Teachers tell GOP: get your facts straight

photoDozens of teachers and public education supporters donned red garb and gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol this morning to set the record straight about cuts to public education in North Carolina.

Bob Etheridge, former Congressman and former State Superintendent for Public Instruction, hosted the press conference, which was organized by Public Schools First NC, the North Carolina Association of Educators and Progress NC.

Etheridge countered GOP lawmakers’ assertions made during the past few weeks that public education received more funding than ever before and that the education budget requires no cuts to the classroom.

“That’s a cut!” shouted supporters in response to Etheridge’s list of items students and teachers will have to do without beginning this fall, including the significant loss of teacher assistant positions, no raises for teachers and cuts to instructional supplies.

Last week, Rep. Tim Moffitt posted on his website a lengthy diatribe disputing the notion that public education was underfunded by lawmakers during the last legislative session.

According to Moffitt, North Carolina is spending more on education than ever before in the state’s history, and when one accounts for the benefits packages that teachers receive, their salary actually equates to nearly $60k/year on average, just for working ten months out of the year.

Some say Moffitt’s numbers are a misrepresentation of the facts.

Funding for K-12 education in the 2013-15 biennial budget falls $180 million short of the amount that is needed to provide the same service levels as last year, according to the Office of State Budget and Management.

Funding for teacher assistants was cut by $120 million, and the impact is being seen statewide as those jobs are eliminated in local school districts.

Alan Trogdon, a retired math teacher who spent 33 years in Wake County classrooms, wore red to the press conference today.

“If I were in a room with Governor McCrory, I would tell him that every student in this state deserves the kind of educational opportunities that we have historically been able to deliver. But this budget doesn’t even come close to allowing us to continue on that path,” said Trogdon.

Etheridge told NC Policy Watch that it was sad that the press conference was even necessary. “Our schools are doing way better than they are given credit for. Our teachers are working hard, and I’m tired of hearing them trashed,” said Etheridge.

“When we punish our teachers,” said Etheridge, “what we are really doing is punishing our children, who are our future.”

15 Comments

  1. Tim Peck

    August 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    No teacher’s assistants are cut. Only unfilled teacher’s assistant’s POSITIONS.

    Spending increases for digital learning tools to compensate for reductions in school supplies spending.

    Oh well.

  2. JD

    August 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Nice Red Shirts (was there not a history teacher in the crowd?)…last time democrats wore Red Shirts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Shirts_(Southern_United_States)

  3. gregflynn

    August 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Approximately 3,850 teacher assistant positions will be cut because there will be $120 million less to pay for them. They are positions that were “filled” last year but won’t be “filled” this year because there won’t be money to pay for them. There is no equivalency between full-time permanent staff positions that may remain unfilled and teacher assistant positions that are typically filled annually for 10 months at a time like temporary full-time positions. While you are trying to parse terms you clearly don’t understand about 100,000 children will be immediately affected by these cuts.

  4. Frances Jenkins

    August 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Flex spending??? Greg just tells it any way.

  5. dFX

    August 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Digital tools cannot replace real people.
    Digital tools cannot replace all supplies.

    Try making a physical product (diorama, 3D model, mobile, sculpture, weaving, etc.) with digital tools.

    Tactile physical products are still important for learning and for some learners the best way to learn.

    Further, digital tools still need “content”. Will there be the money to purchase it?
    Will EVERY class get digital tools or just “select” ones (read CC, CTE)?

    The arts will get hard.
    Theater: will they get scripts? digital tools can’t be use to teach makeup
    Dance: will they get music downloads?
    Music: will they be able to download scores — and really do want the marching band carrying some type of tablet on their instrument?
    Visual Art: while yes there is digital art will the schools pay for the software and apps required? And what of the art that isn’t a “pretty picture” but a tapestry, a sculpture, a weaving, a piece of pottery, a piece of jewelry, etc.?

    Carpentry: really digital tools will allow students to learn to measure, cut, assemble furniture or even houses (as did the students in my district this year) while mastering the many tools involved?

    Home Econ. — I prefer they learn to really cook not play cook on digital tools

    And on and on.

    Some things and some learning must still be done by hand. The supplies for that have been cut;.

  6. Alan

    August 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Actually, WCPSS has many TA’s on terminating contracts that won’t be getting renewed. That is a cut however you view it.

    Not sure where Tim gets his ‘facts’.

  7. jacob Jacobs

    August 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    dfx – Don’t forget science, PE, masonry, welding, ROTC, auto mechanics, and so forth. Digital learning is only a supplement learning resource for many, many classes!!

  8. Alex

    August 16, 2013 at 7:31 am

    I’m trying to figure out the math on 3850 assistants costing $120 million. Wouldn’t that be roughly $31,000 per position ? Sounds a bit high for assistants !

  9. gregflynn

    August 16, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Most people with business experience would know that funding for employees includes employer contributions, benefits and other associated overhead in addition to direct employee salary.

  10. Alan

    August 16, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Well said Greg. Anyone with 1/2 a brain would know that…

  11. Melinda

    August 16, 2013 at 9:12 am

    JD – perhaps the Republican Party should rethink its own association with the color red.

  12. LayintheSmakDown

    August 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I am still amazed by these phantom “cuts” that are publicized here…and evidently the teachers fell for it too which makes me sad for the future of education. A 4.8% increase in funding in this economic downturn is a VERY rich increase. Unfortunately the educrats are not used to having to be efficient and effective and managing in tight times. I guess the growing pains are going to be hard in these times of not throwing money at them just to keep them quiet.

  13. Alan

    August 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    LayintheSmakDown (or simply Doogie for short) clearly has an issue with facts. It would appear that Doogie & Team Civitas have all the ‘facts’ they need, and everyone else on the planet is obviously wrong.

    PS. You could have picked a better nickname to post, “LayintheSmakDown” clearly indicates you’re a troll, nothing more.

  14. david esmay

    August 17, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Alex, Doog, now Tim, and the NC GOTP, proving that NC is the land that smart forgot.

  15. Alex

    August 19, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Exactly my point greg and Alan ! In all of the rhetoric about teachers, we forget about the added cost of fringe benefits, and particularly the accrued pension and healthcare cost down the road. So when we throw out the $35,000 teacher salary figure , most people forget for each position we are actually talking over $50,000 per year which is a big difference.