Public Schools First NC pans “brutal cuts” to K-12

The good folks at Public Schools First NC have issued a scathing review of the budget deal:

Public Schools First NC urges reconsideration of brutal cuts to public education
Proposed budget fails students and families while undermining North Carolina’s economic foundation

Raleigh, NC—July 22, 2013—Public Schools First NC is disappointed by the General Assembly’s aggressive attack against public education in its proposed biennial budget. By syphoning public dollars away for private school vouchers, slashing funds for teaching assistants, eliminating teacher professionalism and increasing class size, the budget strikes at the heart of proven strategies that lead to strong schools; adequate funding, small class sizes, and experienced educators. “This assault on North Carolina’s long-standing tradition of excellence in public education is no way to make history or lead our state forward,” said Yevonne Brannon, Chair, Public Schools First NC. “The de-funding of public education and privatization of our public schools is in violation of our state constitution and a direct attack on our state’s economic viability. We will lose high quality teachers and fail to attract new business as a result of these harsh policies.”

The proposed school voucher program was never debated in the Senate, and if launched, will grow exponentially. Private and religious schools that accept taxpayer-funded vouchers will not be held to the same standards of accountability as public schools, nor will they have to admit all applicants—creating an unequal playing field for students and uncertainty for taxpayers. Across the nation, school voucher experiments have failed to improve academic success. This is a veiled attempt to create two separate and unequal school systems with tax dollars.

The Senate’s teacher tenure plan never had a floor debate in either chamber, nor was it vetted in a House committee. Eliminating teacher tenure and drastically cutting teaching assistants effectively dismantles the teaching profession in North Carolina. Our state’s already low teacher salaries (48th in national rankings), would now be coupled with a lack of job security, no pay for graduate degrees, severe cuts to teacher assistants, larger class sizes and no meaningful salary increases in the biennium. This creates a climate that discourages new teaching talent and encourages current teachers to leave the profession or the state of North Carolina.

The proposed budget erodes the foundation of support for the nearly 1.5 million children served by our public schools. Public Schools First NC is proud of North Carolina’s long-standing tradition of excellence in public education and the legacy that has created a foundation for economic growth for all NC citizens.

Attempts to privatize public education threaten economic prosperity and equity for all students. Major new policy initiatives deserve open public debate and should not be negotiated behind closed doors. This proposed budget unnecessarily cuts support for a generation of children who will suffer unless the General Assembly rejects this failing budget. North Carolina needs strong schools to attract employers and create jobs. Public Schools First NC implores the General Assembly to reject this proposed budget and work to keep North Carolina’s public schools first in our nation, not last. The proposed budget will condemn North Carolina to a new and undesirable standing in the landscape of public education.

3 Comments

  1. Vicki Caraway

    July 23, 2013 at 8:59 am

    It is amazing that, historically, this state’s lawmakers, both state and local, feel the need to try to right the problems with the economy by breaking the backs of public education, on all levels, from Smart Start through the community college levels. If we do not find a way to support public education, we will suffer drastic consequences in the future. Our children are not ready for college. They must spend precious time and financial and resources completing remedial courses, because of below college-level Math, Reading, and English skills.
    How will our children be enabled to meet the demands of the job market, when they cannot read, spell, write a sentence, perform mathematics, or engage in a conversation? We are already seeing the results of too much to teach, and not enough good teachers to do that. Teachers with a Master’s degree can earn much more than the average teacher’s salary in the public sector. Experienced teachers have no incentive to remain in the classroom, because the job is becoming impossible. The focus is statistics-end-of-course results, retention rates, graduation statistics, etc. Numbers, not actual education, has become the focus.
    Teachers’ aides provide students with one-to-one assistance which cannot otherwise be given, when a teacher is trying to manage a classroom of 30+ students. The students suffer for this trend. Those who have economic means can utilize charter schools, private schools, home schooling programs. That means that the best and brightest are being educated in a different setting, which further creates disparities in private and public education.
    Much attention has been given to learner facilitation, learning styles, and interactive methods of instruction. How is a teacher to do this with the pressures of larger classroom sizes, and no help?
    Thank you,
    Vicki Caraway, RN, MSN, CNE

  2. Steve

    July 23, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I currently live in Alpharetta, GA. For some time, we have discussed moving to the Charlotte area in order to be closer to friends, family and a variety of other reason. After reading these constant horror stories of what the North Carolina politicians and power brokers are doing to the state (and not JUST the school system), we have decided to revaluate our thinking. We have a 5 year old, and while the school system in Georgia is not perfect, there seems to be smart growth, funding and some excellent public schools in our area. I was extremely excited to move back to my home state, but we cannot afford 12 years of private school, so we are stepping back from North Carolina and reconsidering our options. Such a shame.

  3. Scholar237

    July 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Public education is vital for our society and NC. I think the State legislators needs to rethink or reconsider their decisions and its impact. A couple of college students from Davidson College have started a blog this summer: http://sites.davidson.edu/educationscholars/blog/ . It’s worth the read.