Tuesday, December 07, 2021
GUEST OP-ED: Sound Basic Education For Every Child

GUEST OP-ED: Sound Basic Education For Every Child

– Editorial Opinion Submitted By Representative Raymond E. Smith. Jr. –

Sound Basic Education for Every Child

North Carolina used to be a leader in public education, particularly in the Southeast.  Unfortunately, we are no longer leaders but seem content to be mediocre in most areas and downright poor in others. We are not doing enough to serve our students and to provide them with a sound, basic education that our state constitution requires.

The good news is the resources needed are available to us, and we have a roadmap of where to make these long overdue investments in the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The Leandro Plan is the product of a decades-long court case that originated because some families believed the state was underfunding education. Article 1, Section 15 of the NC Constitution states, “The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the state to guard and maintain that right.” As lawmakers, it is our duty to step up and make this right meaningful for students in all schools in North Carolina.

We should invest in pre-K and make high-quality education available to children before they enter kindergarten. The youngest kids in our state need to be invested in sooner and more fully. That means better training and pay for early childhood staff and educators. Pre-K should be available to every four-year-old in our state. North Carolina has a history of smart, early investments like this with programs such as Smart Start. We can do it again.

There cannot be a robust, world-class public school system in North Carolina without well-funded educators and staff. That means teachers who are paid well for the difficult jobs they do — particularly difficult over the past two years. They deserve raises at the very least. And school support staff like cafeteria workers and bus drivers should be brought up to $15 an hour in districts where their rates are lower. We cannot expect to attract new employees or to retain the best when they feel underpaid and unappreciated.

There must also be investments made in improving the infrastructure of our schools. There needs to be a concerted effort to build better schools across North Carolina, but particularly in zip codes that have been far too often left behind. The median income of an area should not determine the quality of the education provided to the children who call it home. Children across the state deserve to go to school in a building where they can feel comfortable learning. The temperature outside should not affect the quality of education inside the classroom, but too many of our schools have fallen behind and require investment today.

By implementing the roadmap provided to us in the Leandro Plan, we can get North Carolina schools back on track. While budget negotiations come to a close, fully funding the Leandro Plan needs to be top of mind. The future of education in North Carolina can be bright, but it will not happen without a deliberate investment in children, schools and educators across this state.

‘This is why I am a primary sponsor of HB 946 – Sound Basic Education for Every Child, some of which is being considered in the proposed state budget.’

https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/hb%20946

Sincerely,
Dr. Raymond E. Smith Jr., Ed.D.
Representative Raymond E. Smith Jr.
North Carolina House of Representatives
District 21

The opinions expressed in this editorial are not necessarily the views of Goldsboro Daily News or Curtis Media Group-Goldsboro.

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