Archived Opinion

Schools aren’t on their knees begging yet, but …

Photo by Arnielee - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Photo by Arnielee - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

So this is what it’s come to.

We had just adjourned a meeting of the Haywood Community College Foundation Board. As we began shuffling papers and packing up, one member said she had something to say but wanted to make sure the official meeting was over. In other words, the request would be a purely personal ask and not part of our official meeting. The ask?

“Can y’all do anything to help crowd source a computer teacher for one of Haywood County’s elementary schools?” I’m paraphrasing, but that was it.

We’ve been reporting for some time about the  funding challenges among our local school systems , but who could have imagined that the great education state of North Carolina — with our proud university and community college systems, with a history of once being a leading Southern state for public education — would be reduced to this.

As our local school systems struggle, the state legislature is continuing its efforts to dismantle our public schools across the state. Both houses of the legislature have passed a bill that would offer school vouchers to families of any income to send their children to private and parochial schools. The state Office of Management and Budget estimates the bill could take an additional $200 million away from public schools and hit rural school systems particularly hard. With a supermajority now in both houses, the GOP-led legislature is almost sure to override the promised veto of this bill by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Oh, and guess what? While state political leaders are writing laws about what can and can’t be taught regarding critical race theory and sexuality in our public school, they continue to support testing measures and other bureaucratic litmus tests for measuring achievement at our public schools. Meanwhile, the teachers and administrators and students at most of those private schools are not subjected to these standards and mandates. So private schools — some attended only by the very wealthy — will get our tax money that could be going to pay for that teacher in a Haywood County elementary school but be free from most of those culture war mandates legislators seem intent on passing.

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I fear for public education under our current political leadership.


Anyone who travels by air and lives in Western North Carolina has likely come to appreciate the little gem that is the Asheville Regional Airport, especially compared to almost any other airport in the country. No achingly long security lines, no arriving three hours before departure, no headache-inducing hassles with parking. Well, if you’ve traveled lately, then you know that the airport — like much in our region — is growing and things are changing.

A recent press release from the airport tells us that the Asheville Airport served 1.8 million customers in 2022 and is third busiest in the state. It’s adding 600 additional parking spaces and will now shuttle passengers from long-term parking areas. The new recommendation is to arrive two hours before departure.

Growth is inevitable, growth is often good. But damn, I hate to see this little airport grow up and become as harried and painful as most other regional hubs. It will be a loss for all of us.


In North Carolina, it took a state law passed two years ago to allow adults to walk the streets with alcoholic drinks in their hands — albeit only in certain areas.

Sylva was one of the first towns in the state to approve one of those “social districts,” which allow people of legal drinking age to walk the sidewalks with beverages in their hands and visit stores and other retail merchants who think it’s OK for patrons to shop while imbibing. Waynesville will consider a similar measure in a few weeks after holding a public hearing this past Tuesday.

With all this hullabaloo about carrying beer around in a cup, one of my co-workers assessed the situation this way: why does it take so much to make it legal to carry a beer around when we’ve made it so easy to carry something much more dangerous — guns — almost anywhere?

Crazy country indeed.


As an editor, I’ve always tried to encourage journalists to be creative as writers. Sometimes formulaic news writing is best, but other times one should try to tell a story with as much color and descriptive language as you can get into it. If I do say so myself, right now this newspaper has some fantastic writers.

In case you missed it, here’s a line from Cory Vaillancourt’s recent story on the last whistle blowing at the Canton mill: “After five minutes of silence, the town’s faith community joined in with a tribute of its own — church bells chimed a hundred fifteen times, for each year the mill had been open.”

I’m a Gordon Lightfoot fanatic, so I recognized Cory’s homage to the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and one of its best lines: “The church bell chimed ‘til it rang twenty-nine times, for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Love it.

(Scott McLeod is the publisher and editor of The Smoky Mountain News. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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