto override vote after House Democrats were led to believe that the 8:30 a.m. session would be a “no-vote” session and only fifteen were present on the floor at the time.[46]  Over the protests of Democratic lawmakers on the floor, the vote in the usual 120-member House was taken and the veto was overridden along party lines 55-15.  With only a one vote veto-proof margin in the Senate, it remains to be seen (as of September 15, 2019) if North Carolina will actually see the bipartisan budget negotiations public school supporters worked hard to reinstate.

North Carolina’s gerrymandering has sharply limited the public’s ability to hold lawmakers accountable for the funding of education, which typically represents more than half of the state’s budget.  In a ruling September 3, a panel of three North Carolina Superior Court judges ruled partisan gerrymandering in state districts unconstitutional, and ordered the drawing of new maps by September 18.  In addition to setting a deadline, the court is specific in its prescription of a transparent process as new maps are created.[47]  It took nearly a decade for such a prescriptive ruling after Republican mapmakers engaged in denial, scapegoating, duplicity, and failure to self-regulate. It is therefore all the more necessary that after two decades of engaging in these same behaviors, North Carolina courts assert their authority with a more prescriptive remedy to enforce the Leandro decision.

Freedom of Assembly and Association. Freedom of assembly and association could also serve as internal self-regulating mechanisms, as they do in union states where pro-public education forces, particularly teachers, leverage their power via collective bargaining and the power to strike.  However, collective bargaining and strikes by civil servants have been illegal in North Carolina since 1959, making North Carolina one of the few states where striking teachers can be arrested for a class one misdemeanor.[48] The combination of our status as a “right to work” state and stagnating wages has caused a decline in dues-paying members of the state’s largest professional education association, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE). The legislative body took further specific actions to weaken the NCAE, most notably through efforts to eliminate the payroll deduction option for association dues.  While the courts eventually overturned that policy, legislators’ actions did have the intended effect of hurting membership in the meantime.[49]  Subsequently, significant belt tightening occurred at NCAE headquarters, and the number of full time lobbyists representing teachers at the General Assembly fell from two to one.

Petition. Another mechanism of self-regulation is petition, however a different set of structural and systematic forces has diluted the power to petition North Carolina’s state government effectively, especially regarding education policy. First, the people directly elect the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  While that seems optimal, there is no guarantee the people will choose a supporter of public education or of the constitutional Leandro mandate.  Current State Superintendent Mark Johnson was elected in 2016.  Critics allege he undermines public schools by supporting school choice via charters and vouchers,[50] and also point to his lack of support for public schools in his criticism of the May 16, 2018 and May 1, 2019 teacher marches on the grounds that they disrupted instruction.[51]  Despite Johnson’s criticism, in January 2018, he was keynote speaker at a School Choice Rally where instruction was “disrupted” so students could attend.[52]  His double standard in responding to these events led some to wonder if it was not the time and manner of the event that was the problem, but rather the content of the message.

Attempts to petition for public education reform must therefore focus on the lawmaking body, and since only one NCAE lobbyist tries to influence that body, that responsibility increasingly falls to teachers who work full-time. The General Assembly is a part-time legislature, typically meeting from January until May in even years, and until August in odd ones.  State legislators are paid a $13,951 base salary and per diems for travel and lodging.[53]  Some representatives are professionals who practice law; many are retired. As the state’s population grows, many interest groups and advocates compete for the time and attention of the 170 member part-time body.  Teachers, working full time until June in the state’s classrooms, find it challenging to access and educate their elected leaders.

