The disrespect that Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature hold for our public school system borders on outright contempt.
They don’t want to pay teachers — starting pay in 2022 was No. 46 in the nation at $37,127 and our top pay rate of $63,659 is No. 42. They have been fighting the Leandro decision, which would require the state to properly fund all public schools as guaranteed in our state constitution, since it was decided in 1997. And they have been furthering the decimation of our public schools with strong advocacy for charter schools, which in 2021 siphoned off $848 million of the $10.6 billion allocated for public education in the state budget.
And they show disdain for students and parents alike with SB49, the Parents Bill of Rights, which has already passed the Senate.
Among the fairly commonsense provisions — a right to see their kids’ grades, a right for their children to be assessed for special education, a right to refuse healthcare for their children — are a few Easter eggs for paranoid conservatives who are completely out of touch with parents in this state.
For example, “Instruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality” cannot be a part of any curriculum between Kindergarten and fourth grade. These items are not currently part of state-mandated curricula.
Most egregious is the stipulation that teachers must report to parents if their student asks for a name or preferred-pronoun change.
What, exactly, is this supposed to accomplish?
Many parents of LGBTQ+ kids know exactly who their children are, which means there is no reason for the state, via public schools, to get involved.
What the Senate never explored is why some kids choose not to share their true identities with their parents. But the answer is fairly obvious: It would expose them to abuse, punishment, attempts at conversion or, sometimes, outright expulsion from the family unit.
So who is this supposed to help? Not the students, certainly, who are trying to figure out who they are. Not most parents, who know their children better than most of their teachers. The law seems designed to appeal to homophobes, and to empower them to act on their irrational fears.
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