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Ahead of oral arguments in Leandro today and iterating our favorite question of “who are you” a bit, I  walked around a room with a diverse group of North Carolinians and asked, “Who are we?”

We value education. We are urban and rural. We are at a crossroads. We have resources. We have talent.

We are diverse. We value some but not all. We need to really take on race.

We are stuck.

You can hear their answers.

Leandro is a decades-long court case in North Carolina. It began in 1994 when five counties sued the state and the State Board of Education. They argued that their students were not receiving a sufficient education. The lawsuit established our state constitutional right to access a sound, basic education. Here we are in 2022, and it still goes on.

Today we will hear oral arguments that one way or another will frame what education means to North Carolina moving forward.

This year state appropriations for K-12 total $11.2 billion. Is it enough? This case is still about sufficiency, but it is about more now and we expect to hear arguments about two important questions:

  • whether the previous Leandro decisions apply to the entire state public school system or a more limited number of districts; and
  • whether a ruling by the court that results in the expenditure of money on public schools is binding on the state’s legislature.

And yet when I talk to students, a sound, basic education doesn’t sound like the kind of education that will get them where they need to go in the 21st century.

Educators ask what would it look like to redesign school so that all students have access to an extraordinary education.

Today, two educators — Donnell Cannon and Jenny O’Meara — will release a podcast, The Hummingbirds Stories, that asks North Carolina and the nation to wonder about school redesign, to think big and bold.

Regardless of what happens in Leandro, they ask you to join them in being hummingbirds and pushing forward for kids classroom by classroom and school by school. Stay tuned at for the release of the Hummingbird Stories later today.

Here you can find our coverage of Leandro over the years. Here you can find our need to know about Leandro. Here is a great need to know by WUNC. Rupen will be at the N.C. Supreme Court today. And you can listen in to the oral arguments here.

The N.C. State Board of Education meets today.

I’ll be at Piedmont Community College, learning from President Pamela Senegal about all of the ways community colleges contribute to the economic impact of our communities. Follow me on Twitter @Mebane_Rash.


These are the sources EdNC checks every day: The New York Times, The 74, Education Week, The NC Tribune, The Insider, The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, WUNC, WFAE, Brookings, Education Commission of the States, and DPI’s News. A cross section of diverse sources are checked weekly and monthly. If you have an article you think needs to be included, email [email protected].

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.

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