Editorial Blasts Politicians for Budget Delays that Impact Students

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The Mt. Airy News is out with an editorial that slams lawmakers in Raleigh for their failure to pass a budget. The editorial highlights how the budget delays are already impacting students in the classroom. They also criticize the reckless plan by politicians to lay off 8,500 TAs. 

From the editorial,

While the state still doesn’t have a budget for the fiscal year which began almost eight weeks ago, negotiators from the governor’s office and the GOP-controlled General Assembly have agreed on a total spending figure for the year — $21.74 billion.

The figure is closer to the $21.65 billion Gov. Pat McCrory and the senate wanted, while a fair bit short of the House’s $22.16 billion spending plan. The target represents a 2.7 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.

Now the House and the Senate will be wrangling over the particulars — which programs get cut to stay under the agreed-upon figure, what spending is delayed, that sort of thing.

One program facing cuts that will be felt locally is the move by the Senate to eliminate the more than 6,700 teacher assistants across the state. Between Surry County and Mount Airy, that could result in nearly 150 lost jobs. Just as bad, that will affect both school systems’ ability to effectively meet their mandate to provide a quality education to the children and youths in area classrooms. Of particular concern is how this will play out vs. federal mandates that say children with handicaps often must have an individual education plan that includes a teaching assistant giving individual attention to that child.

This issue also highlights what happens when legislators are beholden to a party ideology rather than concerned with real life in their respective communities.

Eliminating the teacher assistants is part of the GOP promise to cut spending. Many of the present legislators were swept into office, at least in part, on a promise to cut taxes and cut spending. The General Assembly has certainly cut taxes, though it’s the upper middle class and the upper class who have primarily benefited.

To help offset some of that lost tax revenue the Legislature has to continue to make funding cuts, and the folks there seem to be doing this with broad strokes without really looking at the ramifications of those cuts.

Eliminating teacher assistants will have a negative effect — in some cases dramatically so — in the classrooms, hurting students.

The Senate leadership likes to counter with a smoke-and-mirror argument that they are actually trying to enhance education by eliminating nearly 7,000 fulltime teaching assistant jobs while providing funding for 3,000 more fulltime teachers.

Comments

  1. Jane M. Dagenhart's avatar
    Jane M. Dagenhart
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    I have questions for our congressmen and women that, apparently, they have not considered.<br /> 1) Are you aware that if schools do not meet federal mandates as to the number of teacher assistants required in exceptional children's programs, the federal government can and will come in and close down your schools? In some cases, a child's Individual Education Plan requires that a child have a one on one teacher assistant. Extremely dangerous and profoundly handicapped children are served by our public schools.<br /> 2) Have you considered where you are going to put these 3,000 new teachers? Most middle and high schools in North Carolina use every classroom every period. They utilize what they call "floating" or "traveling" teachers who push a cart from room to room to utilize a classroom during another teacher's planning period. Drive around your county. How many of the schools look like mobile home parks? Where is the money going to come from to lease these mobile classrooms? What if a brouhaha were to occur in one of these distant mobile units and the teacher and/or student were seriously injured before help could arrive?<br /> 3) North Carolina is opening school with severe teacher shortages in all large school districts. Enrollment in teacher education programs has dropped 27%. Have you considered where you are going to find 3,000 new teachers when you cannot even fill the positions available now to open school?
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