Wednesday, August 22, 2012

N.J. school funding case has lessons for N.C.

By now, you've read about a N.C. Appeals Court ruling affirming state lawmakers violated the state Constitution when they slashed funding for the state's preschool program and reduced poor children's access to it. You've also read no doubt that those same lawmakers plan to appeal this ruling to the N.C. Supreme Court.

It's a waste of time and money. Just a look at a similar New Jersey case that I wrote about last year around this time. In that school funding case, state lawmakers - pushed by their governor, Republican favorite Chris Christie - slashed money from the public schools in the New Jersey budget. But like North Carolina their state constitution contained a specific mandate to provide for its students.

In New Jersey's case, it is described as a "thorough and efficient" education system. A New Jersey superior court judge - someone akin to North Carolina's superior court judge Howard Manning - declared in March of 2011 that the state had violated the state's constitutional mandate. Not satisfied, lawmakers appealed to the state's Supreme Court, who in May of last year affirmed the lower court judge's ruling, and went him one further and ordered the state to provide $500 million more to the state's public schools. The money was to go to districts whose school children were part of a school funding lawsuit 30 years ago.

Sound familiar? Tuesday's ruling in North Carolina was also the result of changes that violated court decisions in a school funding case. The 18-year-old Leandro case
established that the state had not fulfilled its mandate in the N.C. Constitution to provide a "sound, basic education" to poor students. To comply with those court rulings, N.C. lawmakers and the governor agreed to establish the state's prekindergarten program.

Judge Manning has been overseeing the state's compliance for several years and when the legislative changes were made last year, he ruled the state had violated the court orders and the state's constitution.

The state challenged the ruling and Manning's authority. The appeals court ruling Tuesday affirmed both Manning's decision and his authority. In the meantime, the state restored some preschool funding. But the budget cuts meant that this year 9,000 fewer students got into the prekindergarten program.

Shame on N.C. lawmakers for that. And shame on them for abdicating their responsibility and continuing to fight this fight. It's wasting time and money, and hurting N.C. children.

Posted by Fannie Flono


John said...

"The 18-year-old Leandro case
may of that same year t ta rschool fuwith the aid and insistence of in
established that the state had not fulfilled its mandate in the N.C. Constitution to provide a "sound, basic education" to poor students."

Well, I guess you proved the state failed to provide a "sound basic education" with that garbled sentence!

Larry Comrades said...

It's a Flono!

Wiley Coyote said...

Pre-K is NOT mandated for every child in this state.

A quick fix is to complete do away with pre-K.

Taxpayers should NOT be funding it.

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