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Conservatives admit that spending more on education works

For years, North Carolina conservatives have insisted that it’s a myth that spending more on public programs like education improves outcomes. You’ve heard the speech about the supposed folly of “throwing money at problems” so many times you can probably repeat it in your sleep. The Locke Foundation, for instance, has put out scads of articles about how unimportant class size is to improving K-12 education.

Now, fast forward to the current debate in the state Senate over the 2012 budget — what is the top Republican idea for improving performance in in the early elementary grades? That’s right, hiring more teachers to reduce class size!

In other words, after decades of double-talk about how cutting waste was all we needed to do to improve public programs, conservative leaders are now on record in support of the simple and common sense concept that reducing the workload on the professionals we hire to educate our kids (and presumably, to guard our prisoners and build our roads and clean our water) works.

This is actually very good news and could, in an honest world, provide  one very small step toward finding common ground over the budget. Welcome to the cause, Senator.

The only problem, of course, is that at the same time the R’s are admitting the importance of reducing the demands on teachers so they can do a better job, they’re slashing funding and increasing workloads for virtually every other public employee.

Which begs the question: If making life somewhat easier for teachers in grades 1-3 is a key to improving the results they generate, why doesn’t the same principle apply for teachers in grades 4-12, school nurses and custodians, university professors, prison guards, mental health workers, and all other state employees?

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