Public education is a critical issue for Christians, and the midterm elections provide a significant opportunity to vote with public education on our hearts – and in our minds.
The NC Council of Churches has long advocated on behalf of high-quality public education in this state, and we invite you to spend some time with our revised statement on public education, published in December 2017. It offers a thoughtful examination of many of the reasons that Christians ought to consider public education a critical issue.
But the simple, and rightfully terrifying, reality is that the profound lack of funding under which our public schools are operating put all of our children, and therefore the future of all that we hold dear, at risk.
Every single bit of evidence demonstrates that under-resourced children struggle in under-resourced schools and that adequately resourced students thrive in situations in which their under-resourced peers struggle. It’s all about funding.
The data about the extent to which public education in NC is underfunded is staggering (and the Council is grateful for data from the NC Justice Center’s Education and Law Project, the charts which follow are used with their permission). Consider these examples
- In 2018, NC budgeted less than half of what would have been required to meet industry standards for the per-student provision of nurses, librarians, counselors, psychologists, and social workers: to meet these standards, the budget would have required more than $600,000,000. 600 MILLION dollars are needed just to approach industry standards.
- Funding per student per year, when adjusted for buying power and inflation, remains far below funding levels from a decade ago.
- Teacher pay remains pitifully low when compared with other states, and when compared with jobs which require comparable college degrees. Some estimates demonstrate that our teacher pay is 37th in the nation. Perhaps even more problematic is that benefits such as longevity pay, increased pay for credentials such as a Masters Degree, and retirement benefits have been eliminated, or will be eliminated by 2020.
There is more to be said about the many reasons that Christians can best serve their own children and the children of the community by choosing, advocating for, being present in public schools. That is a conversation in which the NC Council of Churches is heavily invested. But today, no matter where your children go to school, no matter where you went to school, make public education a critical issue as your vote.
NC Faith Leaders for Public Education has partnered with several other education advocacy groups to create a non-partisan Public Education Voter Facebook Page and Twitter Handle which you can find @NCEdVoter. Please visit today and share what you find there!
You are also invited to sign on to North Carolina Faith Leaders for Public Education by visiting ncchurches.org/ncflpe. Join us!
We advocate knowing that fully funded schools are both critical and attainable. We vote knowing that we cannot be satisfied until our students have access to the safe, healthy, well stocked, fully staffed and fully funded, schools that they need to thrive. We persist, following the call of Jesus who feeds, heals, and blesses. So may it be.