For the sake of improving education in N.C., J. Peder Zane asked in his Nov. 20 column “To fix our schools, stop moralizing” that we forget the past to move forward while he parrots an oft-repeated false equivalency.
Teacher pay freezes, Zane said, occurred under both Democratic and Republican leadership, so both sides are at fault. This assertion is true but misleading. The Democrats controlled both chambers of the N.C. legislature when the recession began and did indeed halt teacher pay raises. Whether this was a prudent choice or not can be reasonably debated. Zane then asserts that this action is the same as multiple years of post-recession pay freezes under a Republican legislature. A year or two of flat pay during a recession is hardly equivalent to a fifth or sixth year of no raises when state revenues have begun to increase and the GOP has found the budgetary means to fund its priorities (lowering corporate taxes, decreasing taxes on yacht purchases and suspending deductions for college savings plans).
Given that our attempts to improve education will continue to involve debates over funding and retaining good teachers, we cannot continue this conversation by misconstruing the past. Let’s start with a candid appraisal of the past and party priorities.