RALEIGH, N.C. (November 10, 2021) — To ensure that our system of public schools offers an equal opportunity to every young North Carolinian, especially those in our highest-need communities, with a sound basic education, as is mandated in our state constitution and affirmed in the landmark state Supreme Court decision, Leandro v. the State of North Carolina (1997 and 2004), today State Superior Court Judge David Lee ordered more than $1.7 billion in urgently needed investments for North Carolina’s system of public education.

“Today’s historic order provides long needed and critical investments for our students and our schools —  and ultimately, for our communities and our economy,” said Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of NC. “This includes research-based investments in human resources, greater access to educational opportunities, and improvements to the accountability and finance systems that impact education every day.  The people of North Carolina made a commitment to a sound basic education for each student by way of our state’s constitution, and these investments ensure that our schools and our students have what they need to reach their potential.”

These investments, for which North Carolina has more than enough unspent surplus revenue already in hand to fund, will target key areas that directly benefit students, especially those who have the greatest needs and experience the most significant barriers to learning opportunities. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing the pipeline and compensation of diverse, well-prepared teachers and principals who can meet the needs of all students;
  • Developing a school finance system that provides adequate, equitable and efficient resources for all students, in particular for those with the greatest need;
  • Providing targeted funding to increase the number of school instructional support personnel in our schools;
  • Fortifying a system of early education that provides access to high-quality prekindergarten and early childhood learning opportunities for all young North Carolinians; and 
  • Aligning high school to postsecondary and career expectations for all students by expanding funding for innovative curricular options.

“This Court cannot permit the State to continue failing to effectuate the right to a sound basic education guaranteed to the people of North Carolina, nor can it indefinitely wait for the State to act,” said State Superior Court Judge Lee in his order, signed today.  “Seventeen years have passed since Leandro II and, in that time, more than an entire generation of children have been denied a fundamental constitutional right.”

Today marks an important milestone for public education in North Carolina. Investing in our students and our schools is also investing in North Carolina’s communities — and our economy.


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