A quick look at the education budget

EdbudgetReaders should anticipate a more in-depth look at the education portion of the budget this week from NC Policy Watch; if you’re tired of scouring Twitter for the details, then here’s a snapshot with some of the most notable points.

School vouchers: ‘Opportunity Scholarships’ to begin in year two of the budget, or for the 2014-15 academic year. $10 million set aside for $4,200 vouchers for students to use at private schools. Household income for those students cannot exceed 133% of the federal poverty level, at least for the first year.

Lawmakers will also decide this week on a separate bill that would give students with disabilities $3,000 per semester to use for private schooling.

Teacher tenure: teachers would become temporary employees with this budget. Instead of having ‘career status’, also known as tenure, teachers will have contracts that can be renewed based on performance measures.

Teacher pay: no raises for teachers, who have only seen a 1% pay increase in the past five years. Supplemental pay for teachers who have master’s degrees is gone, with the exception of those whose jobs require advanced degrees. A scheme for merit pay is included, with highly performing teachers getting bonuses in the second year.

Pink slips? Funding for teaching assistants was reduced by 21%. That cut will affect teachers, too, since many local districts also use that pot of money to fund their positions. And as we lose teachers, the cap on class sizes is lifted – so even more crowded classrooms to look forward to.

Pre-K: eligibility guidelines were not changed with this budget, and 2,500 slots were added. But since 5,000 slots are expiring this month, all this does is reduce the loss of pre-K slots by 2,500.

Charter schools: Language is included in the budget that calls for the State Board of Education to study virtual charter schools, including application requirements, enrollment growth and funding allocations.

The House budget proposal that included a half million dollars for PEFNC to develop charter schools in rural areas appears to have not moved forward.

Teaching fellows: The budget includes $12 million over the two year period for Teach for America, while the NC Teaching Fellows program is phased out.

Higher education: tuition will go up by 12.3 percent at UNC schools and community college students will also see increased fees.


  1. Cynthia

    July 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    This is pathetic! The students and teachers of NC deserve better. Another year with no pay raises, loss of master level supplemental pay, no teacher assistants, no job security and larger class sizes. What an incentive for dedicated teachers to remain in education. How does this group of legislators sleep at night knowing that they are systematically destroying public education in this state?

  2. Brent

    July 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    The message from NC leadership is loud and clear as it concerns education in this state. Teachers are essentially being told that they will have larger classes, have an increased work load, etc. However, in addition to these new measures, teachers will have a sixth consecutive year of frozen pay. I feel sorry for the teacher who started work in 2008 who by the end of 2014 will have not seen any real change in their pay, even with stellar performance reviews. Their thanks for this? Elimination of tenure, more kids to teach, more BS to put up with. For some reason, leadership feels that this is the way to improve teacher performance and student achievement. PLEASE explain this to me and the 6-year teacher who is stuck on 1st year pay.

  3. Karen

    July 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I absolutely do not know where NC legislators are trying to take education. As I was growing up, teaching was considered one of the most respected, dedicated, and revered jobs within my family. Now, each year they are becoming less respected and certainly less supported through salaries, supplements, teaching supplies, and good ole appreciation. How can we continue to encourage high school graduates to go into teaching? Why should I encourage my own children to go into education? I am a retired educator of 30 years and my daughter is soon beginning her 11th year. I have 2 neices, a nephew and sister-in-law (retired).My daughter, neices, and nephew could make a lot more money at other jobs, but they teach because they love the profession. They love their students and work hard to present the curriculum to them. After going “X” number of years and receiving NO raise, lack of supplies and NOW the possibility of losing tenure, losing their master pay, losing assistants, and losing $$ which will be used for school vouchers, it begins to gnaw on the moral of being a teacher.
    Please reconsider all these changes and provide the money that is needed to offer quality education. Being #51 out of the #51 state salaries should make you ashame . . . ignoring all the above.

  4. Sandra Beaudry

    July 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    After having taught for 31 years I can say that North Carolina public schools are not perfect. However, these changes will take us back more than 20 years. Leadership in Raleigh has gutted education – not imporved it. Within in 5-8 years we will have a major teacher shortage again. There is no incentive to hire and retain good teachers and no incentive for a teachers to continue educating themselves. I am have concerns about tenure because it is impossible to remove horrible teachers. However, this will also hurt keeping good teachers – there should have been some middle ground. Now our brightest teachers will leave to seek higher paying employment outside of the public schools and education in general because they have no incentive to stay. I knew the governor was not a friend of education but I thought we had some other politicians who had better judgement – guess not! Election time will come.

  5. Chris

    July 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Are you saying that an elementary school teacher with a masters is losing the extra pay for having the masters?

