School’s back in session and so are the asks for money to provide for school supplies. I’ve had children in the public schools for most of the past 20 years. Never have I seen the need for so many basics. In the past, the PTAs and PTOs focused on extras. They added to the playground. They raised money for field trips. They enriched the educational experience. Now, they are filling the gaps for things like paper and books left by the legislature.

A new website launched today highlights how the governor and GOP legislature are failing our schools. The site is called “How far we’ve fallen: The decline of North Carolina’s public schools.” It documents the cuts to public schools and highlights the impacts.

According the site, per pupil spending, when adjusted for inflation, is $815 below pre-recession spending. Money for text books and school supplies is down 79%. Teacher pay has dropped from 25th in the nation to 42nd. Teachers are leaving the profession because of the low pay and lousy treatment.

Republicans, for their part, argue that there’s too much fat in public schools and they’ve cut it out. They say that angered people across the political spectrum.

What Republicans really want to do is shift the financial responsibility for public schools from the state to local government. North Carolina made a decision during the Great Depression that it has an obligation to ensure a quality education for its children, regardless of whether they are from wealthy or poor areas. The GOP wants to reverse that social contract. They’re doing it by cutting funding and by passing the buck on school supplies and other necessities to families and local government. In essence, they’ve instituted an unofficial tax on school kids and families like mine have to pay it or send our kids to schools that lack the supplies necessary to teach and to learn. 

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