In a recent guest commentary Senator Davis attacked Ben Utley for an editorial Mr. Utley wrote presenting “facts” about the educational budget recently passed by the NC legislature. Senator Davis says Mr. Utley “hurled facts by the wayside” in an “apparent attempt to demagogue for political gain.” Reviewing Mr. Utley’s editorial there were at least nine separate factual figures presented in the editorial, however, Senator Davis gave not a single example of any of this specific information being wrong. Senator Davis does, however, present some of his own “facts.” He states that the Democratic Party has driven North Carolina to the bottom in national graduation rate rankings. Let’s look at some detailed numbers about those graduation rates.
According to the State Board of Education the "North Carolina's public high schools graduate students at a higher rate than the nation overall and showed the second highest improvement in the graduation rate since 1998 among all states.” The graduation rate reported in 2001 was 63%, but it has now improved to 72.8% above the national average of 71.7%. “North Carolina’s graduation rate tied for 25th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., marking the first time that the state’s position has moved above the national average on the annual ranking.” If Senator Davis is interested in minority students, he might like to know that “North Carolina’s graduation rate for African American female students was the best in the nation, 79.5%. The state’s graduation rate for African American students overall was third highest in the nation at 72.3 percent." North Carolina has a much better graduation rate than any of our Southern neighbors. Does Senator Davis tell the truth when he tries to tell his constitutes that North Carolina has been driven "to the bottom in national graduation rate rankings?"
At a recent public forum in Macon County Senator Davis repeatedly stated (even when specifically questioned on the truthfulness of his statement) that public education funds were only cut by Y2 of one percent when in fact they were cut by $459 million, which is 5.79% from the previous budget. He says he is taking a stand for students, teachers and better results. He is apparently planning to help students and teachers by cutting funding for valuable programs like More at Four, the teacher mentoring program, cutting funds for staff development, and totally eliminating funding for the Teacher Academy and the valuable Teaching Fellows program.
The very basis of our democracy is that citizens can govern themselves by debating on the basis oftruthful evidence. When our public officials cloud the public's ability to discern the truth by giving false or misleading information, the foundation of democratic government is shaken.
Ed Morris, MD, PhD — Franklin, N.C.