July 21, 2005

Easley Moves Ahead on Education

Governor Mike Easley (NC) sent $75 Million to the state's schools today without legislature approval - Good For Him! The legislature has been caught up in a fight between Democrats and Democrats. The sticking point appears to be taxes, Democrats want tax breaks for the rich and corporations with savings through Medicaid cuts, while Democrats want no Medicaid cuts nor tax cuts for the rich. It appears everyone wants tax cuts for corporations. Go figure.

The Republicans? They don't care, we're killing ourselves, why should they bother.

The state is under a court order to make schools better for the poor and not just for the wealthiest North Carolinians. The Easley money goes to:

* $22.5 million to continue a fund for disadvantaged students in 16 of the state's poorest districts. Easley initiated funding for that purpose last year, after the legislature adjourned without acting on it.

* A $16.6 million increase in money the state distributes to about 70 "low wealth" school districts, where local resources for schools fall below the state average. Last year, those districts got $109 million, and Easley has proposed that the allocation be raised in the 2006-07 fiscal year by $42 million.

* $16.6 million to expand More at Four, increasing enrollment capacity for 4-year-olds by 3,200. Last year, the program received about $49 million and reached about 13,600 children.

* Nearly $6 million on high school reform projects, including 15 small-scale "Learn and Earn" schools that will be cooperative ventures with community colleges. There will also be 11 other smaller high schools oriented toward particular economic-development themes, such as health science.

* $11 million for an initiative to open 100 school-based child and family support teams through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

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