Making Democracy Work

Public Education

  • Click here for Frequently Asked Questions with Answers on Public Education, and Reports and Summaries of Previous Meetings, Forums, and Panel Discussions.

  • Members interested in advocacy on behalf of public education are invited to join the LWVODC Public Education Action Team which meets monthly.

Monthly Meeting

Join the LWVODC Public Education Action Team for its monthly meeting on Monday, June 4, 2018, 1:00 pm

Chapel Hill Community Libary
100 Library Way
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Meeting room D

We will discuss current issues in public education and review plans for the film Backpack Full of Cash, which will be shown on September 13, 2018.

Special Event - Film: Backpack Full of Cash

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Durham Technical Community College Educational Resources Center
Room 5-100, Building 5
1637 E. Lawson Street
Durham, NC 27701

Free parking is available in Lot F and in Lot B

The film, Backpack Full of Cash, narrated by Matt Damon, explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America's most vulnerable children.

This 90-minute documentary takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, into the world of what is now called education "reform." In Philadelphia and other big cities, public education - starved of resources - hangs in the balance. NC is at a crossroads as we see more and more privatization of our public schools.

The filmmakers are part of the team that made the award-winning 4-part PBS series, SCHOOL: The Story of Public Education, narrated by Meryl Streep. Directed by: Sarah Mondale. Produced by: Vera Aronow and Sarah Mondale FREE TO THE PUBLIC. Panel discussion with public education leaders will follow the film along with Q&A from audience.

January 11, 2018 discussion of What's new in NC Public Education

At a forum sponsored by the LWVODC on January 11, 2018 LaTanya Pattillo, Teacher Advisor to Governor Roy Cooper, addressed the pressing issue of the class size mandate. Ms Pattillo asked:
- How is this impacting each district?
- What are your thoughts?
- How do we fix it?

She said, "We need to hear from you on this issue. The governor's position is: Either fund this mandate or phase it in." Ms Pattillo said that Governor Cooper's policy team aims to:
1. Insure that all children arrive in kindergarten healthy and ready to learn,
2. Insure that all children graduate from high school career ready or college ready, and
3. Work to raise the credentials of both high school graduates and other adults with the goal of a well-qualified workforce.

The audience included two superintendents, a school board member and other persons with expertise on this issue. Comments from the audience included:
- There is economic disparity in the state. In some counties the teachers are paid more than the median income of residents.
- Teachers are not solely responsible for what happens in schools. Students' ability to learn is impacted by poverty, hunger, homelessness and other community problems.
- Durham would have to build 63 classrooms to comply with the mandate.
- We need a bold vision from the Governor.
- There is a shortage of effective teachers to meet resulting in potentially causing the mandate district to fall back on hiring less qualified teachers.

Janet Hoy, co-president of the LWV of North Carolina, closed the discussion with the comment that we need to see questions about public education in the context of larger issues of poverty, inequality and the lack of an adequate social safety net for families.

The video of the forum is divided into 3 parts because of its length. Click on each of the videos below to watch. Video 1 of 3, Video 2 of 3, and Video 3 of 3

Photos from the forum:

Mary Kolek, Co-leader of the LWVNC Public Education Action Team, introduces LaTanya Pattillo.

LaTanya Pattillo speaks to the forum.

Janet Hoy, Co-president of LWVNC

January 11, 2018 discussion of What's new in NC Public Education.

November 14, 2016, Presentation: Public Education and the Legislature: What's on the horizon?

With a politically divided government -- a Republican majority in the NC legislature and a probable Democratic Governor, how can advocates for public education be effective? Newly reelected Representative Graig Meyer spoke to this question at a LWVODC forum on November 14, 2016.

Addressing an audience of about a hundred persons, ranging in age from 8 weeks to 80 years, Meyer provided not only a detailing of recent and pending issues and legislative actions, but as importantly, provided a surprisingly optimistic perspective on opportunities that may exist in the current climate. He noted that times characterized by division and disruption, while disconcerting, may offer fertile ground for new and innovative ideas and proposals, i.e., those that are not part of an entrenched political system may have a chance to emerge and garner bipartisan support. Advocacy groups must answer the essential questions: Where and how do we take stands? Where do we find common ground? Then through coordinating their efforts and numbers, they can strive to play a mediating role. Read more about Meyer's views on issues in public education and higher education and educational concerns of the audience.

Representative Meyer's presentation can be watched on Youtube. Because of the length of the video, it is posted in two parts. Part 1 and Part 2

Meyer's Slides

Pictures from Presentation

Pam Oxendine, President of the LWVODC, opens the meeting. Vicki Boyer and Rep. Meyer are standing beside her.

Rep. Meyers addressing audience

The youngest person in the audience. Adequate funding of public education is important for her future.

An attentive audience

Rep. Graig Meyer Bio: From the Equity Collaborative, a national consulting firm focused on helping educational and youth development organization: "Graig Meyer is a social worker, educator, and youth development specialist working as an Equity Leadership Coach and partner in The Equity Collaborative. Graig has sixteen years of experience leading equity work in public schools. He was the director of the nationally recognized Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program. He also served as the Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (NC) City Schools. Graig was one of the co-creators of the Student Six: Strategies for Culturally Proficient Classroom Practice, which has been nationally recognized for its innovative use of student voice to train teachers in research based best practice. Graig works with school districts and non-profits nationally from his base in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Graig is also a member of the North Carolina General Assembly."