Recent legislation that reorganized the high school social studies curriculum spotlights teachers’ limited power to petition.[54]  The NCGA proposed revising the social studies curriculum as a solution to poverty by requiring a personal finance course, asserting that lessons about credit card and education debt would ameliorate poverty, even while continuing policies counterproductive to decreasing wealth disparities across the state.  Senate Bill 134, the original “Economics and Financial Literacy Act,” directs students to take a “semester course . . . focused solely on Economics and Personal Finance . . . required for graduation from high school.”[55] Although this may seem to be a worthy endeavor, it is one already addressed in existing social studies curriculum required for graduation, and has been since at least the mid-1990s.[56]

With this bill, the NCGA continues to engage in denial, scapegoating, and duplicity.  Supporters have touted this bill as a cure-all for the financial struggles of North Carolinians.  However, there is no correlation between states who include study of personal finance as a graduation requirement, and lower rates of bankruptcy filings, student loan debt, or other personal debt when compared to states who do not require study of personal finance. They also fail to acknowledge the impact of double digit cuts to funding North Carolina’s university system.[57]  More extensive study of interest rates will not change the need for students to borrow more when the state fails to adequately fund colleges and universities.  At the same time, state legislators disingenuously blame consumer ignorance, 14.7 percent of North Carolinians continue to live in poverty, including over 20 percent of children—despite the assurance that corporate tax cuts would “trickle down” to workers’ wages.[58] The state’s duplicity in expressing concern for household budgets is also evident in North Carolina’s continued failure to expand Medicaid and alleviate the impact of health care costs on around five hundred thousand North Carolinians.[59]  Economic growth and job opportunities have been unevenly distributed throughout the state, perpetuating the gap that existed when the Leandrocase was filed over twenty years ago.

The structural and practical challenges that made effective petition so difficult in the curriculum revision fiasco (such as a part time legislative body and few effective education lobbyists, professional or grassroots) illuminate why mass demonstrations have become the default mode of “mass petition.”[60]  By applying for personal leave en masse, educators have found an avenue to advocacy during a legislative session by closing school systems that are overwhelmed and unable to provide for the health and safety of children with so many educators absent.  Once systems announce their closure, educators begin the hard work of logistical planning that further taxes an already stressed and overworked labor force.

While educators are evolving in en mass demonstration tactics and organization, the once yearly nature of those protests does not yet appear to create sustainable momentum for systemic change.  The May 16, 2018 march did not have any corresponding specific demands, but was a show of strength by tens of thousands of public education supporters who insisted that the NCGA raise per-pupil expenditure, increase pay for educators, and provide for capital needs.  While these demands were not directly and immediately addressed, the march garnered public interest and motivated voters to support more pro-public education candidates in the next election.  At the most recent march on May 1, 2019, educators outlined five specific demands, and where legislation did not already exist to meet those demands, Democrats in the NCGA filed bills that would address them.[61] Despite the cancellation of classes for 850,000 of North Carolina’s schoolchildren as thousands of educators and public school supporters marched to improve legislative support for their schools, no bills meeting educators’ demands made it out of committee, and none made it into the budget.[62]  The out-of-hand dismissal of these educators’ concerns shows how insulated the majority party has become from its constituents.

The Bureaucracy and Administrative Law. A final internal mechanism for remedy should be the bureaucracy and ability of education experts to influence the development and enforcement of administrative law. One policy that gave consolation to teachers fighting against the social studies curriculum change documented above was the existence of State Board of Education policy SCOS-012.[63]  Approved in March 2018,the policy requires that all curricular changes be guided by a process that is feedback-based, research-informed, improvement-oriented and process-driven.  Given the scant and flawed research used to justify the curriculum change, and a total failure to use North Carolina Final Exam score data from actual North Carolina students who have been taught and tested on the current North Carolina curriculum, it seemed obvious that the policy would slow the momentum of the proposed social studies curricular change.

Teacher advocates requested the summary test result data from no fewer than seven high ranking bureaucrats at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and two appointed state school board members.  Teachers felt certain that this data would be available because individual teacher reports include it.[64]  Tammy Howard, DPI Director of Accountability Services, stated otherwise in an email: “DPI has not conducted a data analysis on the items on NCFEs related to economics and personal finance. Unfortunately, there are not enough items to support the reporting of a proficiency score on such a subset.”

