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McInnis’ controversial teaching bill to be studied further

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday referred a local legislator’s controversial bill to increase the number of courses taught by University of North Carolina System professors to the legislature’s research division for further study.

Senate Bill 593, sponsored by Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25, and co-sponsored by Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, originally required UNC System professors to teach eight courses per year. When the bill came up Tuesday in the Senate’s education committee, it had a starkly lower requirement than originally proposed. The Senate’s Education Committee referred it to the Legislative Research Commission, where it will become the basis for a study bill.

The bill proposed a different requirement for each subject and college campus. For example, professors in STEM fields — science, technology engineering and math — were proposed to teach four courses per year, which wasn’t an increase compared to the current amount. It proposed five courses per year for professors of non STEM fields at UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.

In response to the committee’s action on his bill, McInnis said his goal was to start a conversation about the issue.

“My goal has always been to bring awareness to the problem and start the long process of effecting change,” McInnis said. “I have welcomed feedback from professors, students, parents and UNC system officials since the bill was filed. I look forward to continuing that dialogue and to working with the Legislative Research Commission and the UNC Board of Governors to make improvements to this proposal and ensure our students receive the high-quality education they deserve.”

Many teachers in the UNC System expressed opposition to the bill, saying it would detract from important research and add more work onto an already busy schedule.

The North Carolina General Assembly’s crossover deadline is today. The deadline requires a bill to have passed at least one body of the legislature to continue on in the current session. McInnis’ bill being referred to the research commission makes it unlikely it will make the deadline.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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