What happens when they take away the funding?

Schools close. That’s what happens.

At least, that’s what happened in Person County. Facing a $3 million dollar budget cut, the Person County School Board voted to close North Elementary, a beloved community school serving a Black and Brown community in Roxboro. Our local members showed up with Public School Strong to ask the board to consider less drastic options, but in the end, only one school board member (and a Down Home member!) dissented from this vote. Starting next year, North Elementary students will have to start at a different school. 

Meanwhile, in nearby Alamance County, our members continue to fight for decent investment into their local schools. Last fall, the reopening of the schools in the county was delayed two full weeks due to massive amounts of toxic mold found in the buildings. Alamance County chapter member Theresa Draughn recently said: “The mold problems are ten or fifteen years in the making. There was issues with mold for years prior to this incident.” 

Theresa describes a situation where parents and teachers had been trying to alert their elected leaders about the mold issue in the school for years, but were being ignored by people in power until it reached a crisis point. Over thirty schools tested positive for the mold, grinding the whole system to a halt and putting parents and students in a lurch.

This is what happens when our lawmakers refuse to fully fund our schools. What is happening in Person and Alamance Counties is representative of the decimation public education is facing statewide if we don’t organize to stop the bleeding. These counties are canary’s in the coal mine.

North Carolina was once considered a national leader in public education, but due to years of divestment, we now rank near last in the funding of our public schools. And it shows. 

Many of us at Down Home are parents or grandparents and every day we drop our kids off at schools that are experiencing teacher shortages, book shortages, and collapsing infrastructure. As poor and working-class people, we know how to make a budget– and when we budget for our own families, we never leave our children behind. We demand that our government make our children a priority, just like we do. 

The growing network of Down Home chapters and Public School Strong (PSS) teams across the state are helping to position working-class people as a strong political force ready to change this disastrous trend. We believe that through local organizing and the upcoming elections, we are about to force North Carolina to do an about-face. 

That’s why Down Home and Public School Strong members across the state are running for school boards and county commissions and why our local chapters and PSS teams will make school board endorsements for the 2024 elections. It’s also why many of our local chapters, including in Person and Alamance, are looking at running education and childcare-related campaigns. We need bold, fearless leadership who will demand that we put our kids and their futures first. 

Get involved: Public School Strong is growing all across the state, active now in over 62 counties! This means that we we are probably where you are 🙂 Want to plug in and start organizing to support public education? Come out to our next training on Monday, April 22 at 7 PM (don’t worry- it’s online!).

Plug in in Person: Live in Person County? Get involved with our local organizing by contacting[email protected]

⭐Organize in Alamance: Are you in Mebane, Graham, Burlington, Saxpahaw? Wherever you are in Alamance County, we want you! Contact Ebony at [email protected] to get involved in our local work. 

Right: Some Down Homies out canvassing in Alamance County