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As Clayton Henkel notes below, the General Assembly returns to Raleigh today to override the Governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills dealing with immigrant workers and drug testing of public benefits applicants.

In response, the good folks at Public School First NC released a statement this morning that highlights what lawmakers ought to be doing now that they’re back in the Capital City:

PUBLIC SCHOOLS FIRST NC URGES LEGISLATURE TO REINSTATE FUNDS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
Despite Promises of Job Growth, Teaching Positions Cut Across North Carolina

Raleigh, NC—September 3, 2013— As the General Assembly convenes for a special session, Public Schools First NC urges legislators to acknowledge the drastic budget impacts already, affecting public education and to use this opportunity to restore funding. The predicted consequences of these cuts—the loss of teacher and teacher assistant positions, increases to class size, inadequate instructional supplies, and the trimming of special programs—comes on the heels of promises by elected officials to promote job growth. Read More

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Today’s lead editorial in the Greensboro News & Record provides a civics lesson for conservative state House members trying to escape responsibility for the state’s declining commitment to public education:

“Stung by ‘outrageous claims’ that they cut school spending, N.C. House Republicans responded with a ‘fact sheet’ that blames cities and counties….

This is a dodge. In North Carolina, state funds cover the bulk of K-12 costs because the state constitution assigns responsibility to the legislature. Local governments are allowed to supplement state appropriations for school operating expenses but are not required to do so….

After terming the GOP claims a “shabby political strategy,” the editorial concludes this way:

“If Republican legislators want to shift that burden to local governments, they’ll have to rewrite the constitution.”

To which, all a body can say is: Don’t give these guys any ideas!

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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Education cutsIt’s actually pretty remarkable that we even need a study to confirm something so obvious (What’s next? “Study confirms that days get longer in the summer and shorter in the winter”??) but a new study by the Economic Policy Institute does confirm once again what anyone with any common sense has long understood — namely, that investing in public education pays big dividends for states.

Here are the key findings — to which we can only wish Gov. McCrory, Art Pope and the General Assembly would pay attention: Read More

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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.