  6. Zach

    July 22, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I just finished my first year of teaching and I canno imagine doing anything else…I love my job…but my love is blatantly vein taken advantage of by our state leaders…who else besides teachers would sign up for a job where you new you would be under appreciated, that the likelihood of advancement or promotion is slim to none, and that after year of service to others you would see your pay increase by 1% overall…even with the so called “performance bonus” it’s not as if they are handing out 3,000 dollar bonuses to a teacher for good performance…it is just a sad reflection on how much value is put on the impact teachers have on students lives in and especially out I the classroom

  7. Zach

    July 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    By the way I’m typing this on my phone, which is why there are a few mistakes in the writing

  8. Jared

    July 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I was trying to find the part of the budget that specified an elimination of class size caps. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough….?

  9. M

    July 23, 2013 at 7:26 am

    It’s simple – in their eyes teaching is unskilled, students are unaffected by their class sizes so long as the curriculum is strong, and that can be passed along to someone with minimal training. Because there are so many waiting in the wings to take these jobs at minimum pay, you don’t need career teachers to take this easy job with summers off and you definitely shouldn’t let them stick around long enough to collect a pension. You can tell if they’re doing this job which is still important, so we’ll test the kids to make sure they’re learning and if the teacher isn’t cutting it even if they’re willing to accept minimum pay – good bye (which actually amounts to a convenient way to beat career teachers over the head since they seem genuinely uninterested in real student learning outcomes evidenced by their withdrawal of funding – but it really is all about the kids you see).

    By the way – I AM a teacher – but these are the arguments I hear almost day in and day out.

  10. b. skip

    July 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Fundamentalists/Teapublicans/Religious Zealots want the public education system gone. It’s part of the agenda. One of the ways they will do this is to make it so difficult for the employees in said system to do their jobs or make a living doing it that they give up because they essentially will have no choice. Tax “relief” for the rich (as if the people getting it need it) is partly paid for by destruction of the education system for the middle class and poor. In the end it equals a cheaper workforce and more resource for the top earners. By top earners I mean rich people. I mean those that already have practically everything to begin with but simply desire MORE of it. While they’re at it they’ll probably start working on shoe horning religion into thoughtful education here in NC. I’m sure they’ll get around to it soon. It’s part of how they’re working to turn this country into a theocracy. For those of you who voted for McCrory thinking he wouldn’t be so bad, you were sadly mistaken and I don’t have words harsh enough to use on you.

  11. Rachel

    July 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

    The point you are missing is that our legislators DO NOT want or value teachers! They think on-line classes and a warm body will substitute. Teach For America provides cheap teachers for a few years, then they move on. Pearson Education (which profits from GEDs, their new PowerSource system, and National Boards) has established private schools in Kenya in which an unqualified person stands in a classroom and reads their script provided on an e-book. We are redundant in the eyes of our Republican legislators, and besides, we are generally considered “liberals” whom they despise anyway.

  12. Michelle Slentz

    July 23, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Unbelievable! Let’s trash public schools completely; what made America great – the public school system & the attitude that education was the way out of poverty. Respect for teachers, diligent students, hard working parents who wanted more for their children, and a can-do attitude have gone by the wayside. The more government intruded into policing education, the worse it has gotten. I retired because of the bureaucracy, though I loved teaching. The one thing I took with me when I retired were all the letters and notes from my students thanking me for being a demanding teacher, always being honest & respectful with them, and preparing them for higher education. I didn’t need congress to tell me how to do that!

  13. D

    July 23, 2013 at 11:02 am

    My financial future looks extremely dim! I am an educator in the North Carolina public school system, and I have two children in college in the UNC system. No pay raise for me but a 12.3% increase in tuition! What is a person to do? I am back in school at night working on a second career to supplement my income so that my children will not finish college with a huge debt hanging over their heads as they start their adult life. Depressing!!!

  14. Darlene

    July 23, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Is there nothing we as educators can do? It’s so frustrating to sit back and watch this all happen. Educators have no voice, no power! And you’re right, we are not valued, by anyone, really. It breaks my heart! Even though I LOVE teaching, I feel used and abused. Things keep getting worse every year, higher expectations, with less pay, resources & support. I want to see CHANGES FOR THE GOOD! Educators need help!

  15. Vicki Hartley

    July 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

    It will only get worse. A new push among conservatives is to roll back compulsory school laws: taking away “government control” over children and making parents “accountable” for their children’s education. The modern conservative only knows how to tear down, to dismantle.

  16. Jennifer Gerow

    July 23, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I am saddened and disgusted with the state legislators who are trying to pass this budget. It makes me regret moving here from Michigan to teach, and now I’m pretty much stuck. I hope the politicians will be satisfied with their decisions as public education churns out students without a proper education because the state refused to fund it. NC teachers are the lowest paid in the ENTIRE United States! That’s pathetic. And now they’re trying to take tenure and advanced degree pay. Repulsive.

