2012 Report on Project Work - Education and Law

The Education and Law Project works to protect and expand access to quality public education. Increasingly a solid education and top-notch skills are required to open the door to opportunity. We advocate at the General Assembly and with local school systems for education policies and funding that support those students most at risk for falling behind, dropping out, or being let down by the school system. We also work with families to make sure their students’ education rights are being respected and fulfilled.

Preserving Funding

North Carolina’s public school system must have adequate funding if it is to provide a quality education to every child, no matter his or her background or circumstances. In 2012, we worked to protect education funding, especially for the neediest students.

  • Ensured that the legislature maintained special funding for the education of low-wealth and disadvantaged students
  • Through legislative testimony and an aggressive communications strategy, stopped a bill that would have reduced funding for public schools by giving dollar-for-dollar tax credits to corporations that fund private school scholarships
  • Informed community groups, parents, and education advocates about problems with North Carolina’s system for school funding, which is unduly complex, opaque and inadequate

Protecting Access to Quality Education

North Carolina’s Constitution requires that the state provide all children with a sound, basic education. For children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are at risk of academic failure, such an education includes pre-kindergarten and personalized education interventions in K-12. It also means putting a stop to discipline policies that unfairly target minority students and rob them of their education. In 2012, we worked in the legislature, in the courts and in local communities to preserve these rights for North Carolina’s children.

  • Participated as amicus in the case that secured the right of all eligible at-risk four-year-olds to enroll in North Carolina’s prekindergarten program
  • Worked with lawmakers and testified at the legislature to strengthen the state law on Personal Education Plans for students at risk of academic failure
  • Successfully challenged Gaston County Public Schools’ coercive and discriminatory “gang contract” policy, resulting in the clearing of records of all 185 students subjected to this unlawful policy

Ensuring the Quality of Publicly Funded Education Services

Some state legislators are aggressively working to move as much taxpayer money into the hands of for-profit companies as possible. This effort includes the explosion of charter schools—because charter schools have fewer regulations and are not run by local school boards, it’s easy for for-profit management organizations to pocket the taxpayer money that is supposed to go to educating North Carolina’s children. We worked to make sure charter schools are held accountable for providing North Carolina students with a quality education.

  • Pointed out deficiencies in the approval process for charter schools, forcing the State Board of Education to revise its methods
  • Participated in litigation to keep a corporation with questionable practices from opening a "virtual" (online) charter school in North Carolina, and prompted the adoption of rules for approval of such online education enterprises
  • Presented before community groups to discuss the privatization of public education, how it could hurt students, and what they can do to stop it

The Big Challenge for 2013 – School Funding and Diversion of Public Funds to Private Providers

The state legislature’s repeated cuts to the education budget have forced superintendents and school administrators to scale back or eliminate some much-needed supports for students. We expect additional attacks on funding for traditional public schools in 2013, including efforts to expand the availability of vouchers for private-school education. Such vouchers never provide enough money for low-income families to send their students to private schools; rather, they subsidize private education for those who are already well-off. Moreover, these schools would have no accountability for their use of public funds.

The Education and Law Project will be at the legislature and in the courts, fighting budget cuts and protecting North Carolina’s valuable public education system from the for-profit corporate vultures that are circling to take whatever money they can.

Annual Reports on Education & Law

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007<1a>