Saturday, May 27, 2017

NC: Vindictive GOP Cuts Education Just Because

This is now two-week old news, but I swear-- in the current climate, somebody can murder a nun with his bare hands in front of a bus full of young orphans, and the outrage will die down in less than twelve hours (or be replaced by the outrage over a new awfulness). I almost passed on this story, thinking it was past time to comment on it.

It's only two weeks old, and that makes it moldy and stale-- except that the outrage over this should be endless. I mean, God bless the people who keep a steady count of the number of days the people of Flint have gone without clean water, because leaders in Michigan poisoned an entire city and the country was in an uproar, and then-- squirrel!!

I imagine these days a politician who intends to do something terrible, even if he understands that a lot of people will call it terrible, figures that after twenty-four hours of anguished tweeting and blogging and the sharing thereof, everyone will just move on, and all the politicians have to do is run out the clock.

Maybe democracy got lost in those hills somewhere
So if you ask me how the GOP of North Carolina keeps doing terrible things, I'm betting that's part of the explanation. "Don't worry boys," someone days in a back room. "In about two days the fuss will blow over and our newest plan will still be in place."

So two weeks back, Senate Republicans got testy about the length of budget debate, so they called a recess after midnight, and came back at 3 AM with, among other things, an amendment to combat the opioids crisis.

What they didn't mention was that the million dollar program would be funded by cutting the education support for the districts of Senate Democrats. This included some very specific chopping. For instance, a program to help teacher assistants become full-fledged teachers didn't have its funding cut, but the program itself is now only allowed in GOP districts. As Dems skew rural and minority in NC, that means that areas that particularly need to get more future teachers in the pipeline have now had that pipeline tightened instead. Another cut removes support for getting fruits and vegetables into school lunches-- but only in Democrat-represented districts.

NC Republicans have been spanked twice this month by the Supreme Court, with that court striking down measures intended to reduce the non-white vote and negating some of NC's spectacular gerrymandering. According to the New York Times, NC Republicans will just rewrite the laws.

It is fair to note that NC Dems were not exactly models of fair play and democracy when they had power. But the NC GOP has abandoned all pretense of fairness or cooperation. Besides trying to find new ways to bring racist Jim Crow practices back to government, they have rewritten the rules of government to try to keep a newly-elected Democratic governor from doing his job, worked steadily to destroy the teaching profession, and designed bold new ways to destroy public education.

North Carolina might once have stamped "First in Flight" on its license plates, and it has a nifty Latin motto, but it seems that the signs greeting visitors to North Carolina should be read "North Carolina: Where Democracy Goes To Die." Anyone who cares about North Carolina should keep paying attention and keep making noise.

1 comment:

  1. The problem here in NC is that the GOP super-majority in the legislature is totally unaccountable. They managed to ride the 2010 anti-incumbent wave into a majority in both houses and then proceeded to implement the most radical partisan gerrymander in the entire nation (it even makes PA look positively equitable by comparison.) The vast majority of GOP legislators have no fear whatsoever of being turned out in an election and feel free to do whatever their hard-right constituents want since we have closed primaries and they only need to worry about other Republicans due to the gerrymander. There are plenty of Democratic areas in NC (though concentrated in the larger cities and towns) and overall the state is fairly evenly split between parties, as shown by statewide elections where Dems still have a good chance. But an election that saw a Democratic governor oust a first-term GOP governor (the first time a sitting governor hasn't been re-elected in the last 166 years in NC) also saw the re-election of a legislative super-majority in both houses for the GOP. There's simply no way until their gerrymander is fully overturned for anyone to make these yahoos pay for the laws they pass, no matter how bad (i.e., HB2, which was certainly a factor in sending McCrory packing.) As a teacher in a very Dem and very well-off area, I'm somewhat insulated from the effects of what the legislature has done, but even we will feel the pinch. What it's going to do to the poorer city school systems (Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham) is going to be devastating. But they still won't pay the price for what they've done, no matter how many voters beyond their core supporters want to make them.