Local & State Voices

Republicans are working to help NC schools

Students at Victory Christian Center School, a beneficiary of N.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship program.
Students at Victory Christian Center School, a beneficiary of N.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship program. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Education must be a non-partisan issue, but it has been highjacked by special interest groups. Only facts and debate can bring us back into focus on what is at stake – our children and our society’s future.

As parents, we all agree that all of our children should have the opportunity to receive the best education possible. Republicans consistently advocate for strong public schools. So why is there a growing divide and a disconnect with voters between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of education? Why are so many parents frustrated that education has become such a partisan issue? And why aren’t more parents angered by the shortage of media coverage given to the accomplishments Republicans have achieved in North Carolina education in recent years?

Republicans focus on common sense reforms to give parents more choices, particularly low-income parents and those in underserved communities. Democrats focus on pushing their autocratic and nationalized education agenda that moves decisions about a child’s education further away from parents and local educators who know the needs of the student best. Republicans in North Carolina’s General Assembly are developing policies like school vouchers, school choice and innovative lab-type schools that will shift the power of decision-making back to parents instead of leaving it in the control of bureaucrats. These innovative solutions focus on the needs of the students to ensure that our children are prepared to enter higher education or the workforce of the future.

Did you know that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year increases public education funding again with an additional $700 million? Teachers will receive an average 6.5 percent raise for the upcoming school year on top of the 15 percent increase over the past four years. Principals will receive an average 6.9 percent pay increase, $35 million has been allocated to keep students safe in NC Public Schools, and $241 million in lottery funds are allocated to build or upgrade school facilities. Did you know that North Carolina is the first state in the nation to have every public school in the state connected to high speed internet?

Republicans support reforms such as funding for more charter schools and more school choice for parents. I am an advocate for a voucher program. North Carolina spent an average of $9,172 per K-12 student in 2017. How many parents are happy with the results from our public schools at a cost of $9,172 per child? What if you could get a voucher for $9,172 per child per year and choose the school your child would attend? What if that could be any type of school - public, charter, or private? You would have the freedom to choose private and pay the difference between the voucher and total annual tuition. It would be your choice. Even better, a voucher program would offer school choice to lower-income families stuck in poor performing schools, a far better option than they have now.

Republicans and Democrats care about our children and public education. It’s about time we end the demagoguery and talk about the real solutions that can help us continue to improve.

Miller is president of the Mecklenburg Evening Republican Women’s Club. dzmiller81@gmail.com