Weeks after teachers met with Lt. Governor Dan Forest’s policy expert, Jamey Falkenbury, and alerted him to the existence of these test scores, the Lt. Governor’s social media posts indicated he had received the data about student performance on NCFE tests from DPI that teachers had been refused.[65]  He posted that students score “in the 50s,” selectively omitting that it was raw data, not the final score average, and neglecting to mention that students score similarly in history and civics.  Teachers followed up with Dr. Howard but were unable to elicit a response.

Recent court actionsbetween North Carolina’s State Board of Education and State Superintendent have strengthened the State Superintendent’s authority and control over the staffing and operation of the Department of Public Instruction.[66]  Given the selective provision of what should be public information, the department might be properly characterized as a “captured agency” that serves the interests of specific groups exclusively, or it is so underfunded and staffed that the agency cannot perform basic tasks such as replying to information requests.[67]  Whatever the root of the cause, the result is the same: the bureaucracy cannot internally regulate our lawmakers' failure to uphold Leandro.

IV. Attacks on the Independent Judiciary Warrant Swift Justice

The ability of the state courts to be more prescriptive in enforcement may soon be compromised by escalating attacks on the independence of the judiciary.  North Carolina is one of only twenty-one states that elect their judges, bringing judicial independence into question.[68]  In 2017, an override of the Governor’s veto of House Bill 100 established partisan elections up and down the ballot in judicial races.[69]  As judicial districts have also been gerrymandered to Republicans’ advantage, partisan labels on the ballot benefit Republicans in judicial contests.[70]  The federal courts have indicated in the recent Rucho v. Common Cause[71] decision that they have little inclination to stop partisan redistricting, and we should rely upon state based institutions for remedy.[72]  Ironically, the state judiciary may soon find itself in the same situation as public education supporters, unable to remedy a constitutional crisis due to gerrymandering and a legislative branch that denies and delays, compounded by the inability of self-regulating systems to function appropriately. North Carolina’s courts have become like a classroom teacher on the verge of losing control of the class and in urgent need of swift, prescriptive action.

V. Conclusion

When a lawmaking body is found in violation of its own laws and Constitution, courts need to function more like teachers who render effective discipline in their classrooms for the good of the whole body.  They must tailor the prescriptiveness of their rulings to account for the political and structural realities of the situation, not hold out and assert these expectations after continued failure to remedy due to denial, scapegoating, duplicity, and structural realities that severely limit internal self-regulation.

In many ways, it seems North Carolina’s state government has made no progress toward remediating the concerns brought by the Leandro family and others over twenty years ago.  North Carolina’s state motto is “Esse Quam Videri: To be rather than to seem.”  In regards to making substantive progress in upholding the Leandro ruling, the state has pursued policies that are much more about seeming compliant than actually being compliant.  No matter where they live, students deserve policies and politicians that provide them with a “sound basic education.”  Courts must hold these representatives accountable when they injure students and the common good by maintaining the appearance of supporting public education while actively undermining it.  Given how little recourse teachers and education advocates have in effectively impacting policy through voting, exercising First Amendment rights, and bureaucratic consultation, the courts have the greatest potential to keep teachers out of the streets and in their classrooms where they would much rather be.

[1]488 S.E.2d 249(N.C. 1997).


[3]N.C.Const. art. IV, §2.

[4]Leandro, 488 S.E.2d at 254.

[5]See Rucco v. Common Cause, 18 U.S. 422 (2019), regarding gerrymandering in North Carolina.

[6]Public School Forum N.C., 2019 Local School Finance Study 2 (2019),  https://www.docdroid.net/wmKMMSZ/2019-local-school-finance-study-1.pdf[https://perma.cc/6VGP-68QA].

[7]Phil Berger, Special Interest Education Lobby is Unfair to Republicans, CBC Opinion(Apr. 26, 2019), https://www.wral.com/phil-berger-special-interest-education-lobby-is-unfair-to-republicans/18348746/[https://perma.cc/4BXD-SVZH].

