Monday, January 9, 2012

N.C. education is broken, not broke, legislator says

The N.C. Democratic Party on Friday sent out a press release hammering state Rep. Tim Moffitt, a Republican from Asheville, for saying this in an early childhood education committee meeting:

“I am very suspect of early childhood education,” Moffitt said. “I am very suspect of education in general.”

We asked Moffitt what he meant by that (and included his original quote in an editorial in Saturday's paper). Here's his response. What do you think?

January 7, 2012

Taylor Batten
Editorial Page Editor
Charlotte Observer
600 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202


Thank you for your call. I am aware of my comments, however, I was not aware of the fact that the progressive Democrats are trying to make political hay of them. I appreciate your request for my side of the story.

First and foremost, I am a tough audience and question everything. The legislature’s primary responsibility is to protect the integrity of the relationship between the taxpayers and the government that serves them. As a parent, private citizen, employer and citizen legislator, I am frustrated with what I hear versus what I see and my concerns are not limited to education, but since that is the topic of your article, here is my point of view.

As a new legislator, what I hear constantly is how great our education system is and something just doesn’t feel quite right about it. What I see are kids who have graduated from our high schools having to take remedial classes in our community college system just to qualify for our University system or worse they are so disheartened by their experience in public school they are not even interested in furthering themselves. At that point they move into the workforce or become dependent on the state or generosity of others for their existence (which is not good for them or for society in general).

Small businesses who are the largest employers as a group state wide are faced with hiring needs and are very interested in hiring our young people as we were all young at one point and can remember vividly our first jobs because someone took a chance on us and thus our professional lives began. However, today’s group of publicly educated kids is more expensive to hire compared to my generation of publicly educated kids. Basic critical thinking skills and math skills are absent and their communication skills both verbal and written are sadly inadequate. Although there are wonderful success stories that can be pointed to in every generation of publicly educated kids, it is not sufficient and certainly not okay for us to ignore the realities or have them overshadowed by said successes. Success stories by and large are the things that give us hope and encouragement yet it is not representative of the vast majority.

As I wade into the debate on education I have lots of questions and they are not only appropriate they are years behind in the asking. When our education budget represents 55-60% of our entire States budget, there must be accountability and results. To suggest that more money would solve the problem simply ignores the truth and history. Our education system is not broke, it is broken and our kids are paying the price. That is not good public policy and it is irresponsible to sweep these realities under the rug and not seek a solution.

For the progressive Democrats to make this a political issue and attempt to embarrass me or mock me for my questions is sad but understandable as they are the chief architects of everything in our State including public education and they must defend what they have created. I would ask that they set politics aside and join me in finding meaningful solutions for our kids, our teachers and society as a whole. Until that time, I will continue with my public responsibility and ask the uncomfortable questions and my private responsibility of taking chances on our youth of today and help to give them a start to their professional lives. Someone has to….


Timothy D. Moffitt, Member, NC House of Representatives, District 116


Reggie Mantle said...

What do I think?

I think Mr. Moffitt raises some very important questions.

If more than half of our treasure is being spent on education and we are not getting adequate results then reform is needed. The larger question is why reforms are resisted consistently.

No Child Left Behind for all its flaws was a bold step but the Big Ed entrenched bureaucracy seems to have fought it at every step. Observer Op Eds chimed in as well.

I would be interested in a Batten/Flono reactionary Left response to Mr. Moffitt's points.

Other than

-raising taxes
-blocking reforms
-blocking student testing
-blocking charter schools
-blocking student vouchers

where is the Left's vision for the future of education?

Wiley Coyote said...

Mr. Moffitt...

The very first place you need to start is with the NSLP (National School Lunch Program, as it is rife with fraud and wasting billions every year.

In 2009/2010, the USDA overpaid benefits to the tune of $1.5 BILLION dollars ans they project overpaying in 2010/2011 $1.6 BILLION.

Since Title I funds and other resources are predicated on the FRL or ED number, whatever PC acronym you want to use, incorrect numbers of who actually qualifies for these benefits is critical.

The problem is, the USDA will NOT allow LEA's to audit more than a 3% sample. Even CMS' sample audits show 60% potentially do not qualify. This isn't just in CMS, it's widespread across the country.

CMS has 140,000 students and almost 79,000 are on the NSLP. That's about 56%. No poverty numbers in the US can make that 56% work. Not the Census or any other Federal poverty calculators.

President Obama claimed he was going to pay for his health care program by eliminating waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.

We should be doing the same thin in the NSLP with the USDA.

By eliminating people - and yes school districts - who game the system, many tens of millions per year can go to other programs that would benefit ALL children.