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Education cutsThere’s so much spin coming out of the far right camp these days about North Carolina’s declining commitment to public education that you’d think the Loony Tunes Tasmanian Devil had developed their talking points. Or maybe it was David Copperfield or some other magician who specializes in making things disappear when you’re not watching.

Whichever the case, the whole thing would be downright laughable if it weren’t so sad and the cuts to the classroom weren’t so painful and unnecessary. After months of tearing down “government schools” and claiming they were “broken” and “failures” and “in need of competition from the private sector,” conservatives are suddenly falling all over themselves to profess their love for public schools and to claim that their plans for a radical education overhaul weren’t so radical after all.

As Chris Fitzsimon notes in today’s column: Read More

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As reported today in the Fayetteville Observer:

More than 100 Cumberland County teacher assistants have received notice they will not return to their schools when classes resume this month.

About 111 teacher assistants have been placed on a rehire list because of reductions in state funding, according to school officials.

The state budget reduced spending for teacher assistants by $120 million, or about 21 percent. More than 3,850 teacher assistant positions in grades two and three will be eliminated statewide.

The General Assembly cut funding for teacher assistants in second and third grade classrooms by 21% for the upcoming year.

While some school districts have been able to shuffle money around to save teacher assistant positions, Cumberland County, which is a rural district that receives low-wealth supplemental funding from the state for its schools, does not appear to be able to do the same.

 

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Check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File in which Chris debunks once and for all the absurd notion being advanced by conservative politicians and propagandists that because the state will spend more next year on education in absolute dollars that we have not cut education.

“The 2013-2014 base budget developed by OSBM under the direction of State Budget Director Art Pope was 11.731 billion for education at all levels, public schools, community college and the university system.

The total education budget approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McCrory was 11.472 billion—a $259 million cut. The budget for the second year cuts another 221.9 million from the base budget, for a total of $480 million slashed from what’s needed to keep education spending at the same level.

If you don’t adjust for inflation and enrollment, etc. you could argue that more is spent in real dollars, but that means less services, less spending per pupil, fewer teachers, fewer teacher assistants, larger classes—in other words BUDGET CUTS.

Schools have fewer resources with which to educate students thanks to the budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McCrory. That is simply beyond dispute.”

Read the entire piece by clicking here.

 

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NC House and Senate members spending their first full week back in their home districts will undoubtedly be talking up tax reform and efforts to spur economic growth over the seven-month session. But even as lawmakers tout their business-friendly agenda, Ran Coble with the NC Center for Public Policy Research says they will need to own up to another round of cuts made to public education:

“From the public schools you are taking almost 4,000 teaching assistants. There’s no raise for teachers,” explained Coble. “You’ve got cuts to the Department of Public Instruction, cuts to things that get people into the teaching profession, which I worry about long-term.”

Coble, who appeared on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon last weekend, notes the latest budget also cuts the UNC-system by another $66 million. While the community college system fared better, its students will see a $2.50 per credit hour increase in tuition.

To hear Coble’s take on the winners and losers of this legislative session, visit the Radio Interview section of the NC Policy Watch website where you can listen online or download a podcast of the extended interview.

For a closer look at the numbers from this legislative session, be sure to read Monday’s Fitzsimon File.

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On Friday of last week, the good people at Together NC delivered an open letter to Gov. McCrory, House Speaker Tillis, Senate President Pro Tem Berger and the other members of the General Assembly regarding the ongoing behind-closed-doors negotiations over the state budget. Here’s the opening:

“We are more than 100 North Carolina groups and thousands more North Carolinians who want to make North Carolina a better place. We aren’t a national organization and we don’t have significant resources to secure your vote; but what we do have is a commitment to our state and a belief that North Carolina can be the best place in the country to live, work and do business if we invest in our schools and communities.

As you negotiate a tax and budget plan this weekend, we urge you to reject the current proposals – they are bad for North Carolinians and bad for our economy. North Carolinians are proud of our state’s long tradition of coming together to invest in families, communities, and our state’s future. That’s why the people of North Carolina have asked for your leadership in identifying solutions to the state’s economic challenges that don’t undermine our neighborhood schools, world-class universities, and safe communities.

Cutting taxes for the rich and profitable corporations is not a job creation strategy and it won’t address our economic challenges. Instead we should be focusing on investments to support emerging research and technology, strengthen new industries, and train and educate our children and workforce for the jobs of the future….

Read the entire letter by clicking here.