2016 Potential NC School Legislation

Pending and potential legislation expected to come out of the NC General Assembly this summer and next winter.

Five legislative issues could have a grave impact on public education in North Carolina:

1. Plans for an Achievement School District (ASD) have passed the Senate and gone to the House. There are more than enough votes there to pass it. The ASD would remove the lowest five percent of elementary schools from their local districts and put them into a special district, with a superintendent who has the power to turn over control to corporate charter school administrators. Five schools is the starting point. The door is then open to force more schools into the Achievement district in successive years. There will be no local control or accountability for tax dollars going to these schools. Read more about it on Public Schools First:

House Bill 1080:

2. The grading system for schools, based on test scores, is being reviewed and can put more schools into the 'failing' category, making them eligible for inclusion in the Achievement school district. The scale may be changed this year from a 15 point scale to a 10 point scale which would be even worse. It will increase the number of public schools receiving D and F ratings..

3. Money for school vouchers is to be quadrupled over the next 5 years. The voucher money goes to private schools, some of which are religious-based, as tuition for students who leave public schools. For more information see Public Schools First Quick Facts:

4. Fund 8 money. Traditional public schools are experiencing financial distress from continued loss of funding, and now face a bill that will force them to take portions of federal funds for transportation and school lunches and turn it over to charter schools. Charters will get portions of federal funds intended for specific services that the charters do not even offer.

5. And then we have the threat of an amendment to the state constitution, the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR. TABOR is part of an attempt to limit the growth of government by limiting increases in funding. Senate Bill 607 creates a complex formula for greater spending based on population growth and cost of living increases. Anything beyond that would require a 2/3's majority vote in both houses. If passed by the House, this would go on the November 2016 general election ballot as a constitutional amendment. Since operating expenses of public schools in NC are funded primarily by the state budget, the impacts on education will be staggering.

Senate Bill 607:

All of this is on top of repeated cuts to school funding over the past few years.

Resource Information and Materials


  • Public Schools First
    - Supports public schools through information, education and engagement.
    - Sends legislative updates, provides information on the status of bills and how they would affect public schools in North Carolina. Sign up for email updates.

  • NC Chatham Education Foundation Orgainization Chatham Education Foundation strengthens communities in Chatham County, NC by partnering with community residents, businesses, and foundations to improve education opportunities for public school students. Their mission is to open doors to educational and personal growth for all students in Chatham County Schools (CCS). Their vision is to maximize community investment in the CCS district to support the success of self-sustaining graduates committed to both life-long learning and to their community.

  • North Carolina Justice Center The NC Justice Center is a multi-issue organization. One of those issues is Financing Education in North Carolina.

    Its Home Page states: "The North Carolina Justice Center is the state's leading research and advocacy organization dedicated to transforming North Carolina's prosperity into opportunity for all. Our mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs in order to enjoy economic security. 2016 The NC Justice Center"

  • NC Policy Watch Education
    News and commentary on public policies in NC.

  • Communities in Schools North Carolina
    CISNC is an independently incorporated not-for-profit organization whose mission is: To champion the connection of needed community resources with schools and other sites to help young people successfully learn, stay in school, and prepare for life.

  • North Carolina Association of Educators
    Association of more than 70,000 active and retired educators whose mission is: maximize the effectiveness of the public school system in educating all children.

  • North Carolina Association of School Administrators
    NCASA is an umbrella organization for school administrators with the mission: insuring quality-learning experiences for all students through visionary and effective leadership.

  • North Carolina Business Committee For Education
    Partnered with Governor Easley's Center for 21st Century Skills, the NCBCE is an organization committed to: changing North Carolina's education system to ensure that students leave school better prepared to succeed in the global economy.

  • North Carolina PTA
    The North Carolina PTA is an organization for parents and teachers whose mission is to: support and speak on the behalf of children in the schools, help parents develop skills to raise and protect their children, and to encourage parent and public involvement.

  • North Carolina School Boards Association
    The mission of the North Carolina School Boards Association, as an advocate for public school education, is to provide leadership and services that enable local boards of education to govern effectively.

  • Public School Forum of North Carolina
    For those looking for a resource that is comprehensive in presenting and analyzing past, current and emergent issues in public education, we recommend you begin with the Public School Forum of North Carolina website.

    As noted in their overview, since 1986, the Forum has served as a nonpartisan advocate for better schools, bringing together people from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus and ultimately inform and shape education policy.

    The work of the Forum is highly respected and includes promoting sound research and analysis, framing ideas and issues, providing policy options, and finding nonpartisan common ground for consensus-based education policy making. The site is robust and includes a range of publications, access to weekly briefs, program information and helpful links. For those seeking to understand current issues, we direct you toward: Policy Briefs and Research Publications, Top Ten Educational Issues, Policymakers' Education Prime and Local School Finance Study among just a few of available resources.


LWVODC Guide for Action and Advocacy


The League of Women Voters (LWV) believes strongly that high quality public education for all children is necessary to sustain our democratic way of life and the economic health of our state and the people. Furthermore, having studied education issues at the national, state and local levels for many decades, the LWV concludes that adequate funding is essential to the ability of the state to provide and sustain such an education.