The latest hearing, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, is part of the Leandro case, which began making its way through the courts in 1995.
The original case, presided over by Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr., determined that the state’s constitution requires all North Carolina students to receive a sound, basic education.
Twenty years later, Manning still holds hearings from time to time to check on the progress of North Carolina schools. After the state cut significant support from K-12 education, Manning last handed down a decision in 2011, mandating the state to provide prekindergarten education to any at-risk child who applies. The N.C. legislature appealed Manning’s decision, but the N.C. Court of Appeals upheld the order in 2012.
Last week’s hearing sought to ensure that students advancing to the next grade level are being adequately prepared after the state’s system for testing proficiency was changed.
Jason Langberg, supervising attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina, said the hearings are meant to hold lawmakers and education officials accountable.
“He (Manning) asks tough but important questions at the hearings. The hearings have produced some useful data for folks to have a better understanding of these issues,” Langberg said.
Langberg said improvements need to be made to K-12 education, but so far not many concrete changes have resulted from the hearings.
“Ultimately the biggest issue we have in our public schools right now is funding and resources,” he said.