• 39°

The record on education

Phil Kirk, chairman emeritus of the State Board of Education, says the media has distorted the records of Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led General Assembly on several issues, including how much the state allocated for public education.
Indeed, the party in power points to figures showing education spending rising by almost 4 percent, while others point to a comparison that includes inflation and student enrollment and shows a 2 percent cut.
But most supporters of the schools don’t need the media or a chairman emeritus to tell them that recent legislative action has done little to help teachers meet the rising demands of educating our state’s children.
Last week the Southern Education Foundation released a study saying that, for the first time, more than half of the children in public schools in the South and West are from low-income families. According to Kids Count, the percentage of N.C. school children on free and reduced price lunch grew from 48.4 percent in 2007-08 to 56 percent in 2011-12. In Rowan, it went from 49.8 percent to 61.9 percent.
Out of 1.4 million students in the state, more than 803,000 are from low-income families. What did legislators concerned about the plight of these children do during the last legislative session? Did they decrease class size? No, they increased it. Did they provide more support staff? No, they discontinued funding for thousands of teaching assistants.
What did lawmakers do to help hundreds of thousands of children from low-income families? They added a voucher program so up to 2,500 children can attend private school.
This is not to say that the General Assembly and McCrory completely neglected public education. But in the rush to reform — a new grading system to rate schools, the end of teacher tenure, more money for technology, changes in testing — they flubbed on a couple of major points.
One is the voucher issue. Even Kirk takes issue with that. Siphoning much-needed funds away from public schools to send children to private schools, however small the number, is a big step in the wrong direction.
And lawmakers shot themselves and their governor in the foot by refusing to give teachers any kind of across-the-board raise. Teachers have received one pay increase in the last six years — a whopping 1.2 percent. This year the legislature funded merit raises for 25 percent of them. What does that say to the other three-fourths of our teaching corps? Too bad?
North Carolina’s average teacher salary plummeted down in state rankings as the General Assembly, under Democratic leadership, dealt with the recession. Republicans had the power to do something about that this year, but they chose not to. Legislators may have increased the allocation for schools, but they dissed the people at the head of the class. That’s what people will remember.

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week

News

North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander to retire

Education

UNC School of the Arts may go for online learning due to COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

Greensboro site to administer 3,000 daily vaccine doses starting March 10

Nation/World

$1.9 billion relief bill closer to passage in House

Nation/World

Lady Gaga’s dogs recovered safely

Coronavirus

Advisers OK single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

Local

Post wins 18 N.C. Press Association Awards

Education

Cooper vetoes bill that would force K-12 schools to reopen

Local

Lanning named Spencer’s fire chief

Crime

Blotter: Feb. 26

Crime

Salisbury, Kannapolis men charged with soliciting sexual acts

News

Racial bias ‘deeply entrenched’ in report critical of Apex Police Department

Nation/World

US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

Elections

City council again dismisses idea of adding new member, focus now on recommendation to delay elections

Business

‘Let’s make some money:’ Loosened restrictions praised by bar owners, baseball team

High School

Salisbury High bucks historical trend in dominant shutout of West Rowan

Enochville

Garage declared total loss after Enochville fire

Crime

Cooper, N.C. prison officials agree to release 3,500 inmates

Coronavirus

Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan, six for the week

Crime

Blotter: Man brandishes AR-15, runs over motorcycle at Rockwell-area gas station

Crime

Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor

Crime

Road rage incident results in assault charges

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed