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In case you missed them, check out this morning’s lead editorials in Raleigh’s News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer — both of which tell it like it is on the matter of our state leaders’ ongoing assault on public education.

In “A basic math lesson for N.C. lawmakers,” the Observer puts it like this:

“Here’s what the Senate and House budget plan, set for a vote this week, does to N.C. schools:

It cuts education spending by almost $500 million in the next two years, including a decrease in net spending for K-12 public schools.

It invites bigger and more chaotic classrooms by removing the cap on some classroom sizes and cutting funding for elementary school teacher assistants. Read More

School vouchersIn 2012, many of the politicians who now control the North Carolina General Assembly ran on pledges of “fiscal conservatism” and reducing government spending. Indeed, many prominent members of the current majority continue to style themselves as “common-sense fiscal conservatives.”

There’s a disappointing lack of common sense, however, in the proposed “Opportunity Scholarships” program included in the current House budget. The program would provide school vouchers—up to $4,200 each—for K-12 students to attend private schools instead of traditional public schools. The current budget proposal appropriates $10 million for the program in the first year, and jumps to $40 million for the second. In a time of huge cuts to our public school system, there is no common sense in taking much needed resources from our students and teachers and asking them again to somehow do more with less.

Instead of being fiscally conservative, this voucher scheme is fiscally irresponsible, since it will cost the state money every year after the first. In fact, the larger the program becomes, the more money it will lose for North Carolinians. Read More

The next time someone asks you how it is that North Carolina’s elected leaders are undermining the public education in our state (not to mention the basics of democratic governance), direct them to this morning’s lead story on the main NC Policy Watch site by Education Reporter, Lindsay Wagner. Here’s the lead:

For two years now, Arapahoe Charter School in Pamlico County has been fighting the State Board of Education for approval to expand from a K-8 school to a K-12 school. After the Board denied its request, Arapahoe appealed, and the case remains pending before the state Office of Administrative Hearings.

Rather than wait for that process to play out, however, Arapahoe’s director, Tom McCarthy, tried a different approach. Read More

Members of the House Education Committee will wait until next week to vote on the “Opportunity Scholarship Act”, but State Superintendent June Atkinson left them with something to ponder at Tuesday’s hearing.

Dr. Atkinson told lawmakers if public schools were going to be judged on an A-F grading scale, then private schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers should face the same scrutiny.

“Each school receiving taxpayers dollars should be graded in the same manner in order for parents to have the necessary information to make wise decisions,” said Dr. Atkinson.”If a grading scale of A-F is good for public schools, then it should be good enough for private schools.” Read More

The good people at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children just released this statement on the Berger budget plan:

Senate budget short-changes NC’s children
Budget would cut funding for early education and K-12 schools and remove cap on class size

RALEIGH – Late Sunday night, Senate budget writers released their 2014-15 budget proposal, which includes deep cuts to education, early care and infant mortality prevention.

“This budget continues the ongoing deterioration of our public school system,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “If the Senate is serious about improving student outcomes, then underfunding schools and removing the cap on class size are the last things it should do.”

In addition to deep cuts in K-12 education, the Senate budget appears to cut the Smart Start early education program by 42%.[1] Read More