Throughout the history of this country, popular movements have always been fueled by anger at a government that is trying to restrict our rights and strip our pockets. The Republican education agenda does exactly those two things: it restricts North Carolinians' rights to a sound basic education and cut into the pocketbooks of almost everyone who interacts with our educational system.
To me, that's just not ok.
It is hard to summarize the breadth and depth of the changes Republicans have proposed. Their legislation and budget proposals impact every aspect of public education services from early childhood through university study. Suffice it to say, there is almost no proposal that enhances current education services. Pretty much everything is a cut, reduction, or a shift from public provision of education to the private sector.
The Republican agenda strips our population from the right to high quality early childhood education. They cut into our right for children to have manageable class sizes in classrooms from kindergarten through high school. They strip the rights of community college students to access federal financial aid.
While the Republican leadership proposes all of these cuts as budget savings, it's actually hard to see how most North Carolinians will come out ahead.
They'll lay off 15,000 educators. Everyone who works for the public education system will continue to work for no raise, will lose earnings to higher health care premiums, and will no longer be eligible for performance bonuses associated with the state's testing and accountability system.
Thousands will lose access to Smart Start and More at Four. They'll have to pay for early childhood care with no assurance of a real, quality educational component. On the other end of the system, the cost of community college and university studies continue to rise at the rate of more than 5% a year.
This Republican agenda will spare no one.
It's time for a new movement. It's time to make it clear that the people of North Carolina want a strong, responsive government that fulfills its responsibility to educate our children.