The North Carolina Association of Educators got their man. Yesterday the state’s largest teacher’s association – or union since members of NCAE are automatically members of the National Education Association (NEA) – endorsed Roy Cooper as the Democratic candidate for Governor in 2016.
What’s unusual about this is that individuals have until December 21st to declare themselves a candidate for Governor. That evidently didn’t matter to NCAE. They like what they see in Roy Cooper and that's that. You'd wish that NCAE was as quick and forthcoming with membership numbers, but that's another story.
So why is NCAE so capitaved with Cooper? You won’t find much about education on Cooper's web site. Campaign speeches offer little but the usual rhetoric. At the 7th Annual Defending Democracy banquet, sponsored by the Randolph County Democratic Party. Cooper offered the usual lines saying that public education has been ignored for several years and that similar cuts have been made at the state’s community colleges and universities.
We have a state government that continues to make cuts, instead of investing in education,” he said. “When I talk to CEOs and what they want to see (in order to relocate their companies to North Carolina), they want a well-trained workforce. People see that where we are heading (with education) will not get us there.
That seems to be the Democrats major theme on education and other issues: Republicans are taking us backward. We’re not moving forward. That’s the drumbeat of progressives like Roy Cooper. . Democrats have excelled at painting a picture that prior to the recent Republican victories, North Carolina was nirvana, heaven on earth. Then, the Republicans spoiled the party. To keep moving forward, Democrats need to reclaim what Republicans took from them. . To move forward, Democrats are saying we must go backward and remember the previous decade.
So let's ask, were things really better? Let's look at public education.
Ten years a go we had a massive dropout problem that only started to improve at the end of the decade. In 2009-10 Democrats – not Republicans — slashed $789 million from the K-12 education budget and $1.1 billion in the general education budget to help deal with the recession. Democrats oversaw siignificant cuts to public education. EOG and EOC test results showed too many kids underperforming and a persistent achievement gap. Years ago, if you wanted an alternative to the traditional public schools, good luck. The state’s aversion to expanding charter schools produced a waiting list of 40,000 by 2010. Too many law makers were comfortable with allowing ping pong balls to determine the fate of thousands of children.
Are these the good old days?
Cooper says we need to restore public funding for our schools colleges and universities. The cuts need to stop. Yet if you look at actual funding levels, a different story emerges. Two charts illustrate this point. .
The chart below shows that over the past eight years, Historical funding levels for ADM actually declined from 2008-09 until 2011-12. Flattened in the middle years and then rose significantly from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Just a reminder Democrats were in charge of the Legislature in the early part of this period and Republicans controlled the chamber in the later years.
Source: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
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The second chart, traces state general fund appropriations for public schools from 2001-2016. Note appropriations grew steadily until 2008-09, declined for two years and then have increased for the last five years. The first budget authored by Republicans was 2011-12. Education appropriations have actually increased every year since then.
Data Source: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and North Carolina General Assembly
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You'd like to think that facts matter, but I guess not. NCAE got their man.