By | December 11, 2019

Non-profit education agency was tasked by North Carolina court overseeing landmark Leandro case to study what actions are needed to meet the constitutional requirement of a sound basic education for all students

Raleigh

More than 20 years after a North Carolina court ruled that the state has a constitutional duty to provide a sound basic education to all students, Governor Roy Cooper has helped convene the parties to come to a specific resolution that will benefit North Carolina students. Today, the court appointed non-profit education agency WestEd filed its report on specific actions North Carolina can take to fulfill its constitutional obligations.

“If North Carolina is to remain economically competitive, then every child in our state must receive a high-quality education as promised in our state constitution. Your zip-code shouldn’t determine your future, and this groundbreaking report shows that we need to make significant investments in our public schools, strengthen our teacher and principal pipelines, and greatly expand early childhood learning opportunities for our most at-risk students. It’s time for a specific plan to get the job done, and I look forward to continuing to work with the State Board of Education and the plaintiffs in the case on developing that plan,” said Governor Cooper.

The WestEd report marks the latest development in the state’s efforts to address the landmark ruling in the Leandro case. The 1997 and 2004 court decisions in the case reaffirmed North Carolina’s constitutional duty to provide a sound basic education to all students and required the state to identify specific resources needed to ensure that all children, especially those who are at-risk or from rural and underserved communities, have access to that opportunity. Since these rulings, North Carolina has struggled to live up to this constitutional requirement and the case has continued.

For the first time in the 20-year court case, upon taking office in 2017, Governor Cooper joined together with the plaintiffs in the case to work collaboratively on a plan for ensuring the state is able to meet its constitutional obligations. The court appointment of an outside consultant, WestEd, was one of the actions Governor Cooper and the plaintiffs agreed to pursue.

WestEd’s research found that, despite previous efforts to improve, North Carolina continues to fall short in its obligation to provide a sound basic education to all students. The report identified eight critical action areas on which the state should focus, including providing more resources to support the education of the state’s at-risk students.

As part of his collaboration with the plaintiffs in the case, Governor Cooper created the Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education through executive order. Chaired by Brad Wilson, the commission has worked collaboratively with WestEd to identify specific strategies to address the Leandro case.

“It is both a constitutional and a moral imperative that we ensure that a high-quality education is available to each and every child in North Carolina,” said Brad Wilson, Chair of the Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education. “With West Ed’s research, the Commission’s work thus far, and Governor Cooper’s leadership, we now have a unique opportunity to create a robust, collaborative plan of action for ensuring every student is guaranteed access to a sound basic education.”

Read the full report HERE.