Local Politics

Senate Republicans propose changes in early education

Posted May 19, 2011 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2011 3:46 p.m. EDT

State Senate Republicans want to change the face of early education as part of their revised spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger says the current education system isn't working, and he is proposing various changes in state budget allotments for education.

The ideas that Berger is touting include cutting teaching assistants in all grades but kindergarten, reducing class size in grades 1-3, paying teachers based on performance rather than seniority and eliminating five teacher work days to add five days to the school year.

At a roundtable discussion with educators and business leaders Thursday morning, Gov. Bev Perdue said she is interested in seeing the Senate's latest target, which cuts education by more than $1 billion yet reduces class size in grades 1-3.

"You've got have resources to do any of that, so I wonder where the money is coming from," she said.

Perdue proposed keeping 0.75 percent temporary sales tax in place to help pay for education, but Berger says Republicans will keep their campaign promise of not raising taxes and allow the tax to expire at the end of June.

"Throwing more money or scoring things based on how much money you're throwing at the current system seems to us to be wrongheaded," Berger said.

"What we think is important is what you're doing with the dollars you have and are those dollars being targeted to improve student outcome," he added.