A Beaufort County education

Published 8:55 pm Monday, March 3, 2014

Education has become a hot-button issue in North Carolina. Some believe teachers are no more than glorified babysitters; others believe teachers, charged with providing the building blocks for a successful life, are worth their weight in gold, and should be paid accordingly. Some believe charter schools should be funded with public monies; others believe the North Carolina Constitution should be followed — only public schools get public monies.

And some are right in the middle.

How public schools are funded is determined by our General Assembly. The members of our General Assembly are elected by us, the voters. Ultimately, that means we are personally responsible for whether teachers get a raise, whether the public school system is adequately funded, depending on how we vote.

On the surface, this issue may seem like it breaks down along party lines, but it doesn’t. The North Carolina Association of Educators, the union representing teachers in the state, counts 10,000 Republicans among its numbers.

Broad statements like Republicans are against education and Democrats are for it, paint black and white statement about a very gray issue.

Fact is, everyone should care about public education. Whether you have children or not; whether you have four children in private schools, or two in public schools; whether you have a high-school education or multiple degrees; whether you are a teacher or custodian; whether you are 18 years old or 75 — everyone should care, because public education contributes to the quality of life for us all.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. A teacher with too many children and no assistance in the classroom may not be able to spend the time to help lagging students. A lagging student unable to get the help he needs might decide to drop out of school once he hits a certain age. A high school dropout may be unemployable. An unemployable person, with no means to support themselves, may turn to crime. A crime can happen to you or your loved ones.

What happens in our classrooms affects us all.

Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Washington High School auditorium, legislators and candidates running for Senate District 1, House District 3 and House District 6 have been invited to an education forum, where each will respond to pre-selected questions and audience members can submit their own.

Regardless of your political leanings, this is an opportunity to hear what our legislators and other candidates for those offices believe about education and our state’s public school system. It’s an opportunity to hear, in their words, how they would support the futures of North Carolina children.

Everyone is encouraged to attend.