Rep. Neal Jackson: More local control needed on school calendar

Raleigh likes to sink their claws into every aspect of our lives.  They even go as far as determining how many buses your community “needs” for transporting kids each school day.  (That’s a big reason your kids are out at the stop before sunrise and on the bus for hours each day.).  Moore County’s only resident state House memberNeal Jackson — always seems to be on the lookout for ways to transfer power away from Raleigh and closer to the people.  

Jackson, a rookie in Raleigh, is taking on the state’s tourism industry as well as state senate president pro ten Phil Berger’s cabal  to put control of the state’s public school calendar in the hands of local leaders:

[…] “One of my principal beliefs is government works best when it is operated closest to the home,” said Jackson. “The flexibility with the school calendar bill moves the decision of school start and finish dates to the local schools and parents where I believe it belongs.”

Almost twenty years ago, local school boards determined the start and end dates of public schools in the state. When the state was fully Democrat-controlled in 2004, legislation passed requiring schools to open no earlier than August 25 and close no later than June 10.

State Board of Education members, school superintendents, and local school boards opposed the calendar change, but tourism lobbying influenced legislators more at the time.

Since 2012, the law has changed school start dates to no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and no later than the Friday closest to June 11.

Last year, Moore county school board members sent letters to government officials and House and Senate educational committees asking them to rescind the 2004 law. The letter stated that the local board was responsible for ensuring the best education possible and that in 2024 the school calendar would be based on educational needs, not tourism.

Leaders in dozens of districts have tried to change the law repeatedly over the years citing that low-income students in their districts suffer disproportionately from summer learning loss.These students could benefit from a modified school calendar with shorter breaks throughout the year, according to school officials.

District leaders also say that students and teachers would be better served with the first semester ending before the holiday break in December for exam scheduling.

Jackson was joined as a sponsor on House Bill 51 by District 70 Rep. Brian Biggs (R- Trinity), District 90 Rep. Sarah Stevens (R-Mount Airy), and Rep. Donnie Loftis (R-Gaston).

This bill as filed would affect Randolph County Schools, Asheboro City Schools, and three districts in Surry County: Surry County Schools and Mount Airy and Elkin city school districts, Moore County and Gaston County schools.

School calendar flexibility bills were run in 2017, 2019, and 2021, but were never taken up in the Senate.[…]

Senator Berger and his team are regularly flush with cash from tourism and other service industry interests.  That money has done a lot of talking, and has helped kill this idea in the cradle.
I had always assumed local control was an important GOP principle.  But, as we’ve seen since the onset of the 2010 “conservative revolution,”  lobbyist cash always trumps principle and the wishes of the folks back home.
If you like representative Jackson’s idea, let senator Berger know how you feel.  Talk to your legislators about them getting on board with this legislation — expanding it, if needed, to your neck of the woods.