Undermining one of society's great equalizers
Public education ended up being a big loser in the state budget. Republicans cut half a BILLION dollars in spending on public education, to which state Superintendent June Atkinson had this to say:
“For the first time in my career of more than 30 years in public education, I am truly worried about students in our care." -- June Atkinson, 7/22/13
Writing for NC Policy Watch, Lindsay Wagoner asks if this is "the beginning of the end of public education in North Carolina?"
The 2013-15 biennial budget introduces a raft of spending cuts to public schools that will result in no raises for teachers, larger class sizes, fewer teacher assistants, little support for instructional supplies or professional development, and what could amount to the dismantling of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program. Teachers can also say goodbye to tenure and supplemental pay for advanced degrees.
As public education tries to provide high quality educational services for all of its students in the face of these severe cuts, lawmakers have simultaneously introduced a ‘way out’ for those who can take advantage: school vouchers.
Sound bad? It is bad.
The shortage in public education funding for 2014-15 amounts to $500,000,000 less than our state allocated five years ago - nowhere near enough to keep up with the need beyond 2013.
The General Assembly's new voucher scheme will only make matters worse. Its budget sets aside $10 million - expected to grow by year two of the program to $40 million - of public money to go to private, even for-profit or religious schools.
That troubles North Carolina’s new Principal of the Year, Dale Cole, who told NC Policy Watch that, "Educating all of our students is a collective responsibility of the public, and monies collected from the public should go to public schools."
If public money going toward private profit sounds to you like something the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would support, you'd be right:
The national push for school voucher programs has been linked to ALEC, which is an acronym for the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Center for Media and Democracy reports, “the transformation of public education — from an institution that serves the public into one that serves private for-profit interests — has been in progress for decades, thanks in large part to ALEC.”
Read Lindsay Wagoner's article at NC Policy Watch for more details about all that our immoral state legislature sacrificed in its immoral budget. Here's a quick rundown:
- Class sizes expanded
- Teaching assistants fired
- Teacher pay cut - [related: How long would it take a NC teacher to earn what McDonald's manager makes?]
- "Teaching Fellows" program eliminated for good
- Pre-K funding cut by as many as 10,000 seats
- No money for textbooks
Top 10 things NCGA cares about more than public education
In response to the end of this legislative season and in the face of massive cuts to public education, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) published on its Facebook page a list of the Top 10 Things the General Assembly Values More than Public Education:
1. Provides a $41,000 tax break to people earning over $1 million per year.
2. Cutting taxes by over $600 million annually focusing on those who make over $250,000 annually while raising taxes on average teachers.
3. Continuing a tax break on yacht sales while requiring teachers to spend more out of their pocket for school supplies.
4. Allowing guns on school grounds.
5. Funding opportunities for unlicensed, underprepared novices to begin teaching with little to no support while discontinuing pay increases for educators who seek masters degrees.
6. Usurping local control of local assets, such as taking a major airport from a major city
7. Suppressing the vote by passing restrictive voter identification programs, limiting voting hours, early voting, eliminating same day registration, and discouraging voter registration of students.
8. Allowing charter schools to expand grade levels without having to seek approval from the State Board of Education.
9. Funding private schools with little-to-no accountability measures in place to protect students and taxpayer funds.
10. Requiring 7th grade teachers to discuss sensitive and scientifically discredited abortion issues with students.
NCAE's "All Call" for educators and parents to attend the last Moral Monday on July 29
Educators are making a major push for the last Moral Monday in Raleigh.
Watch this video "call to action" by NCAE, and join us and them at Moral Monday on July 29th: