The North Carolina Council of Churches has unveiled our latest billboard. This time we set our sights on Public Education. The billboard is located on I-40 East at Mile Marker 354 near Faison. Beach Bound vacationers should have no trouble spotting the bright red banner with the imperative: Fully Fund Public Education.
Previous billboards erected by the Council called attention to immigration reform and gun violence. With this latest message, the Council is once again taking the biblical imperative to the public square, providing salient words from the prophet Hosea who announced God’s displeasure when the ruling powers of that day denied people access to knowledge. According to Hosea and the Council, God decries: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”
We believe there is a self-fulling prophecy at work in North Carolina related to public education. Some of our elected officials claim the schools are failing our children and so they pass laws diverting money toward other educational models, unproven and unregulated. Then with less money our schools struggle to do well, thus fulfilling the claim that our schools are failing. In truth, our schools are not failing even with the diminished resources available to them, but they will continue to struggle and our state will continue to lose quality teachers if nothing changes.
To help spur on the change, the Council is launching a new initiative, Faith Leaders for Public Education. With five trainings already scheduled for the summer, we believe the Council can help harness the good work already being done by faith communities for their neighborhood schools and can use it to build momentum in support of public education.
Historically, this state has been a beacon of education initiatives benefiting all children, not failing them. The Council and its allies believe that if public schools had the necessary funding they could fulfill their promises for North Carolina school children. A few things would help get us back on track:
- Restore teacher salaries and financial incentives to pre-2008 levels adjusted for inflation.
- Create revenue streams to repair and upgrade our school buildings.
- Eliminate the transfer of tax dollars from public schools to voucher-supported schools.
There is more, but this is a great place to start and something our elected officials and their challengers could promise us before the fall election. The truth is, we need legislators who will deliver for all North Carolina school children, over 80% of whom attend public schools.
Look for that billboard on your way to the beach. And when you get home, call your candidates for state house and senate and extract a promise to support North Carolina Public Education.