Commentary

See all the areas in which conservatives have slashed public education in NC

Be sure to check out the latest Progressive Voices essay over on the main NC Policy Watch site. As education policy analyst Kris Nordstrom demonstrates in “As new school year commences, shortage of basic supplies demonstrates legislature’s failure to invest,” North Carolina’s chronic underinvestment in a simple and basic aspect of public education — school supplies — has reached absurd levels.

“Per-student funding for supplies and materials is less than half of the amount provided in the 2009-10 school year. In current-dollar terms, the state provided funding of $68 per student in the 2009-10 school year, compared to just $31 per student for this school year.

Even when North Carolina was spending $68 per student in school supplies, the funding level was far below the levels recommended by national school funding experts. For example, a 2016 expert panel in Maryland recommended funding supplies and materials at $100 per-student for elementary schools and $115 per student at the middle and high school levels, with additional amounts for at-risk students and students with limited English proficiency. A Washington, DC study recommended providing $225 per student for supplies in middle and high schools.”

But here’s the real kicker: funding for supplies is just one of many vital areas in which investment has fallen since conservatives took over the General Assembly. Again, here’s Nordstrom:

“When adjusting for enrollment and inflation, school funding has been cut in the following areas since leadership of the General Assembly switched hands in 2010 (a time period in which the state was already struggling to find resources as a result of the Great Recession):

  • classroom teachers,
  • instructional support personnel (counselors, nurses, librarians, etc.),
  • school building administrators (principals and assistant principals),
  • teacher assistants,
  • transportation,
  • low wealth schools,
  • disadvantaged students,
  • central office,
  • limited English proficiency,
  • academically gifted,
  • small counties,
  • driver training, and
  • school technology.

Funding streams for teacher professional development and mentoring of beginning teachers have been eliminated completely.”

Show this list to your conservative state lawmaker or local right-wing think tanker the next time they blather on about how the current General Assembly has increased public investments in education.

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