Layoffs sweeping through school districts

Posted June 16, 2011

— With the school year over and the state budget passed, many teachers across the region have learned in recent days that they no longer have a job.

The $19.7 billion budget, which the Republican-led legislature passed Wednesday over Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto, includes discretionary cuts for school districts statewide. School administrators say the size of the needed cuts entail layoffs, including thousands of teachers and teaching assistants.

Critics of the budget predict as many as 13,000 jobs could be lost. Harnett County Schools, for example, has cut 88 jobs, most of them teaching assistants.

Jennifer Harvell Layoffs sweeping through school districts

"It's been really tough," Interim Superintendent Tom Frye said. "(Teaching assistants) are a key component of our instructional program."

Jennifer Harvell, an assistant at North Harnett Primary School, was called into her principal's office Monday and learned that she was among the layoffs.

"She was very emotional about it," Harvell said.

Both Frye and Harvell said they wished that lawmakers had voted to keep a temporary one-cent sales tax in place for another year to avoid many of the school cuts.

"I'm sure a lot of people haven't even missed that one-cent sales tax," Harvell said.

 The 33-year-old mother of three said the district is helping her and others find new jobs. Losing her job doesn't mean she's lost her passion, and she said she also plans to continue taking classes to achieve her childhood dream.

"(I want) to be a teacher," she said.


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  • superman Jun 20, 2011

    I would guess that a lot of people in this area who are unemployed with college degrees and experience. So dont play that dog and pony show of people need to be prepared. Thousands of college graduates are out of work. I dont think that in your lifetime or mine that we are going to see this economy get back to where it once was. Students should learn to cook burgers and flip them in high school. Thats where the jobs are and will continue that way in the future.

  • superman Jun 20, 2011

    Who cares if the students are "well equipped"? They will be standing in the unemployment line like the rest of us for years to come. The parents can show their support for the schools by volunteering their services to make up the shortage of paid staff. It is about time the parents supported the schools by the sweat and their money. For too long the taxpayers with no children have paid for the schools. Enough is enough. No more public schools. If you can afford an expensive house, drive a SUV, have cellphones, cable tv-- you can afford to pay for your childs education. I dont know you or your children and it is not my responsibility to pay for them.

  • lauraleigh Jun 17, 2011

    BIlzac - one final observation and then I'm going back to my real work: it seems to me that the philosophical basis of education and the curriculum standards are established by mugwumps up in ivory tower places like Princeton by "experts" who haven't been in a grade school classroom since they were students in one. Politicians only take their leads from these "experts."

    I've enjoyed conversing with you. It's obvious we're in agreement about so very much about preparing kids to become well-equipped and responsible citizens.

    Best wishes.

  • lauraleigh Jun 17, 2011

    BIlzac - I advocate personal mastery of fundamentals before dependence onhightech gadgets is fostered. Even in algebra, memorization of formulas is essential for basic problem-solving, in the real world, wouldn't you agree?

    And I also disagree about EOC/EOG issues. Those tests hit the lowest common denominator and not what a course or grade level ought to be achieving.

    Example: I harp about the abandonment of grammar in the curriculum. NOT parts of speech (POS). A brief POS unit in 9th grade is inadequate. Students will be critiqued on grammatical principles such as subject-verb or pronoun-antecedent agreement on the 10th grade writing test, but there isn't time to foster mastery of those issues in a basic POS unit; grammar needs to be TAUGHT, complete with verb conjugation, from the primary grades.

    Ditto mastery of those other fundamentals, like spelling, handwriting, reading... and math.

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Jun 17, 2011

    reel--as in keep going round and round in a circle as opposed to dealing with reality????
    GOLO member since September 8, 2009
    June 17, 2011 3:00 p.m.
    Ignore Report abuse

    REALITY is the 2 party system is destroying us. You can change it. One sheep at a time.

  • patrick85ed Jun 17, 2011

    The state could sell the Teachers Training facility in Ocracoke Island. It sits on PRIME waterfront real estate valued in the many millions of dollars.

  • josephlawrence43 Jun 17, 2011

    reel--as in keep going round and round in a circle as opposed to dealing with reality????

  • BIlzac Jun 17, 2011

    I might also mention, big business, who now has FAR, FAR too much to do with public education, has for a long time been telling us that what students lack is the aforementioned 21st Century Skills.

    Cooperative work, public speaking, putting together a reasonable argument, problem solving, debate, use of technology.

    These are all good skills.

    The problem is that most schools are still being threatened by EOC and EOG tests to the point that most focus is put there. Unfortunately, the approach is usually copius amounts of repetitive drill work. In the remaining time, teachers are pressed to work on things like these 21st skills, mostly because people like Bill Gates are telling our politicians that this is what we need to be doing.

  • BIlzac Jun 17, 2011

    lauraleigh, the issue of calculators and other technologies in the classroom is always a tricky one.

    At the lower levels, you wouldn't expect to see K-5 kids working on calculators - they should be learning number facts like we all did in order to build a web of knowledge of basic numerical relationships.

    But as you cross over into algebra, the emphasis becomes one of math applied. Algebra is really a revisiting of basic arithmetic, but now with unknowns in the form of variables. My experience has always been that in our initial look, we want problems with "nice" solutions so that calculators are not needed.

    But eventually we want to show how the algebra we are doing connects with the real world. And in the real world, numbers are messy. There is no point in teaching a child the long hand method of finding the square root of 2139.77. THAT is what a calculator is for.

    You oversimplify things when you suggest that removing technology would teach students better.

  • parkerwr Jun 17, 2011

    And you wonder why our jobless rate is so high. Our students need to have 21st century skills to survive in the job market. Without these skills, they are not going to be successful. And, it starts so much earlier. Do your homework. How are Mississippi students doing. If we are going to be ranked with Mississippi, in per pupil funding, this is where we will end up. Our students will not be competitive, and those who are will leave the state, go to school and work elsewhere. When you skim off the top, you are not left with much to help the state be competitive with other states or the world.