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Budget deal would cut thousands of teaching jobs

Posted June 22, 2009
Updated June 23, 2009

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— Thousands of North Carolina teachers and teaching assistants would lose their jobs in the next two years under a budget compromise discussed Monday by state lawmakers.

Budget negotiators from the House and Senate have been working for the past week on a two-year spending plan that erases a projected $4.6 billion deficit. Lawmakers are trying to approve a budget before the new fiscal year starts July 1.

Education State budget cuts could hit classrooms hard

Education committees on Monday looked at a deal to cut more than $390 million in classroom spending.

Under the plan, Senators would accede to House demands to maintain current class sizes in kindergarten through the third grade. Third-grade teaching assistants would be eliminated in the proposal, saving $130 million while costing 4,500 jobs.

In return, House negotiators agreed to the Senate's plan to increase class sizes in grades four through 12. The phased-in approach would add two students to each class in the coming school year and a third student to each class in 2010-11.

Larger classes mean fewer teachers are needed. About 3,400 teachers would lose their jobs in the first year of the proposal, saving $183 million. Another 1,500 teaching positions would be eliminated in the second year, saving another $80 million.

Other proposed cuts include $30 million to the More at Four pre-kindergarten program over two years, $10 million from school support personnel and $38 million in improving student accountability.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has been barnstorming the state in recent days trying to rally support for higher taxes to avoid such drastic cuts to education.

"I've been so troubled by the proposed cuts to public education," Perdue said last Wednesday in Raleigh. "We cannot increase class size. We cannot lay off teachers. We will not sacrifice North Carolina's economic future."

She has called on lawmakers to raise $1 billion to $1.5 billion in new revenue each year that could be funneled back into spending in North Carolina's public schools, community colleges and universities.

The House and Senate have unveiled markedly different plans for raising the money – the House wants to raise sales and income taxes, while the Senate wants taxes on various services and higher cigarette and alcohol taxes – so it's unclear whether they will reach a compromise.

If lawmakers can agree on a plan for raising the revenue, some of the education cuts under consideration might be dropped.

"We could really make some serious adjustments in terms of class sizes (and) in terms of programs at the universities, and it would be a major boost," Rep Ray Rapp, D-Haywood, said of having some extra revenue in the budget.

"The serious problem the governor has, which is the problem the (legislative) leadership has, is where are you going to get the votes to increase the taxes you're talking about to get to $1.5 billion," Rapp said.

Negotiators have agreed on about 95 percent of education cuts. They still have to discuss potential jobs cuts at the state Department of Public Instruction, whether to allow out-of-state athletes in the University of North Carolina system to pay in-state tuition and higher education tuition increases.

The House wants to raise tuition at UNC campuses and community colleges by $200 or 8 percent, whichever is lower, while the Senate wants to offer campuses more flexibility in raising tuition.

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  • metricula Jun 26, 2009

    I think one of the main problems with public education is that legislators are making WAY too many decisions for the schools and they aren't even in the teaching profession. They don't know what it's like in the classroom.

    And it offends me that some people seem to think all children have the exact same capacity and willingness to learn--they don't. Some will swear at you just for telling them to take a seat. There are some things a teacher can control inside the classroom, but it's their job to teach--not to be a parent. Unfortunately they are often expected to do both jobs.

    A teacher can't follow a student home and force them to do homework, but in many schools teachers aren't even allowed to give zeros for missing or incomplete work. How does this help kids? "Oh, you didn't feel like doing this assignment? Okay, that's fine."

    That's NOT the way to prepare students for college or the work force.

  • kittiboo Jun 24, 2009

    mbyerly- let's put you in a kindergarten class of 25 5 year olds, some of whom have never seen a book before and come from all kinds of backgrounds, tell you to teach them all the same thing but in different ways to meet all their needs and let you try. Then, as 2 have wet their pants, one is destroying your desk, 3 are hitting each other, one has cried non-stop for hours and you REALLY have to pee, you'll be wishing you had 5 TAs.
    I encourage you to shadow a TA for a day and see if you think they're worth the measley salary they get. TAs are vital in today's classrooms, mostly because parents don't do THEIR job anymore.

  • mbyerly Jun 24, 2009

    "How many assistants does the assistant to the assisant's assistant require?" -colliedave

    Why are there TA's in primary education?? Fortunately I was educated in another state, and never saw a TA until I was at university. And by the way, I graduated high school in 1997, so it was not that long ago.

    What are these so-called teachers getting paid to do? All of my K-12 educators were capable of getting it done on their own with classes ranging in size from twenty-five to almost forty students! While I usually would not wish misfortune on anyone, in this situation, shedding the primary ed. TA's employed by the state sounds like an excellent place to start.

  • Tired of your excuses Jun 24, 2009

    Cut Dr. Larry Price's (Wilson County) salary and that would save a few positions. The man makes close to $300,000 per year. And from what I understand, he just voted himself for a raise. Literally disgusting, I hope he can sleep at night.

  • awomnsptofview Jun 24, 2009

    "Other proposed cuts include $30 million to the More at Four pre-kindergarten program over two years, $10 million from school support personnel and $38 million in improving student accountability." ############################################################
    ####

    This part of the budget cuts, I agree with. This is nothing more than free day care for some parents. I detest this particular program. Other cuts in teachers and assistants is not going to win her any re-election points. NC is finally not at the bottom in educating our students. Lets dont move backwards on that.

    Just my opinion...

  • though Jun 24, 2009

    First off, I want to say I love my job as a teacher. There seems to be alot of people who advocate raising class sizes with the "we had large classes and we did fine". Yes, that is true. But its obvious that you have not been in an elementary classroom for a long time. We no longer stand in front of the room and teach the same thing to all students. I had 4 groups of students on 4 different levels in reading and math. Therefore, I had to plan lessons for each group, not the whole class. I had at least 5 centers going on at one time while reading with different groups. I had children who didn't know any letters or sounds to children who could read on a 2nd and 3rd grade level. Those who were not on level had to have a "action plan" detailing all the strategies that you were going to use to teach them. I had about 10 plans at one time. Also, we have no power when it comes to discipline. The problem is not that teachers can't and won't teach large classes. Its just difficult.

  • though Jun 24, 2009

    Mrsmom
    I came from Pennsylvania to teach here. I graduated from one of the best universities for teaching in the country and have a masters degree in elementary education. Alot of teachers come from PA to help teach the children here. We are well educated and certified.

  • JennyT Jun 24, 2009

    Instead of cutting anyone from the actual school building, let's cut all those administrators in their fancy little buildings? Like that pink palace in downtown Raleigh? And Bev's BFF, the one she created a special position for to do the job we elected June to do? Let's get rid of the middle management who don't really do anything!

  • bissette Jun 24, 2009

    I think the legislators need to go back to school How DUMB can these grown adults be? Doing this to our educational system.
    It's just so unbelievable they are doing this.

  • mrsmom Jun 24, 2009

    Mako II - I agree with many of your points. The teacher preparation programs in NC and the curriculum ARE top notch. Chances are if your child had a bad teacher, they were either one of the older ones or imported from another state. Expect more of this since all the news about cutting teaching positions will likely dry up the pool of students going into teacher education...more will have to be pulled from out of state and lateral entry in the future.

    However, I disagree with the reading DIFFERENCE between the states being the parents fault. I don't think parents in NC are that much different than those in other states. Parenting skills are declining everywhere.

    Several of the states being mentioned have huge populations of non-English speaking students that offset the comparisons. Let illegal immigration keep going unchecked and NC will be the same way.

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