Opinion

This ain’t New Jersey

No offense to any of you transplants, but let’s just be honest. Y’all who moved down here from up North (Yankees my mamma warned me about) shake your heads and talk about us as if we are stupid. On some issues, we are: “Right to work” laws, Duke Energy buying a governor, and Confederate statues outside of courthouses – all stupid. But one thing North Carolina was smarter than New Jersey about is our excellent “uniform” system of public schools.

Governors Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt elevated public education to exceptional highs across the entire state recognized that education can fight poverty. The Constitutional rewrite of 1971 laid out the parameters, but Hunt made it his priority to invest in education and celebrate teachers as professionals. It worked. North Carolina became the flagship of the progressive South. Hunt’s model of accountability (ABCs), which was strictly a carrot system of rewards, motivated school districts across the state to step up their game. For a while schools flourished from Wilmington to Asheville, making it less dire to buy a house in the “right” school district.

Being rich in New Jersey entitles you to a good school because schools are funded almost entirely by local taxes. If you can afford to live in the “good school district” you get better schools. In North Carolina we believe every student deserves a good school. Schools our students deserve are funded at the state level. The General Assembly needs to be reminded of this every single day.

Allison Mahaley

Hillsborough

Founder, Orange County Strong

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