[8]Educated Policy, NCGA Per Pupil Expenditure (PRE), Facebook (Apr. 21, 2019, 7:45 AM), https://www.facebook.com/educatedpolicy/photos/a.1155923964587241/1161779630668341/?type=3&theater[https://perma.cc/LH8Q-J6BW].

[9]Kris Nordstrom (@KrisNordstrom), Twitter (June 25, 2019, 9:47 PM), https://twitter.com/KrisNordstrom/status/1143697229179473921[https://perma.cc/R8GP-3WKX].

[10]N.C. Dep’t of Pub. Instruction, Highlights of the North Carolina Public School Budget(2009), http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/fbs/resources/data/highlights/2009highlights.pdf[https://perma.cc/AUP2-5A7S];N.C. Dep’t of Pub. Instruction, Highlights of the North Carolina Public School Budget(2019),http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/fbs/resources/data/highlights/2019highlights.pdf [https://perma.cc/6J32-PZUW].

[11]Admin, $24 Billion N.C. Budget Invests Heavily in School Construction and Salary Increases, Speaker Tim Moore (June 25, 2019), https://speakermoore.com/24-billion-n-c-budget-invests-heavily-school-construction-salary-increases/?fbclid=IwAR1yR05gHb-OvekNDn5WqQKq7Dn7Cblo_UpnIDmK3JkgNOfhtvYIy4CSZZI[https://perma.cc/FGS8-F6X4].

[12]Tax Rate Schedules, N.C. Dep’t of Revenue,https://www.ncdor.gov/taxes-forms/individual-income-tax/tax-rate-schedules[https://perma.cc/D3QB-3HZZ].

[13]David Ellis, Wake County Recommended Budget Fiscal Year 2020,(2020) http://www.wakegov.com/budget/fy20/Documents/FY20%20Budget%20Message%20WEB.pdf[https://perma.cc/22FF-9TNH].

[14]District Facts, Wake County Pub. Sch. Sys., https://www.wcpss.net/domain/100[https://perma.cc/384W-DVU4].

[15]Billy Ball, Facing Massive K-12 Infrastructure Needs, N.C. Lawmakers Advance $1.9 Billion School Construction Bond, Progressive Pulse (May 16, 2017), http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/05/16/facing-massive-k-12-infrastructure-needs-n-c-lawmakers-advance-1-9-billion-school-construction-bond/[https://perma.cc/WKX6-92SY].

[16]Matthew Burns, School Bond Proposal Sets Stage For Legislative Fight, WRAL (Feb. 28, 2019), https://www.wral.com/school-bond-proposal-sets-stage-for-legislative-fight/18225395/[https://perma.cc/45C7-925U].

[17]Cullen Browder, Powerful GOP Lawmaker Jabs Back at Wake Schools Over Budget, WRAL(May 8, 2019), https://www.wral.com/powerful-gop-lawmaker-jabs-back-at-wake-schools-over-budget/18374483/[https://perma.cc/SU2L-F2YR].

[18]H.R. 1030, 2015-2016 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (N.C. 2016).

[19]Annie Ma, CMS to Add Trailers, Reduce Magnet Seats to Comply with K-3 Class Size Cap, Charlotte Observer (June 28, 2019), https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article231976042.html.

[20]T. Keung Hui, Why Your Young Student’s Class is Smaller this Year - and Who is Paying the Price, News & Observer (Aug. 25, 2017), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article169332132.html.

[21]T. Keung Hui, NC Schools Say They May Cut Arts, PE to Meet New Class Size Limits, News & Observer (Jan. 18, 2017), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article127291144.html.

[22]T. Keung Hui, NC Class-Size Fix Goes to Gov. Roy Cooper. Will He Accept ‘Bitter Pill’ Add-ons?,News & Observer(Feb. 13, 2018), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article199835224.html.

[23]Shawn Taylor, Some Citizens Push Back on County’s 10 Percent Tax Hike, Wake Weekly (May 21, 2019), http://www.wakeweekly.com/stories/some-citizens-push-back-on-countys-10-percent-tax-hike,177895[https://perma.cc/K92B-HHZC].

