05/23/11 — Education fight: Both sides are stubborn. Budget might be long way away.

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Education fight: Both sides are stubborn. Budget might be long way away.

It is really not all that unexpected that the state's Republicans and Democrats are at odds over what to do about education funding and the state budget.

There are political reasons for each stand, of course. Republicans want to keep their promise to reduce the burden on taxpayers, and Democrats do not want to alienate one of the largest voting blocs in the state.

So, of course there is going to be posturing and jostling for attention. That is how it works.

But there is an important issue here -- and one that is fundamental to North Carolina's future.

What are we going to do about education?

Money might not make a school district -- and there are also other factors that influence student success -- but cutting a budget too much does things like increase class sizes, cut special programs for students and make materials and items like books and classroom supplies very hard to come by.

There is no question that there has been some waste at the state level in education -- and some stress on local budgets caused by unfunded federal mandates that mire administrators and teachers in paperwork when they could be helping students.

There is nothing wrong with asking school districts and state departments of education or federal education officials to trim their budgets. If there is an area in which money can be saved, it should be saved.

But throwing the baby out with the bath water -- and saving a couple cents on a sales tax just so local school districts will have to seek property tax hikes to survive -- that is just shortsighted.

There is a compromise to be found here -- one where money can be saved, excess eliminated and we can still do a good job of funding schools.

And there is nothing wrong with demanding that our legislators and governor work together to find it.

Published in Editorials on May 23, 2011 12:40 PM