More Money Will Not Improve School Performance

One of the reasons why I am running for Wake County School Board is to improve school performance. During a recent PTA forum, I was asked a question about the Leandro case.  As a NC public school parent for over 14 years and as a school board candidate, I only heard of Leandro in passing.

Leandro may be central to the advocacy agenda of the PTA, but it is far removed from the day-to-day concerns of school board members.

“The primary cause of the failure to achieve grade-level performance in reading is not money, but a failure of classroom instruction and the leadership in a school. ~ Judge Howard Manning

Neither Leandro nor the WestEd report offer any guidance about the realities of operating a school district during a pandemic.  I have spent my time listening to advice of health experts, educators, and families, rather than ruminate on the disagreements between the General Assembly and the Leandro plaintiffs and defendants.

I encourage the PTA to comb the minutes of school board meetings for mentions of Leandro, WestEd, or related matters over the last six months.

Judge Howard Manning, who presided over the Leandro case, states that “The primary cause of the failure to achieve grade-level performance in reading is not money, but a failure of classroom instruction and the leadership in a school.” Manning continues, “Many school districts have not seen that growth and reading remains stagnant. That points to a failure of implementation, not policy.

As a tax payer and parent, don’t you want to know the return of investment when it comes to education? Here’s the ROI:

  • In 2019, North Carolina finished 37th (C-) among the 50 states
  • 4th grade reading is 38.5%
  • 8th grade math is 34.9%
  • 56.8% of third-graders achieved grade-level proficiency scores on their end-of-grade reading exams.
  • Nearly half of the schools in district 2 have a D or F
  • While third grade reading proficiency remains static, average teacher pay in North Carolina has risen from $44,990 in 2013-14 to $54,682 in 2019-20.

More Money Will Not Improve School Performance

As I mentioned during the PTA forum, money seems to be the magic wand when it comes to solving our educational woes. For example, Lincoln Heights Elementary right here in district 2, is a big spender at $13,000 per student and is a low performing school. There is no correlation between money spent and school performance.

“If Leandro is central to our decision making as a school board member, as my opponent Monika Johnson-Hostler says it is, perhaps she can point to the number of times that the case has been discussed at length during the pandemic.” ~ Greg Hahn

The legislative agenda of the North Carolina School Board Association accurately reflects the concerns of school board members and candidates. That is why it’s puzzling that the PTA chose to ignore these issues in favor of tangential ones like Leandro.

If Leandro is central to our decision making as a school board member, as my opponent Monika Johnson-Hostler says it is, perhaps she can point to the number of times that the case has been discussed at length during the pandemic.

Asking the NC General Assembly for more money or increase funding for our schools while increasing the tax burden of our citizens will not improve school performance. History has shown us that. We need to improve in-person instruction. As a school board member, my goal is focusing on how to improve school performance. Among the factors that school board members can control, the quality of teachers and administrators are key. For example, I would use the county supplement to award significant salary increases to teachers and administrators that have a record of superior performance. It will take time to develop a workable plan, but it can be done. Our children deserve better.