[24]Ken Smith, Wake Commissioners Get Earful From Residents Irate Over Proposed 10 Percent Tax Increase, WRAL (May 20, 2019), https://www.wral.com/wake-commissioners-get-earful-from-residents-irate-over-proposed-10-percent-tax-increase/18399529/[https://perma.cc/U95R-C42D].

[25]Leandro v. State,488 S.E.2d 249, 254 (N.C. 1997).

[26]N.C. Gen. Stat.ch. 115C, art. 14A, § 115C-218 (2017).

[27]S.B. 8, 2011-2012 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (N.C. 2011).

[28]Greg Childress, In Some North Carolina Counties, Traditional Schools Are Being Squeezed by Charters, N.C. Policy Watch (Jan. 30, 2019), http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2019/01/30/in-some-north-carolina-counties-traditional-schools-are-being-squeezed-by-charters/[https://perma.cc/BG7V-CPZE].

[29]Kris Nordstrom, N.C. Justice Ctr.,Stymied by Segregation: How Integration Can Transform North Carolina Schools and the Lives of Its Students(2018), http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/STYMIED-BY-SEGREGATION-Integration-can-Transform-NC-FINAL-2.pdf[https://perma.cc/6FSU-NTGS].

[30]N.C. State Educ. Assistance Auth., Rules Governing the Opportunity Scholarship Program6 (2018), http://www.ncseaa.edu/pdf/Rules_OPS.pdf[https://perma.cc/N7A2-8ENZ].

[31]Children’s Law Clinic, School Vouchers in North Carolina: The First Three Years14 (2017),https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/docs/School_Vouchers_NC.pdf[https://perma.cc/G49Z-BHMS].

[32]Lindsay Wagner, Private Christian Schools Receiving Taxpayer-Funded School Vouchers Continue to Exclude Students on the Basis of Religion and Sexual Identity, WRAL(Jan. 27, 2017), https://www.wral.com/private-christian-schools-receiving-taxpayer-funded-school-vouchers-continue-to-exclude-students-on-basis-of-religion-sexual-ide/16477602/ [https://perma.cc/8CKT-R3DM].

[33]Ann Doss Helms, NC Voucher Fund Leaves Millions Unspent While Growing by $10 Million a Year, Charlotte Observer(Feb. 11, 2019), https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article225933910.html.

[34]Kris Nordstrom, Over-funded Opportunity Scholarship Vouchers Continue to Drain Resources from Underfunded Public Schools, Progressive Pulse (Jan. 21, 2019), http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2019/01/21/over-funded-opportunity-scholarship-vouchers-continue-to-drain-resources-from-underfunded-public-schools/[https://perma.cc/HN6B-REAQ].

[35]The Facts About School Vouchers, Pub. Sch. First NC(July 31, 2018), https://www.publicschoolsfirstnc.org/resources/fact-sheets/the-facts-about-school-vouchers/[https://perma.cc/Y6BU-EF3M].

[36]Kris Nordstrom, N.C. State’s Hyped Voucher Study Tells Us Nothing About N.C.’s Voucher Program, Progressive Pulse (June 12, 2018), http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/06/12/n-c-states-hyped-voucher-study-tells-us-nothing-about-n-c-s-voucher-program/[https://perma.cc/W7T7-K6ZM].

[37]Mark Dynarski & Austin Nichols, More Findings About School Vouchers and Test Scores, and They Are Still Negative, 2 Eco. Stud. Brookings 1 (July 13, 2017), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ccf_20170713_mdynarski_evidence_speaks1.pdf[https://perma.cc/UY95-UWW4].

[38]Wendy Lecker, Leandro Court Process Underway to Remedy North Carolina’s Inadequate School Funding, Educ. L. Ctr. (Oct. 1, 2018), https://edlawcenter.org/news/archives/other-states/leandro-court-process-underway-to-remedy-north-carolinas-inadequate-school-funding.html[https://perma.cc/9JWT-BLFA].

