Southern Education Foundation Submits Amicus Brief Highlighting How Leandro Plan Will Benefit All of North Carolina’s Students
Brief Illustrates How Leandro Plan Guarantees Constitutional Rights of Children to Quality Education
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATLANTA, JULY 29, 2022 ⎯ The Southern Education Foundation (SEF), a 155-year-old nonprofit dedicated to achieving education equity in the South, filed a joint amici curiae brief in the Supreme Court of North Carolina in late July involving a case challenging documenting the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan’s yet-to-be-realized potential for improving education for North Carolina students.
More than 140 organizations representing education, civil rights, philanthropic, and community groups from across North Carolina have supported the brief. It outlines the benefits to students (particularly those whose constitutional rights have been most violated) of full funding of the Plan.
North Carolina’s efforts to provide a sound basic education for every child date back to the 1868 State Constitution requiring the General Assembly to provide “a general and uniform system of public schools, wherein tuition shall be free of charge to all of the children of the State.” The brief documents how North Carolina has fallen further below the constitutional minimum since the Supreme Court last declared the state’s education system unconstitutional in 2004. Notably, the state’s school funding effort is now among the worst in the nation.
The brief discusses:
- How in the decades since Leandro II, North Carolina has fallen further below the constitutional minimum;
- How adequately funding the Comprehensive Remedial Plan will improve outcomes, particularly for historically underfunded student populations outlined in the Leandro case; and
- How the Comprehensive Remedial Plan relies upon experience and feedback of the local communities that have long been denied a sound basic education for their children.
From the brief: “If North Carolina had met just the national average funding effort level in 2019-20 (the most recent year for which this calculation can be made), public schools in North Carolina would have received an additional $6 billion in state funding.”
“In North Carolina, as in many other states, the public school system is failing to provide each child with the basic and sound education guaranteed by the state constitution, and ensuring all children have access to the educational resources they need,” said SEF President and CEO Raymond Pierce. “Denying this only serves to increase segregation and the education inequities that create barriers to opportunity for Black and Brown students, and students from low-income families.”
The Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan reverses these trends by making targeted, research-based, and community-informed investments that will boost students’ academic outcomes and opportunities.
- These constitutionally-mandated investments will particularly benefit students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and students from working class families with low incomes.
- The Plan provides the bare minimum of what’s necessary to correct the State’s decades-long denial of children’s fundamental constitutional rights.
The brief notes: The longstanding and worsening denial of the fundamental rights of North Carolina students to a sound basic education cannot be allowed to persist. And a toothless paper remedy that will never be implemented does not suffice. This Court should affirm, in response to nearly 20 years of legislative inaction and obstruction, that the General Assembly’s “power of the purse”… is not a blank check to defy this Court’s orders or to make political hay at the expense of North Carolina’s students.
The amicus brief was supported by the North Carolina Justice Center and the Every Child North Carolina Coalition and included: NC Child, Disability Rights NC, Advance Carolina, North Carolina State Conference of Branches of the NAACP, North Carolina Association of Educators, and Education Justice Alliance.
About the Southern Education Foundation
Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation also has a long history of developing leaders in education and was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at https://southerneducation.org
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