August 11, 2020

Last week, NC state senators Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) sent a letter to the NCAE teachers union suggesting that, because the group applied much of the political pressure that led to school closures and in-person learning limitations, the NCAE dedicate a portion of its dues to fund scholarships for low-income children to attend learning centers in Wake County.”

According to in Raleigh, “the YMCA and other organizations are providing ‘learning centers [to] offer ‘socially-distanced student workspaces’ with internet access and trained staff’ to ‘give students a place to go for those lessons while parents work.’” The centers cost parents $24 a day.

In their letter to the NCAE, Senators Hise and Ballard reasoned, “Your organization has led the fight to keep schools closed. The success of your school closure push means children do not have equal access to education. A private contribution from the NCAE can help mitigate the damage of school closures on low-income families brought about by your lobbying efforts.”

Here’s the backdrop:

When Governor Cooper didn’t provide parents with the option of full-time in-person instruction, the NCAE exerted its political power and urged schools to close. Many parents and children are being rocked by the resulting decisions made by North Carolina school districts.

Remember what NC Senate Leader Phil Berger said back in July when the state’s school re-opening plan was unveiled:

“Gov. Cooper’s plan gets students halfway to where they need to be….The Governor’s plan makes worse the very inequities a public school system is supposed to resolve. Students whose parents do not have the time or resources to supplement ‘virtual’ schooling will fall even further behind simply because of the condition of their birth. That’s an unspeakable travesty.”

Senator Berger was right. Now that school plans have been decided on and put in place in the state’s 100 counties, the reality of how this will affect the children is coming to light.

What happens to the children of non-affluent families where both parents work in the “off-week school schedule counties? What about the schools that are closed? As Senator Berger asked when the plan was announced, what are parents supposed to do who can’t take off work to be home for remote learning days? What about single parents who must work? What about families that don’t have access to virtual learning?

The Senators’ letter last week cited a group of Harvard public health professors that “recently wrote that preventing students from learning in the classroom ‘will be an educational disaster that some children may never recover from.’”

We applaud Senator Hise and Senator Ballard’s call for action by the left-leaning NCAE teachers union to do the right thing and help fund these learning center opportunities so that it may become a statewide initiative.