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Misplaced Priorities

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The momentum for improving the salaries of North Carolina's public school teachers, which had been building slowly but steadily in recent months, is beginning to wane. This is due, in large part, to our state legislators' and governor's misplaced priorities. The citizens of North Carolina should be very concerned, not only because it shows bad faith toward our teachers but because it demonstrates a continued disregard for improving our state's less than stellar K-12 school system. Our legislators and governor simply do not understand, or do not want to understand, that a world class public school system is critical to the future success of North Carolina. Right now, the message that our political leaders are sending us is that they are perfectly happy with mediocrity. Additionally, they are either confused or deceived about the relationship between business/industry and education. Neither can exist without the other, and it is absolutely ludicrous to try and recruit high paying businesses to North Carolina while our educational system shows no signs of significant progress and no intention of improving.

It is disheartening at best to think that North Carolina will spend $10 million on vouchers so that a few thousand students might attend private schools, rather than invest this money to retain and recruit high quality teachers. Something is drastically wrong with this logic, and if the people of this state don't send a clear message on this issue in November then we may as well accept our continued fate as a second-rate state.

The governor and his Republican friends are proud of their cuts in personal and corporate income taxes - a very questionable move during a time when the economy is clearly improving. Unfortunately, they have failed to read the tea leaves. Voters, in general, are not averse to spending more money if the spending is worthwhile. This was best exemplified by the citizens of Wake County who supported an $810 million bond referendum to build schools and improve education in general. You see, it's not the hard working citizens of North Carolina who fail to put the state's priorities in order - it's their politicians.

We need good leadership in North Carolina - the kind that looks to the future and demonstrates a viable vision for the future of our state. We need leaders who are less concerned about their political futures and more concerned about the people. We need leaders who understand that teachers are critical to the success of our students.

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