[39]Will Doran, As Gerrymandering Fight Continues, Ruling Expected Soon on Wake County Political Maps, News & Observer (Sep. 28, 2018), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article219186405.html.

[40]North Carolina House of Representatives Elections 2016, Ballotpedia,https://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_House_of_Representatives_elections,_2016[https://perma.cc/FG94-MUMA].


[42]Paul Specht, Cooper Says Dems Won Nearly Half of 2016 Vote, but Hold Only 35% of NCGA Seats, Politifact N.C.(Aug. 9, 2017), https://www.politifact.com/north-carolina/statements/2017/aug/09/roy-cooper/cooper-says-dems-won-nearly-half-2016-vote-hold-on/[https://perma.cc/RP7K-Z3NE].

[43]Paul Specht & Will Doran, For the First Time in Modern NC History, Lawmakers Won't Allow Changes to Budget, News & Observer (May 22, 2018), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article211666184.html.

[44]T. Keung Hui, NC Teachers Warned, We Vote in November.’ and They Did, Helping Break GOP Supermajority,News & Observer (Nov. 9, 2018), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article221371205.html#storylink=cpy.

[45]Governor Cooper Vetoes GOP Budget that Fails on Public Education, Health Care and the Economy, NC Governor Roy Cooper (June 28, 2019), https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-vetoes-gop-budget-fails-public-education-health-care-and-economy[https://perma.cc/84TU-945R].

[46]Laura Leslie, 'How Dare you do this, Mr. Speaker': In Surprise Move, House Overrides Budget Veto,WRAL (Sep. 11, 2019), https://www.wral.com/how-dare-you-do-this-mr-speaker-in-surprise-move-house-overrides-budget-veto/18626626/.

[47]Common Cause v. Lewis, 358 F. Supp. 3d 505 (E.D.N.C. 2019).

[48]N.C. Gen. Stat.ch. 95, art. 12, § 95-98.1 (2015), https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_95/Article_12.html[https://perma.cc/FJF5-STV3].

[49]Matthew Burns, NCAE Wins Challenge to Payroll Dues Ban, WRAL (Jan. 3, 2013), https://www.wral.com/ncae-wins-challenge-to-payroll-dues-ban/11938870/[https://perma.cc/KU4F-J5GF].

[50]Ann Doss Helms, New NC Education Chief Talks About Testing, Teachers, School Choice and Betsy DeVos, Charlotte Observer (Jan. 27, 2017), https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article128951579.html.

[51]Kelly Hinchcliffe, Emails, Texts Reveal NC Superintendent's Internal Discussions About Teacher Rally, WRAL (June 14, 2018), https://www.wral.com/emails-texts-reveal-nc-superintendent-s-internal-discussions-about-teacher-rally/17606382/[https://perma.cc/37K9-EDZ6].

[52]T. Keung Hui, School-Choice Supporters Celebrate Gains in NC, but Press for More, News & Observer (Jan. 23, 2018), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article196211384.html.

[53]Comparison of State Legislative Salaries,Ballotpedia,https://ballotpedia.org/Comparison_of_state_legislative_salaries[https://perma.cc/VSB9-H98H].

[54]Teachers’ attempts to influence this bill are well-documented more extensively in this article.  See, e.g., Angela Scioli, How Bad Education Policy Happens, Red4EdNC (July 2, 2019), https://www.red4ednc.com/blog/how-bad-education-policy-happens[https://perma.cc/N5CA-HQ8P].

[55]S.B. 134, 2019-2020 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (N.C. 2019).

[56]N.C. Dep’t of Pub. Instruction, North Carolina Essential Standards:  Social Studies-American History: The Founding Principles, Civic, and Economics Course,http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/curriculum/socialstudies/scos/civics.pdf[https://perma.cc/DC36-HTWK].

[57]Rob Christensen, UNC Losing Ground in Budget and Reputation. Whose Fault is That?, News & Observer(July 21, 2017), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/rob-christensen/article162945273.html.

