Publisher's note: This post, by Ray Nothstine, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
Wherever you are in the North Carolina k-12 education debate, it's unfortunate that things have become so politicized. I've written about how Gov. Roy Cooper is amping up the rhetoric while gambling
that blocking any teacher raises will play to his political advantage. He can continue to point the finger, yet the only problem he is essentially solving is a political one, consolidating more power and taxpayer funds while propping up a system that leaves too many behind.
There has to be a better way to revolutionize education than pitting people against each other for political power. Obviously, it's the students who suffer. It's the students who remained trapped by a lack of opportunity and choice.
Civitas President Donald Bryson highlights an example of how politics is punishing families and students here in North Carolina. It's another low from some of those who believe that the spending increases are never enough.
It's getting nasty. A lot of power and control is at stake and too much of it is about partisan politics.
Now, there is a clear desire by some to see parents suffer until all the political demands on spending are met for a status quo with a higher price tag. Nevermind that North Carolina is spending more than ever on education or that the average annual spending increase from 2011 to 2018 is 3.3 percent. Nevermind that educational outcomes are stagnant with massive increases in spending
More taxpayer spending is really a poor barometer for improving schools because there are so many variables at play. Sure, money can help in some ways, but too often it doesn't even make it into the classroom
. Family stability and culture are more essential to education than merely more money, and when that erodes there is little to no evidence that additional spending benefits the child. That's merely one example.
One obvious way to increase parental involvement and educational innovation is school choice. It offers greater ownership to the parents and guardians so they can make the best decisions for their child or children. It empowers the parent and removes the politicians from calling all the shots with our tax dollars.
How many times in your life have you thought that the government is equipped to make the best choice for you and your family? Why do we treat k-12 education in a way that the government, in just this instance, has a unique advantage and a monopoly on educational instruction and knowledge?
The point of education is not about expanding the state or a bureaucratic educational system, but truly offering opportunities for human development and flourishing. Different kids have different needs and families all value different elements of moral formation and instruction.
It's ironic that given all the political rhetoric about equity and fairness today that we still have a system that traps too many kids in failing schools. Politics should never trap kids in failing schools and the vast majority of North Carolinians agree
Too many politicians, particularly in North Carolina, are making decisions on education for reasons of consolidating their power or appeasing politicized constituencies. Parents, who know their children best, are equipped to make decisions on the style of education and schools that best fits their family, outside the realm of endless partisan political spats.
It's long past time to radically expand the school choice gains in North Carolina and let politicians fight over other things that are less important to a child.
Frederick Douglass said that "education means emancipation." It should not only mean emancipation from our broken schools but freeing our children from broken politics as well.