Raleigh – A dangerous provision snuck into the budget, coupled with a bill rushing through the General Assembly, threatens to bring back segregation to our public schools and shift the burden to pay for our public schools from the state to already stretched-thin municipalities and towns.
HB 514, a pet project from Rep. Brawley, paves the way for rich, mostly white suburbs in Mecklenburg County to create and run their own charter schools. When questions around the funding arose, Republicans inserted a provision in the budget to allow those schools to ask municipal governments to “pony up” for funding, even though the provision received “very little vetting.”
Worse still, the provision was so broadly written that it could affect the entire state, upending decades of state support for public education and forcing already-strapped municipalities to pick up the tab:
Charlotte Observer Editorial Board: “This is the story of how North Carolina’s legislators took a bad bill that affected only one county and turned it into a fundamental and damaging policy change that will affect the whole state.”
Make no mistake, this is about race and class. Numerous commentators, civil rights advocates, clergy, and school board members have laid that out repeatedly:
Charlotte Observer Editorial Board: “The change is likely to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and to widen the urban/rural gap … It is also sure to widen gaps within school systems along lines of class and race.”
Julius L. Chambers Center for Civil Rights: “[E]ven more troubling however, is the fact that the bill will allow these towns to create racially segregated, white enclave schools for their residents, subsidized by all taxpayers.”
WSOC: “African American clergy and former school board members … worry [HB 514] would take NC back to the Jim Crow era where suburban schools were racially segregated.”
North Carolina NAACP: HB 514 is a “sneaky and underhanded” attempt to create “Jim Crow independent school districts.”
African-American School Board Member: “Any of us who know and listen to this conversation, we know that the very root of this is about race.”
2018 NC Teacher of the Year: House Bill 514 “is a design for racial and economic segregation.”
Beyond the morally reprehensible implications to resegregate our schools, the bill and budget provision shift the burden to pay for public education onto already over-burdened municipalities and towns.
As the Charlotte Observer editorial board stated, “This change is the camel’s nose in the tent, the likely beginning of the state reducing its commitment to schools and putting the burden on cities and counties.” That means higher property taxes, local taxes, and fees.
Local towns are already struggling enough after Republicans corporate tax cuts shifted tax burdens from the state onto municipalities, the middle class, and the poor. We shouldn’t burden them again, especially to resegregate our schools.
“Republicans attempt to resegregate our schools and further divide our state is morally reprehensible and is just the latest in Republicans’ decades long assault on public education,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said.“Democrats stand with our public schools to protect every North Carolina child’s ability to get a quality public education, no matter their zip code.”