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If Richard Moore and Beverly Perdue stop sniping over resumes, degrees and ages, they will see the real target in the Governor’s race. And they can remind voters why North Carolina needs a Democratic governor next year.

Republicans always say that North Carolina’s schools are failing. Their solution, always, is to starve the schools of money. A new study on poverty and Southern schools shows why that is nuts.

The study by the Southern Education Foundation showed that – in 11 Southern states – a majority of the children in public schools are poor. In the 12th, North Carolina, the number is 49 percent.

In other words, half of our students are coming to public schools every day from homes of need, poverty and deprivation.

And we expect teachers and principals to overcome those obstacles.

There is a straight-line relationship between students’ family backgrounds and their performance in school.

The only way to overcome this drag is heavy investment in education and, especially, in early childhood programs – like Smart Start and More At Four.

Let’s be clear: “Heavy investment” means spending more money.

And the public supports more money if there also are tough standards and accountability measures.

The hidden agenda of the Republican candidates for Governor (with the possible exception of Bob Orr) is to cut education spending, not raise it. That’s why Democrats have held the Governor’s Office for sixteen years. And it’s why we should stay there for at least four more.

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