Today, Carolina Forward is proud to launch our latest issue spot statewide: “Defend Our Schools.”
The ad, which calls on North Carolinians to defend public schools across our state, is being broadcast on multiple digital platforms statewide. It’s viewable here on YouTube:
The ninety-second video is steeped in Carolina history: Governors Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt make prominent appearances, along with the legendary investments made by previous state legislatures in the state’s K-12 and university systems. These all provide a bright contrast to recent declines in school support, increases in class sizes, and efforts to politicize education through book bans and school board protests.
The most recent attempt to expand North Carolina’s private school voucher program has encountered strong resistance. A technical analysis released by the Office of State Budget and Management found that the proposed expansion would remove $200 million from the state public school system while flooding the voucher program with over a quarter of a billion dollars. That analysis prompted an open letter signed by 19 rural county superintendents, a resolution from the North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board Members, and a statement from a bipartisan list of state education leaders and experts, all strongly opposing the expansion.
Not surprisingly, public polling on private school vouchers is sharply negative. An outright majority of 54% of North Carolina voters are opposed to using public funds to pay for students to attend private religious schools, as vouchers do:
Recent revelations of widespread fraud in the private school voucher system - including ghost students, whole ghost schools, and a complete lack of state oversight - have also raised deep concerns about the misuse of taxpayer money.
"Defend Our Schools" reminds viewers that North Carolina has a constitutional - as well as moral - obligation to its future generations to equip them with a basic educational preparation. Our state is failing that obligation today, and only voters can force our leaders to change course.