Direction, Not Intention: Education

At a friend’s suggestion, I watched a recent sermon by Andy Stanley (successful on his own and the son of respected minister Charles Stanley). He made a good point regarding the way we live our lives: Direction, not intention, determines destination.

That same thinking applies to our North Carolina debate on education.

A decade ago in 2008, while the Democrats were running all of state government they increased state funding of education – a lot. Then the economic crash revealed, despite their good intentions, they’d headed in the wrong direction. Those same Democrats then found themselves facing a $2.5 billion budget deficit and another $2.5 billion in unemployment insurance debt to the feds – a $5 billion hole.

The result, for public education, was havoc. In 2009-10, the Democrats, still running state government, had to slash state spending.They eliminated thousands of teaching positions, furloughed educators, and froze pay. Between 2008 and 2010, education spending dropped by 9.1% and teacher pay plummeted from 28thin the country to 41st.

It still wasn’t enough. So, they added a $1 billion sale tax hike on all workers including teachers.

Good intentions were not enough.

These days, all we hear about from Democrats is how great things were in 2008. The two years that followed have vanished. We are left with something like the last frames from the movie, Thelma and Louise.

Under Republicans, since 2012, education spending has moved steadily in the right direction. Five years of teacher pay increases, a $5000 jump in starting salaries to attract young teachers, and average teacher pay over $53,700. Just as important, at the same time, Republicans also put aside $5 billion in reserves – money that can be spent to protect public education from the next economic downturn.

With good intentions, the Democrats decided to spend more and didn’t worry about the consequences of a recession.

The Republicans took a different direction. They increased spending on public schools too – but they also took steps to protect education if the economy hits another rough patch.

As Andy Stanley said, the right direction, not good intentions, determines destination. And the difference between Republican and Democrats, on strengthening public education, is an example.

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