Local Politics

GOP: Increase class sizes, not taxes

Posted March 10, 2009

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— In response to Gov. Beverly Perdue's call for increased per-student spending amid a budget crisis, state Republican leaders said Tuesday the size of classes in public schools should go up instead.

During her first State of the State address Monday night, Perdue said she would work to preserve education funding while making drastic cuts in other areas to close a budget deficit expected to top $3 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July.

Deborah Rosenella, Swift Creek Elementary teacher Teachers worry about class-size proposal

"I'll fight for kids and schools with every breath I breathe," she said Tuesday morning. "I can do that in this budget. I can raise per-capita spending."

Perdue was expected to submit her proposed 2009-10 budget to lawmakers next week, and she declined to provide details Tuesday of how she would finance the added school spending.

She already has ordered state agencies to reduce spending by 9 percent, and she said Monday that "everything is on the table" to fill the budget gap. She didn't directly address the possibility of tax increases in her address.

The GOP rolled out its own recommendations Tuesday for balancing the budget, including increasing class sizes in schools. Adding two students to each class would save the state about $300 million by cutting the number of teachers needed, they said.

"It's a happy thought that your child will be in a smaller class, but we can get a much better bang for the buck by giving good incentive pay to teachers and having the best teachers rather than reducing class size by another one or two or three (students)," House Minority Leader Paul Stam said.

Perdue, a former teacher, said she would increase class sizes "as a last resort."

"I understand what it means firsthand when you put two or three more children in a classroom," she said.

Some teachers agreed with Perdue's assessment, saying larger classes mean less of the individual attention that most students need.

"It definitely concerns me," Swift Creek Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Deborah Rosenella said of the GOP proposal. "Even two or three more children in a room makes a difference."

Still, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said the deficit requires the state take steps that normally would be unpalatable.

"I think we're getting pretty close to have to look at those last resorts, and we need to be serious about it, Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said.

"We may have to (expand classes) for a while. It may be more difficult on our teachers, but we're all in this together," said Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston.

Teachers hope students don't learn less in the process, Rosenella said.

"Whenever we make a decision around here, it's always, 'How does it impact student learning?'" she said. "We know there are going to be budget cuts. We know we're going to have to do more with less."

Other cost-cutting proposals made by the Republicans include consolidating the More at Four and Smart Start pre-kindergarten programs to eliminate duplication, using software to catch bogus Medicaid claims before they're paid and suspending state funding of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The state should pursue money from the federal stimulus package to pay for any water-quality projects, they said.

The GOP also said money from the national tobacco litigation settlement, which funds economic development projects in rural counties, should revert to the state's general budget.

Berger, R-Rockingham, said in the official Republican response to Perdue's speech that the state shouldn't fix its budget at the expense of family budgets.


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  • Eduardo1 Mar 11, 2009

    why is this site turned in to a forum on Huckabee? If students can not be taught properly by increasing class size by 2 or 3 students, then the entire education and parental support system is broken.

  • strawberrysw4 Mar 11, 2009

    nxtlvl4me: "Religious imposing, presumptuous and selfish- strawberrysw4."

    I am presumptuous? Give me a reason I am "religious imposing"? Because I said I thought Huckabee was a better VP pick that Palin?

    And why am I selfish? Because (the are some exceptions) I feel that the government doesn't need to support everyone? Because I live within my means and save every dollar I can, but hate seeing other people living off the government? People use the government as a safety net. I'm sorry, but I'm tired of having my "wealth" distributed." If someone really needs help, I believe in helping, but on my own free will, not that of the governments.

    I'm sorry your mother has such high medical expenses. I agree that the health care system is broken ... however I know how medical expenses go. I'm in my 20's, I'm a cancer survivor and have had 3 surgeries in the past 3 years... but the government hasn't paid a penny.

  • woodrowboyd2 Mar 11, 2009

    if increaseing the class size by 2 students will hurt a teacher then she needs a job doing something else

  • Timetogo Mar 11, 2009

    Yo Bev... I'm no longer WORKING!! TAX THAT!

  • nxtlvl4me Mar 11, 2009

    Strawberrysw4 - Wrong assumption 1, I am not a liberal. I have voted for too many republicans and blue dog democrats for that label.

    Wrong assumption 2, my mom saved for her retirement too, but did not count on a $1,000.00 a month pharmaceutical bill she has to deal with. If your parents are that clairvoyant, good for them because 99.9% of the people on this planet are not! I might add that you original statement about lazy people did not include the caveat that there are “exceptions”.

    Wrong assumption 3 I have no problem at all with Christianity. I grew up a Christian myself. I do have a problem with people trying to impose a specific religion or worse selected scripture of a specific religion on others and the huckabees of the world have and will continue to do this all the time. To add hypocrisy to the religious imposition, they choose to ignore scripture that does not fit their agenda.

  • strawberrysw4 Mar 11, 2009

    nxtlvl4me: Why is it that liberals are so "open" to everything, but so against accepting christian people. I don't think that Huckabee's religion would have been as big of a deal as you are making it.

    As far as what I said about supporting others, there are exceptions... I'm not saying you mom is or isn't. But, she worked for those companies without that much retirement. She made that decision. My mom is a secretary, my dad works in a mill. Their whole lives that have lived well below their means, and saved as much money as they could. They are at retirement age, but both want to keep working for a few extra years. They'll be able to get buy without government assistance.

    I was reading something just the other day that had a quote in it: "We will practice trickle-down economics and you can give trickle-up poverty your best shot."

    By the way, I wasn't saying I support raising class sizes.

  • nxtlvl4me Mar 11, 2009

    Religious imposing, presumptuous and selfish- strawberrysw4.

    You have a great future as a republican strategist or a evangelical preacher (only if you are a man).

  • nxtlvl4me Mar 11, 2009

    1) Huckabee would have turned away anyone and everyone that did not want a right winged single version of a single religion dictating the actions of the 2nd in command of this Country.

    2) Your generalization that you will pay more or less over the next 4 yrs to “support those that are too lazy to support themselves” is wrong and insulting. My mom worked every adult day of her life, never asked for anything and because of a lack of retirement benefits at any of the companies she worked for, she relies on government assistance to help pay her medical and pharmaceutical bills. You dare call her lazy or anyone like her!

    3) I don’t have children either, but I think the children in this State deserve the best education possible and am willing to pay and/or have the legislative bodies of NC look for other revenue savings scenarios! I am just not that selfish!

  • strawberrysw4 Mar 11, 2009

    nxtlvl4me: Huckabee wouldn't have turned people away like Palin did.

    I am bitter that Obama won, becuase for the next 4 years I'll be paying to support those that are too lazy to support themselves.

    Those that complain about the large sizes, are probably not the ones that are paying the tab.

    If you're one of the parents that is so upset at the public school system, don't use it. Put you're kids in private school.

    I don't have children. Until I can easily afford private school, I will not have kids.

  • nxtlvl4me Mar 11, 2009

    Regarding huckabee, he would have only appealed to the right winged Christian fringe of the republican party that would only voted republican anyway. It is the embrace of people like palin and huckabee, that think they know “God's Plan” and can impose it on others has driven this independent farther and farther away from the republican party. This concept of sacrificing the potential quality of the education for short term financial gains, isn’t helping matters either!