Friday, May 27, 2011

NC State Senate Budget Puts NC Education in "Race to the Bottom"

This week, the North Carolina Senate released its version of the state biannual budget, and Senate Leader Phil Berger seemed to take it as a "bragging point" that they had actually decided spend more on education than the NC House. He especially pointed out their effort to reduce class sizes for grades 1-3, but apparently, that measure seems to be a ruse to deflect attention to what the real damage to education his budget will do.

Real Damage of NC Senate Budget

  • Overall budget cuts will shave $500 dollars off per student spending state wide, bringing North Carolina closer to the bottom of per student expenditures in the nation
  • Budget calls for adding 1,100 teacher jobs in grades 1-3, but it 
    • eliminates 1 in 5 assistant principal jobs,
    • all teacher assistant jobs grades 1-3
    • cuts non-teaching jobs (secretaries, custodians, etc.) by 15%, 
    • cuts support staff (guidance counselors, media specialists) by 5%  
    • combined with discretionary cuts (those cuts where the state sends the money to school systems and then asks for it back)15,000 to 18,000 school employees across the state will lose their jobs.
  • Learn and Earn and Virtual School cut by $6 million
  • NC Science Olympiad funding eliminated
  • North Carolina Science and Technology Center funding eliminated
  • 30 technology related positions at the state department of instruction eliminated
  • Funding for North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching eliminated
  • Funding for High School Teaching Cadet program eliminated (a program to get high school students interested in teaching as a career)
  • $12.5 million cut from teaching training, from an already non-existent budget
  • Funding for NC Teacher Academy (entity that provides teachers with high quality professional development)
  • $13 million of drop out prevention grants eliminated
  • Funding for teacher Professional Standards Commission eliminated
  • Merit pay plan but not funded next year, but when funded will give teachers a 2-3% pay raise based on performance (that performance has yet to be defined and plan created)
  • Funding eliminated for any new North Carolina Teaching Fellows scholarships (a successful scholarship program to recruit and get high school graduates to become teachers)
The real damage to public education in North Carolina is in the details of this budget. Thanks to Phil Berger and his colleagues in the state Senate, these cuts should push North Carolina back a long way educationally. Corporations looking to move to North Carolina to set up shop, might want to take heed, because our state is clearly in the "Race to the Bottom" with budgets like this one.

Source: Public School Forum of North Carolina

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