Raleigh – Republicans are transparently using the budget process to try to save one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in the state, Jeff Tarte, by shoveling money for classroom supplies to schools in his district – and his district only. This “SweetTarte Deal” pits schools against each other and is so overly partisan and unequal that the nonprofit selected to dole out the money doesn’t want anything to do with it.
The $200,000 allocated is specifically for “classroom supplies” and is funneled through the nonprofit DonorsChoose to only the 35 schools in Senate District 41, including many affluent schools. Instead of freezing taxes for corporations and the wealthy to pay for supplies for public schools across the entire state, as Governor Cooper has suggested, Republicans are selectively doling out money to schools in a competitive district only.
The move is so political and unequal, DonorsChoose is refusing to accept the money. “We cannot accept the funding outlined in the budget provision unless it’s changed to equitably support teachers and students throughout North Carolina,” the group stated, adding that the budget provision is “against the spirit of our mission to fight education inequality and to serve where the need is greatest.”
Others noted the political nature as soon as the provision was noticed. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Government Relations Coordinator and former GOP state legislator Charles Jeter told the News & Observer, “I assume that’s the re-elect Jeff Tarte provision of the budget.”
Adding to the confusion, 14 of the selected schools do not have any requests for supplies through DonorsChoose, and the full funding is five times more than what the schools have requested through the nonprofit.
Tens of thousands of teachers marched in the streets earlier this month to protest Republicans cuts to the classroom, including the General Assembly’s inadequate funding for classroom supplies. Governor Cooper’s budget provides $15 million to fund a $150 school supply stipend for all classroom teachers to help offset their out-of-pocket expenses; the General Assembly’s budget does not.
Seems like the only way to get money for classroom supplies out of the Republican General Assembly is to have a competitive election.
“Republicans are terrified of this year’s election and are so desperate to protect their tax cuts for corporations that they’re now giving out SweetTarte deals to save vulnerable members, even if it comes at the expense of public schools statewide,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “Now we know that all it takes for Republicans to give schools new school supplies is to have a competitive election nearby.”