[58]QuickFacts North Carolina, U.S. Census Bureau,  https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/NC/IPE120217[https://perma.cc/SB9P-35WV]; Colin Campbell, Politicians Spar Over New NC Sales Tax on Services, News & Observer (March 1, 2016), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article63420157.html.

[59]Status of State Medicaid Expansion Decisions: Interactive Map, Kaiser Family Found.(Aug. 1, 2019), https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/status-of-state-medicaid-expansion-decisions-interactive-map/[https://perma.cc/38BV-Y877].

[60]Angela Scioli, How Bad Education Policy Happens,Red4EdNC (July 2, 2019), https://www.red4ednc.com/blog/how-bad-education-policy-happens[https://perma.cc/VC2Z-E8CS].

[61]Joel Brown, NC Teachers Lay Out Demands for Rally, Top Republican Pushes Back, 11abc(April 24, 2019), https://abc11.com/education/nc-teachers-lay-out-demands-for-rally-top-republican-pushes-back/5269531/ [https://perma.cc/7Y8R-2PBK]; Kim Mackey & Educated Policy, Facebook(Apr. 17, 2019, 11:07 AM), https://www.facebook.com/educatedpolicy/photos/a.1155923964587241/1159519074227730/?type=3&theater[https://perma.cc/MSJ4-VL4N].

[62]T. Keung Hui, et al., For the Second Year,Teachers March Through Raleigh Demanding More Education Funding, News & Observer (May 1, 2019), https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article229849024.html.

[63]K-12 Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction,N.C. Dep’t of Pub. Instructionhttp://www.dpi.state.nc.us/curriculum/[https://perma.cc/2MPB-4FZU].

[64]Teacher NCFE Report Sample, https://www.dropbox.com/s/x76rmj6djcik5ai/Teacher%20NCFE%20report%20sample.jpg?dl=0[https://perma.cc/748Y-6WBB].

[65]Dan Forest (@LTGovDanForest), Twitter(June 18, 2019, 10:27 AM), https://twitter.com/LtGovDanForest/status/1140989342619439104?fbclid=IwAR2ypU5IspK29xMekJ_67kEUaKaYdPDtCqGHXK08Kt-TxTIvZOgVD55IaPI [https://perma.cc/HR5E-LVQL].

[66]N.C. State Bd. of Educ. v. State, 814 S.E.2d 54, 56 (N.C. 2018).

[67]Stuart Egan, The State Superintendent Meets With Privatizers on Monday, Then 40 People Were Laid Off at DPI on Friday,Caffeinatedrage (June 29, 2018), https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/06/29/the-state-superintendent-meets-with-privatizers-on-monday-then-40-people-were-laid-off-at-dpi-on-friday/ [https://perma.cc/L9XP-BSKF].

[68]Judicial Selection: An Interactive Map, Brennan Ctr. for Justice,http://judicialselectionmap.brennancenter.org/?court=Supreme[https://perma.cc/VPQ2-ZR6M].

[69]H.B. 100, 2017-2018 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (N.C. 2017), 2017 N.C. Sess. Law 2017-3.

[70]Editorial Board, Judiciary Could be the Next Target for GOP Redistricting, News & Observer (June 30, 2017), https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article159014654.html.

[71]18 U.S. 422 (2019).



About the Author

Angela Scioli, 9-12 Social Studies Teacher, NBCT, BA, MAT UNC-Chapel Hill; Kimberly Mackey, 9-12 Social Studies Teacher, NBCT, BA, MSSE SUNY-Albany; Justin Parmenter, Grade 7 English Language Arts Teacher, NBCT, BA UM-St. Louis, MEd Northern Arizona. The authors are public education advocates and teacher leaders in North Carolina. In addition to their own digital platforms (Parmenter’s “Notes From the Chalkboard” and Mackey’s “Educated Policy”) they work together as the founder and Board of Advisors of Red4EdNC.