Although the NC Legislature receives a passing grade regarding state tax reform, they receive an “F” in their budget allocation for public school education. Their treatment in several areas of concern is completely and inexcusably despicable and irresponsible. Let’s just go through a couple of the so-called improvements this legislature passed for public school education.
They touted that over $300 million more has been invested in public education than last year. A 4 percent increase. That increase however, came about because of an increase in the student population. The allocation per pupil actually went down from last year and has steadily been decreasing for the past five years. Teachers as well have not received any pay increases over the past several years. We are losing teachers to neighboring states due to noncompetitive salaries. Our best teachers, mentors, and classroom leaders are leaving to seek employment elsewhere. Along with that, teacher assistant funding has been severely cut from our classrooms.
The legislature boasts about passing major education reforms, resulting in the strengthening of student literacy and graduation rates. How is that done with the lack of teacher assistants and instructional support in the classroom? How is that done with the increase of the student/teacher ratio in the classroom? How is that done with additional funding removed from public schools to support a questionable voucher system? How is that done when additional funding is removed from public schools and put in the hands of a loosely regulated charter school program?
Every year more and more emphasis and money is being put on charter school programs as well as private and religious school alternatives.
Our legislature is killing the public school initiatives that for so many years, teachers, administrators, parents and business partners dedicated themselves to achieve academic excellence in their communities.
Both the state house and senate are acting on the behalf of special interest groups in terms of educating our children. Alternative education certainly has its place in North Carolina, but not at the expense of our traditional public schools. I urge this board and parents of public school children to contact their state representatives and voice their displeasure of the current trend and treatment of the public school system.
It’s your child that is entitled to a quality environment and the best resources needed to achieve the highest level of success educationally and beyond.
And one related side item: I would also be curious to know the percentage of legislators that send their children to traditional public schools, just for the record.
Bob Silver is chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee for the Lincoln County Board of Education.