Judge Howard Manning Jr.'s order, media coverage and public debate about education funding have ignored one extremely important line in the state budget. Section 7.13.(ee) repeals the statute requiring personal education plans (PEPs) for students at risk of academic failure. PEPs must include diagnostic evaluations, interventions (e.g., tutoring, smaller classes, summer school) and monitoring strategies.
The repeal is:
Harmful. Last year, 375,000+ students failed at least one end-of-year exam, and thousands more needed PEPs based on grades, absenteeism and suspension.
Cowardly. Lawmakers buried it in the budget, without public explanation or discussion.
Racist and classist. It will disproportionately impact students of color and economically disadvantaged students because they're disproportionately below grade level.
Hypocritical. North Carolina cited the PEP statute in its Race to the Top proposal as an innovation aimed at increasing student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps.
Shortsighted. As more students fail and/or drop out as a result of not getting needed help, the state will lose revenue from declining economic productivity and spend more on social programs.
Finally, repeal will lead to unconstitutional outcomes. Students in North Carolina have a right to an opportunity to receive a sound basic education. PEPs help many avail themselves of this right.