  17. Jennifer Wilson

    July 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    There is something you can do. Go to ncleg.net and email email email… let them know how wrong they are. I am a teacher’s assistant and bus driver. We work as a team. I am also a member of the NCATA and have been voicing my concerns to them. They have replied. I encourage everyone to speak up. It’s not too late.

  18. Martha W.

    July 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Stop blaming Republicans? Last time I checked, things have been going downhill for the past several years and finger pointing does nothing to solve the problem.

    The state gov’t basically has us where they want us. Look at all that has been done to our profession. We can’t form a union. We can’t strike. We just take it. I know fantastic teachers who have left the profession for greener pastures and yes, they do exist. We all have the opportunity to do just that but we don’t because we love what we do and we know our kids depend on us.

    I don’t necessarily have an issue with teacher tenure. We have all taught with those teachers who are less than competent and don’t do their jobs. I just don’t want it tied to test scores, much less receive a “bonus” based on how well my kids do on a test when I have no say in who is in my class, the resources I have, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, this whole situation sickens me. But no one or nothing can make us feel any certain way unless we allow it. We are going to have to choose to dig deep and be creative. Our students are counting on us.

  19. Vilma

    July 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    This is absolutely deplorable!!!!!! It’s getting to the point where we will not be able to take care of our families. We will never measure up to other states, because education in NC and teachers in NC are not valued or respected. Last in the US!!!!! Good luck finding teachers to come and teach or having teachers stay. A teacher shortage is definitely on th we way. One the legislator did not forsee. Shame on you!!!!!

  20. Brenda Most

    July 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    If I have a signed contract, that is legally binding, and the legislature determines that professional status (tenure) is to be no more and teachers are to join the ranks of temporary workers in NC, then are they (legislators) not breaking the legally binding contract?

    Is this a loophole that we may be able to at least slow down this feeding frenzy on anything not on the private agenda of specific members Republican Party and the Governor?

  21. Suzy

    July 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I want to personally thank those of you that are teachers for the time and dedication you give to our children. My two boys had 3 wonderful, inspiring, remarkable teachers this past year. Unfortunately, as you all are saying here, all 3 of them were in danger of loosing their positions due to budget cuts and they were all 3 searching for other positions at other schools. Shame, shame, shame on our politicians!! These teachers deserve so much more than we are giving.

  22. Mary Anne

    July 23, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I trained at UNC-G many years ago. Am now teaching in Virginia and we are going through the same issues. It’s hard to understand how we can take on any more when the cuts are so deep. Moral continues to suffer and new requirements consume so much of our time.

    I’m sad to see that NC is suffering, takes me back to my roots and pride. Stand firm educators!

  23. Hypatia

    July 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    What could possible be the purpose of this type of legislation, other than to privatize K12 education? What a scary time we live in.

  24. Hypatia

    July 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Although, considering more education tends to mean more liberal, maybe North Carolina Republicans are just trying to stop school kids from growing up to be Democrats.

  25. […] benefits. The state is one of the 15 to have refused Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. A proposed education bill would slash teacher compensation, (already ranked among the lowest in the nation), eliminate […]

  26. Dorothy Davis

    July 25, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Instead of appropriating money for education and adequately paying teachers, let us spend 5 million dollars on a criminal’s defense. The situation is kill two cops with witnesses and plead not guilty and have a guilty verdict repealed. Consequence then is to cause another court case in order to get life instead of being on death row. This situation is happening time and again and is taking money away from tax papers who are earning a living to pay for nonsense! When are we citizens going to change this decadent society????Does one think education might help???? Zimmerman trial just cost taxpayers $33,000 just for sequestering the jury alone. How much more was spent for prosecution alone?? Education seems to be the answer. Those who don’t want to become educated, productive embers of society can choose or can find a live volcano for their home!

  27. Dorothy Davis

    July 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Money needs to be allocated in state and federal budgets to adequately fund teacher pay and to educate our youth for the ultimate good of society and our nation. Instead of appropriating money for education and adequately paying teachers, let US citizens spend $5 million on a criminal’s court defense. The situation in the cop killer case was that he killed two cops with witnesses and claimed that he was not guilty. The case was tried in NY and he was found guilty and sentenced to death. A guilty verdict was repealed. Consequently, this action caused another court case in order to get life sentence instead of being on death row. This situation is happening time and again and is taking money away from tax payers who are earning a living to pay for nonsense! When are we citizens going to change this decadent society???? Does one think education might help???? Yet, money is not allocated to adequately pay teachers! The Zimmerman trial just cost taxpayers $33,000 for sequestering the jury alone. How much more was spent for prosecution alone?? Education seems to be the answer. Yet, our representatives do not allocate money for public education. Instead, a $2,400 voucher is offered to students for a private school. How much voucher money is actually used and/or wasted? Reason needs to prevail! Those who don’t want to become educated, productive members of society can choose to become educated or can find a live volcano for their home! Read the article “Cop Killer” at Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/24/ronell-wilson-death-penal_n_3647987.html.

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