The folks on Right-wing Avenue like to tell us that all is well in North Carolina’s K-12 education system after the last few years of budget cuts.
Well, actually, that’s not true; they like to tell us that everything is terrible and that we need to privatize and “voucherize” the whole thing, but that the cuts they’ve advocated and imposed over the last few years have had nothing to do with any of the problems.
Well, here’s the truth: Things were not great before the cuts. The state was making marked but uneven progress and needed to devote a lot more resources to education — especially to underfunded schools and at-risk kids — but there was a plan and some hope.
Now, after years of cuts, the picture is darker. Yes, some encouraging signs of progress can stil be found, but one has to recognize that these things take time; the test score increases of rerecent years are almost certainly the result of investments and improvements (things like Smart Start and Pre-K) that were made years ago.
And while teachers and administrators have been able to muddle through and patch things together in recent years as they’ve endured big cuts, this will only be possible for so long. Eventually, the cuts will take their toll.
To see some concrete examples of the kind of negative impact on core K-12 functions that recent cuts have had, check out this morning’s NC Policy Watch report by journalist Lucy Hood. The piece is entitled “A veritable graveyard of education budget cuts” and it documents, among other things, the way state lawmakers have devastated the state’s text book operation and increased class sizes and workloads for teachers, counselors and other specialists. It is not a pretty picture.
And it is not going to get any prettier soon unless state leaders abandon the far right anti-government, anti-tax, pro-privaitzation approach that has dominated their actions of recent years.