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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Communities for the Education of Every Child NC and the new narrative for public education


Editor’s note: We invited our partner Every Child NC to share more about their work and mission on our blog today.

By Sarah Montgomery, Policy Advocate, NC Justice Center, Education and Law Project and founding partner, Every Child NC

Schools will never have enough money…not all parents are involved in their child’s education…teachers are more concerned about their paycheck than they are about our kids…our communities are segregated so it would be impossible to fully integrate our schools…

These are just a few of the damaging narratives that have been created by critics of public education. The problem always seems too complex and the solutions too abstract for most of us to engage with. So we wait… generation after generation, we draw some hope from the occasional victory, look towards the incremental improvements and we find a way to do more with less. We resign ourselves to the seemingly inevitable stance that it’s simply too hard a problem to solve.

In the year 2020, 25 years after our state’s landmark school funding court decision Leandro v. State, North Carolina has fallen further behind in meeting our constitutional requirement to provide a sound basic education to every child.  Even in our state’s well-resourced districts, historic inequities fester and intensify. In our poor and rural school communities, the same opportunity gaps that prompted the original lawsuit remain unchanged for low-income, Black, Brown and Indigenous youth, for students with disabilities and learning differences, for English learners and our youngest learners (0-3 and PreK students).

“[North Carolina] is further away from meeting its constitutional obligation to provide every child with the opportunity for a sound basic education [today] than it was when the Supreme Court of North Carolina issued the Leandro decision more than 20 years ago.” – “Sound Basic Education for All: An Action Plan for North Carolina,” WestEd

Is this the only story worth telling? Whose experiences are being left out or disregarded all together as our state lawmakers embark on yet another attempt at developing a state budget next year; one that must begin to repair decades of underfunding and harmful policies? What will it take to finally commit to making progress towards meeting our state’s most fundamental obligation: the education of every child.

Telling the story of every child

In mid- June, along with numerous ally organizations and community leaders, amid uprisings for racial justice, and while in the throes of Pandemic, Every Child NC shared publicly the culmination of almost 10 months of organizing and partnership building. Communities for the Education of Every Child NC is a new coalition tackling a decades long problem in our state: inequitable and inadequate public-school funding. Learn more about the work through some of the leaders who spoke at the public launch event and demonstrate your support of our mission by Taking Our Pledge (on behalf of yourself or your organization).

We support our community-based partners advocate for equitable funding and policy change in public education by focusing on connecting local issues relating to educational inequities to state level policy and funding choices. While our challenges and issues may be locally specific, the remedies needed are ultimately in the hands of the NC General Assembly and we need more people involved in holding them accountable.

Communities for the Education of Every Child NC is a community-led, statewide coalition of organizations, parents, teachers, and students who advocate for every child’s constitutional right to a sound basic education. Our work focuses on promoting equity so that race, ethnicity, economic background, regional location, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation, immigration status, and language are not barriers to educational opportunity.

Our vision is that all students, particularly underserved and vulnerable student groups, receive the funding and supports they need to realize the education that was promised to them.


Every Child NC is only possible because of the valuable contributions of our partners who are themselves parents, educators and school staff, non-profit leaders, faith leaders and students who believe in the transformative power of well resourced, inclusive, culturally affirming public schools.  There’s work to do but also understand that if our experiences and expertise are not informing policy solutions, the change needed will continue to elude us.

In the upcoming months, we will center community voices and experiences and help contribute to the new narrative for North Carolina public education.  Parents aren’t failing their kids; teachers aren’t failing their students. For far too long, North Carolina has been funding our students to fail. To delay implementing the Leandro requirement to provide a sound basic education to every child is not only unconstitutional, it’s unconscionable. We will tell our stories of what’s working and what’s needed in public education, utilizing the Leandro policy framework as guidance and inspiration. We can’t allow another generation of students to be deprived of the full range of academic opportunities owed to them.

Share your story with us: https://bit.ly/everychildNC_stories

 

Want to learn more about Every Child NC? Visit their website at everychildnc.org.

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