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This didn’t start when the Republicans took over the legislature in 2010. It dates back to the US Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated schools in 1954.

Now, a toxic crew of racists, right-wingers and private-school profiteers smell victory.

Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Governors, legislators and school boards across the South pulled out every stop to avoid integration. Many wanted to shut down the public schools, and some states did. North Carolina had courageous leaders who bucked the tide. Beverly Lake would have done it if he had been elected Governor in 1960, but Terry Sanford beat him and stopped him. Still, it was a close thing.

Now there’s really nothing to stop them. Except the voters. And a recent poll by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation suggests that the voters want to stop them:

  • 59% believe K-12 public education in the state of North Carolina is on the wrong track,
  • 80% of voters agree “state policy and funding decisions are putting greater burdens on our local schools and giving them fewer resources to educate our students.”
  • 76% believe it is highly important to “make sure the school district is adequately funded to provide a 21st century education.”
  • 62% identify underpaid teachers as a problem
  • 73% agree public money should not go to private schools
  • 71% agree tax dollars should not go to for-profit companies who run charter schools that are not accountable to taxpayers for delivering student outcomes in the same way local public schools are.
  • 71% believe it is very important that state laws, policies and regulations should require the same measures and level of accountability for student performance from every charter or private school that receives taxpayer funds.

This is a winning formula for Democrats. Two questions: Will they, can they seize it? And what exactly will they do to fix it when and if they return to power?

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