Education candlelight vigil planned
N.C. Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt will be the featured speaker at the “Stand Up For Education” rally and candlelight vigil to be held on the Haywood County courthouse lawn from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26.
A member of the Senate Education Committee, Nesbitt has been outspoken about his dissatisfaction with the state budget passed in July.
“A half billion dollars was cut out of education in this budget in order to make up for the tax giveaway that you (Republicans) did for the wealthy and the out-of-state corporations,” he said in an interview following the vote.
Other speakers are N.C. Rep Joe Sam Queen, Haywood County Commissioner Bill Upton, who is also a retired school superintendent and Boyce Deitz, a retired high school football coach and past president of the N.C. Athletic Directors Association.
Representatives from the North Carolina Education Association and Public Schools First in North Carolina have also been asked to speak.
Rally participants are asked to wear red to demonstrate solidarity with public school teachers and also bring school supplies to be distributed to local schools by the Haywood County Democratic Party.
Anyone interested in marching to the courthouse lawn should assemble at Democratic Headquarters in Haywood Square by 5:15 p.m. Collection containers for school supplies will be at both locations.
Public Schools First has recently joined forces with Progress NC to present “Get the Facts Straight For Public Schools," a statewide initiative designed to present information at public events to counter what spokesperson Bob Etheridge refers to as “misleading talking points designed to fool the public” being put forth by Governor Pat McCrory and GOP leaders. Detailed information on funding cuts is presented on the website: publicschoolsfirstnc.org
While McCrory contends the budget he just signed will mean the largest spending in K-12 education in state history, critics say although spending in raw dollars was increased, it has not kept up with inflation and it has fallen behind the state’s needs as the population grows.
Calculations released by the NC Justice Center indicate that the state will spend $534 million less in the next fiscal year than in 2008 when inflation and population growth are taken into account.
NC Policy Watch is keeping a running tally of education funding cuts that local schools are coping with as they open up for the upcoming academic year. Posted on ncpolicywatch.com, the list includes links to local media articles that detail cuts for specific school districts.
“Read these stories and find out what is really happening in these schools, not just what politicians want you to believe. Most of the stories aren’t about politics at all. They simply reveal the struggles that local school officials and teachers are facing thanks to our GOP legislators and Governor McCrory,” says Waynesville resident Mary Lou Daily, a retired regional instructional technology consultant for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Daily also encourages anyone who is concerned about the future of North Carolina’s public education system to join her at the rally on Aug. 26, regardless of their political affiliation.
“In the past, both political parties have worked together to promote education and that’s what we need to strive for again,” she said.