K-12 cuts are really starting to take their toll

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.



  1. Sundance

    November 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

    An excerpt from “What’s at Stake?” in NC

    How do we know that today’s Republican Party has our best interests at heart? The proof is in the pudding. Let’s take a closer look at education as an example.

    During the past two years, the Republican-led-legislature has decimated education on all levels; attacking and firing teachers, crowding classrooms, appointing right-wing, rich cronies to boards, de-funding scholarship and teacher development programs while their leaders, House Speaker Tom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger, called the state’s most successful early childhood programs, “baby-sitting services” in the face of decades of peer-reviewed evidence that the early-childhood programs are a win-win.

    But that’s only the beginning, they have plans to privatize the entire system over time.

    They have made way for more charter schools already and plan to promote digital for-profit, on-line charters as well as introducing vouchers; which like charter schools, suck tax money from the state’s K-12 public system–funds the public schools desperately need to maintain quality and rapidly growing enrollment.

    The vouchers are a give away to corporate education companies which provide unproven learning materials and teaching methods. Jed Bush anyone?… His people are Berger’s leading consultants along with ALEC’s national education committee which NC legislators have seats upon. They are leading the privatization bull shit.

    A reasonable person might presume that legislators would turn to the state’s venerable institutions of higher education for guidance in reforming K-12, but there is no profit in that.

    For instance, future teachers in NC will receive their certification through a cottage industry started approximately ten years ago. An industry created by allies of ALEC; a scam that lacks any appropriate accreditation except accolades from think tanks they created!

    I call it the “Give us the dough and we certify you to teach enterprise.”

    There is no reason to doubt that the private, for-profit–yes, for-profit religious schools in NC that will be funded by vouchers–will, like their cohorts in Georgia, teach flat-earth creationism.

    Do the corporate leaders care? Not now, the voucher and charter school initiatives please their voting evangelical constituency while making them fortunes.

    Many of these schools are for whites only. Nuff said.

  2. david esmay

    November 15, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Well said.

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