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. Read More

trackingCuts-web-600Gaston County Schools, located just west of Charlotte, will cut 50 teacher assistant positions.

The Gaston Gazette reports that last year, the school system also cut 50 teacher assistant positions.

School officials are still trying to sort out how many of those 50 positions will be eliminated by way of attrition, and how many current TAs will receive pink slips.

Gaston County joins a growing list of school districts that have been forced to make difficult cuts as the 2013-14 school year approaches.

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trackingCuts-web-600The Alamance-Burlington school system announced last night that a $4.9 million budget reduction leaves school officials with the task of cutting more than 60 jobs and increasing class sizes by one student.

17 teaching positions, 35 teacher assistants, two assistant principals, three directors and four student-support psychologists will be eliminated. No layoffs will be required; all of those who were in these positions will have retired.

There will also be more than $1.6 million in cuts for class room supplies, technology and staff and teacher training.

Alamance-Burlington joins a growing list of school districts that have been forced to make difficult cuts as the 2013-14 school year approaches.

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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.


michael-ward-phdDr. Mike Ward, who served as state superintendent of Public Instruction from 1997 to 2004, warns in a Wednesday editorial in the News & Observer that “the nation will witness the backslide” of North Carolina following a series of legislative proposals that undercut public education:

‘How sad we were to move back to Raleigh last fall and find some legislative leaders committed to a sprint to the bottom. After being far more competitive, North Carolina now ranks 48th in per pupil expenditure and 46th in how well we reward our hard-working teachers. And some in the General Assembly appear poised to make it worse.

Here’s just a sample of the proposed policies that stand to hurt our public schools and our students:

1.) Massive cuts to school funding. This means thousands of lost teaching positions. It means crowded classrooms and the loss of teacher assistants in early elementary grades, even though research shows that smaller class sizes help students, especially struggling students.

2.) Vouchers. If you want to know where money to pay for teachers is going, one place to look is at the proposed voucher legislation. Proponents refer to them as “opportunity scholarships.” Vouchers are bad public policy, snatching millions of dollars away from public schools that desperately need them. We support the choice of private education, but taxpayers will foot the bill for some parents to send their children to private schools. Legislators backing these vouchers will tell you that the vouchers are for disadvantaged students, but the bulk of these vouchers will go to middle-income residents – and you’ll get to pay their children’s private school tuition. Vouchers are an expensive, divisive program with virtually no record of improving overall student performance. Read More