When this year’s NC budget bill was posted on Monday night, public education advocates immediately noticed some outrageous educational pork. The budget included $200,000 in taxpayer money for classroom supplies. The catch was the funds would only be available to teachers at schools in Senator Jeff Tarte’s District 41, one of the wealthier districts in Mecklenburg County:
The supplies were to be distributed through Donors Choose, a nonprofit organization that “connects teachers in high-need communities with donors who want to help.” North Carolina teachers know this organization quite well, as General Assembly budget cuts (including -55% to classroom supplies and materials since 2009-10) have forced many of them to rely on public donations to provide for classroom needs.
The budget move galled teachers because it unfairly prioritized schools based on geographic location rather than need. It also ruffled feathers because it was such an obvious attempt to gain votes in Tarte’s bid to win reelection in one of the most competitive Senate districts in the state.
On Tuesday, teachers took to social media to let Donors Choose know they were not happy:
On Wednesday, Donors Choose informed the public via Twitter that the organization had decided the budget provision was not consistent with its philosophy and that it would not participate in Senator Tarte’s pork barrel spending:
Unfortunately for Senator Tarte, this year’s budget bill was fast tracked by House and Senate GOP leaders in such a way as to avoid debate. That means the Donors Choose budget provision most likely cannot be amended.
Kudos to the teachers who reached out to Donors Choose to let them know about the shenanigans in North Carolina. Thanks due as well to Donors Choose for recognizing the inequity in distributing classroom supplies in this politically underhanded manner.