Art class in legislative office is lesson for lawmakers

Posted May 3

— In order to make the case for more education funding, students on Wednesday decided to bring the classroom to lawmakers.

During an art class held in the legislative office of Education Committee co-chair Sen. Chad Barefoot, students were asked to design something they would like to see in their schools.

Durham music teacher Jessica Tanner said the thing she would most like to see at her school is money.

“It’s been really terrifying,” Tanner said. “To know that your job is a chess piece in a game people are playing over funding in public education.”

At one point, Tanner worried she could lose her job as school administrators said they may have to lay off teachers in non-core areas to accommodate a provision in the 2016-17 state budget that put hard caps on class sizes in kindergarten through third grade.

Lawmakers last week passed House Bill 13 to relax those class size requirements, deciding instead to phase them in over a two-year period.

In a statement, Barefoot said lawmakers appreciate special classes.

“That is why we passed House Bill 13 and why we are committed to working on funding issues surrounding program enhancement teachers in the future,” he said.

Parent Elizabeth Lindquist, who believes House Bill 13 just postpones the problem instead of solving it, wants more than promises of funding. She said a better plan is to raise per pupil spending in North Carolina to meet funding levels in other states.

“If we don’t fix this now, as far as funding, then we are going to be in the same problem as we just were,” Lindquist said. “We are not going to be as competitive. My children may not be as competitive.”

Students, parents and teachers did not meet with Barefoot on Wednesday. Staff members said he was busy in meetings at the time.

The art class was organized by the Community Alliance for Public Education and the Durham Association of Educators.


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