'not over' Manning tells UNCP audience
Court Judge Howard Manning was given a standing ovation from an audience
of about 100 graduate students at UNC Pembroke following an hour-long
speech on the Leandro case.
Judge Manning, who
is presiding over the nine-year-old school funding equity case, promised
to use all the court's powers to ensure that every child in North Carolina
has the opportunity to receive a "sound basic education,"
as prescribed by the state constitution.
check was the old answer (to mandating school equity), and wasteful
spending was the old way," Manning said. "Leadro means that
when you get out of high school, and you get a job at Dupont, you won't
have to take remedial reading courses to do the work."
It was a rare public
appearance for Judge Manning, who discussed the case at a daylong educational
leadership conference entitled, "Equity and Closing the Achievement
Gap." The conference was sponsored by UNCP's Master of School Administration
Judge Manning said
school fund equity is not about money.
"It's not about
the buildings. It's about delivering sound basic education to kids,"
he said. "You, the people in this room are the most important people
in the process."
you don't do it, the courts will lock you up," Manning warned.
"We've got that authority, and I am not afraid to use it."
Parts of Manning's
rulings are being appealed. The state is also studying its options in
preparation for presenting their findings to the court.
Judge Manning said
the state Supreme Court found that the state must provide a sound basic
education to prepare students "for a complex and rapidly changing
society." The state should supply students with sufficient academic
and vocational skills to be successful at whatever they chose to do
after high school.
our students must perform at grade level at minimum," he said.
One important ruling
that Judge Manning handed down in 2000 was that all children are not
starting out in school on a level playing field. He ruled it is the
state's responsibility to get them ready for school with pre-kindergarten
kids do not have a chance," he said. "They are not socialized,
some are not even potty trained. Their right to a sound basic education
is damaged. They've got to have pre-k."
Judge Manning said
he has heard many complaints about the court's role in education in
'It's a political question. The courts have no business in it,'"
he said. "I've heard that many times."
nuts and told me I was crazy," he said following his ruling that
gave the state one year to examine its programs and report back to the
court. "They basically told me to go to hell. They said they are
educators and politicians, and they didn't have to do what some judge
from Wake County told them to do."
"I didn't get
mad. I got even," he said. "I stepped on some toes, and I
will do it again. This case is not over."
The Leandro case
is named after a student in Hoke County, who went on to Duke University
and is 24 years old today. The case still has some life in it, and it
appears Judge Manning has plenty of energy left.
Judge Manning also
praised the state's ABCs program for putting accountability into a system
that cannot be judged without objective standards.
Robeson and Cumberland
counties joined in the suit, but the court case focused on Hoke County
schools because it is a small, manageable system. Judge Manning said
poverty is not unique to any place in North Carolina.
While in Hoke County,
the judge said he learned about UNC Pembroke.
I learned what a good school you have here," Manning said of UNC
leadership conference was given a legislative update from state Rep.
Doug Yongue, a career educator and co-chair of the House Appropriations
Committee on Education. Rep. Yongue spearheaded the move to get legislative
approval for have a school leadership graduate program at UNCP.
"This has been
a unique year with the 60-60 tie in the House between Republicans and
Democrats," Rep. Yongue said. "We are faced with a very tight
The Democrat said
his party would like to solve the budget crunch by raising "sin"
taxes on alcohol and cigarettes and installing a lottery. The Republicans
are not budging on any new taxes, he said.
to make some drastic cuts, including a 5 percent increase in (UNC) tuition
and cutting positions from the public schools," Rep. Yongue said.
Despite the deadlock,
Yongue promised to "keep education on track" in North Carolina.
"We are at the praying stage," he said with the beginning
of a new fiscal year beginning July 1.
The conference was
organized by Dr. Ottis McNeill, coordinator for the MSA program, and
School of Education Professor Charles Jenkins.
- May 1994: School
boards from Hoke, Cumberland, Robeson, Halifax and Vance counties
sue the state claiming that children in their systems do not receive
the same educational opportunities as students in wealthier districts.
The suit takes the name of the lead plaintiff, Robb Leandro, a student
- April 1996: The
Court of Appeals dismisses the lawsuit, saying the state constitution
does not guarantee equity or quality in public schools.
- July 1997: The
state Supreme Court overturns the Court of Appeals and restores the
case. The Supreme Court rules that every child has a constitutional
right to a "sound, basic education."
- September 1999:
The trial begins with Superior Court with Judge Howard Manning Jr.
- Oct. 12, 2000:
Manning rules that the state system for school funding is adequate
and constitutional but leaves open the question of funding to poorer
- Oct. 26, 2000:
Manning rules that the state must provide pre-kindergarten programs
for 4-year-olds who are at risk for academic failure.
- March 2001: Manning
orders the state to come up with a plan to better serve students at
risk for academic failure. He gives the state a year to come up with
a plan to better address the problem.
- April 2002: Manning
rules that the responsibility of providing equal education to all
students lies with the state. He orders the state to "remedy
the Constitutional deficiency for those children who are not being
provided the basic educational services" of competent, well-trained
teachers, good principals and sufficient funding.
- July 2002: The
state appeals Manning's ruling to the state Supreme Court, challenging
all parts of Manning's decisions.
- Aug. 15, 2002:
Manning gives the state 10 days to formulate a plan to explain how
it will provide children in Hoke County a sound, basic education.
- Aug. 22, 2002:
The state Board of Education sends an assistance team to Hoke County
to comply with Manning's Aug. 15 order.
- Jan. 13, 2003:
State lawyers challenge a court ruling that said students who perform
poorly on achievement tests are not on track to get a sound, basic
education. The lawyers ask the appeals court to overturn Manning's
April 2002 order.
to University Newswire