HILLSBOROUGH – While our nation’s senators debate one of the first major education bills in a decade, one local education board member is speaking up.
“At this point, I would prefer to have a little bit more federal involvement because of the direction our state is going in right now,” Sanders says. “With some of the things they’ve passed, they’re hurting public education.”
That’s Orange County Board of Education member, Lawrence Sanders, a member of Orange County’s Board of Education, who says he opposes the Student Success Act (SSA) because of the state of education in North Carolina.
The SSA, passed by the U.S. House last week, would undo many of the federal guidelines for schools set out in a 2002 law, No Child Left Behind. These guidelines include how to evaluate schools, how to spend federal money on certain aspects of schools, and how to handle a failing school.
With guidelines for how to evaluate schools going back to states, Sanders says he’s is not optimistic about how the new process would go.
“I’m just not sure how that’s going to be handled when you look at the state of North Carolina,” Sanders says. “Right now, there’s not a lot of support being shown to teachers.”
On top of that, Sanders says the SSA does not help states move away from using testing as the main assessment metric.
“It continues to have the emphasis on the testing. What that does is have teachers focus a lot more on testing than they should,” Sanders says.
In addition, the SSA keeps federal education spending at the sequester rates, which Sanders says would lead to a cut of about $1 billion nationally.
“To some degree, it’s going to translate down to some dollars being lost for OrangeCounty schools as well,” Sanders says.
Sanders calls the SSA part of a nationwide effort to dismantle public education.
“It’s all, to me, an effort to continue to promote charter schools, especially those run by for-profit organizations,” Sanders says. “As well as the voucher program, which I refuse to believe will help poor or disabled or non-English speaking students.”
The bill, divided along party lines in the House, is now heading to the Senate, where the Democratic majority has its own education bill.