• 32°

Other Voices: Legislators should listen to teachers

From an editorial in The News & Observer:

How many teachers does it take for a legislature to learn? …

The quality of a school and the success of its students are not only a function of money. There also must be inspiration, experience and dedication. But without adequate funding, schools run short not only of their tangible needs, but of these vital intangibles as well. Inspiration gives way to frustration, experience shrinks as teacher turnover rises and dedication is eclipsed by demoralization.

Across North Carolina, teachers have resisted those negative turns, but after years of budget austerity and policy changes that have stung and belittled teachers, they have had enough. Like teachers in other Southern states where school funding has been squeezed to allow for bigger tax cuts, North Carolina’s teachers are fed up and showing up. ….

By now the numbers are familiar:

• When adjusted for inflation, North Carolina’s average teacher pay is 9.4 percent less than it was in 2009.

• North Carolina teacher pay ranks 37th in the nation and is $9,600 below the national average.

• Per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, is 12 percent below the pre-recession level and ranks 39th nationally.

• There are fewer teachers per student than in 2008 and schools have lost nearly 7,500 teacher assistants due to state budget cuts.

• Teachers have lost longevity pay, pay for advanced degrees and protection from arbitrary dismissal.

• As wealthier counties increase local teacher pay supplements to offset losses in state funding, poorer counties are increasingly unable to attract or retain teachers. Some classes are staffed by substitutes for the entire school year.

• Textbook funding is down by more than half. Some books are outdated and held together by tape. Teachers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on school supplies.

These shortages are made all the more reprehensible by the state’s growing capacity to do more as the national and state economies have recovered. Instead of adequate education funding, the legislature has chosen the easy, but ultimately costly, path of sharply cutting taxes in a way that primarily benefits wealthy individuals and profitable corporations, both of which are enjoying a similar windfall from federal tax cuts.

Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, was in Raleigh Tuesday to give a talk entitled: “Can state lawmakers break their most dangerous policy addiction?” Namely, a craving for tax cuts. …

“You can see that over time as people felt the impact (of tax cuts) in their communities, they started to see through that storyline and recognized they that they had to reverse course,” Leachman said in an interview.

North Carolina teachers and parents are seeing through that storyline too.

Comments

Business

‘Believe me, they’ll be fresh’: Patterson Farm welcomes strawberry crop

Local

City appoints more members to boards, commissions, with 9 seats left to be filled

News

Virtual play groups the new norm at Smart Start

Local

City meets in closed session to consult with attorney on two ongoing litigation cases

Education

Summit takes art out of the classroom, into the student’s home

Education

Education briefs: Gene Haas Foundation donates $12,500 to RCCC

Business

County’s restaurant grant program dishes out funding to eight local eateries

High School

High school football: Yow out as South head coach

Education

Shoutouts

Local

City moves forward on greenway extension, traffic signal upgrades

Business

State broadband survey could help fund local infrastructure

Education

Happy Roots adds to programming with Bic recycling program

Education

RCCC small business center partners 53 Ideas Pitch Competition

Nation/World

Sheriff: Deputy fatally shot Black man while serving warrant

Nation/World

Garland announces sweeping police probe after Floyd verdict

BREAKING NEWS

District attorney won’t bring charges against former Salisbury officer depicted in K-9 video

Coronavirus

Cooper plans to lift gathering, distancing limits by June 1

Crime

Convicted sex offender charged with having child pornography

Crime

Rowan County woman faces drug crimes for gas station incident

Crime

Blotter: Thousands of dollars in lumber taken from Newsome Road house

Local

Locals react to Chauvin verdict, reflect on work still to do

Business

With remote expansion, outsource provider FCR looks to become an ‘exceptional part’ of Rowan community

Local

City expects $1.5 million surplus in current budget, ability to raise some wages for police, public works

Education

Enochville Elementary to host farewell event May 1