Plans to end public schools'Horror show' is about halfway done
Some folks think money grows on trees and public schools can be funded as if we live in a utopian dream world. On the other end of the extreme continuum, there are people who think there should be no public schools at all. They are too smart to say this out loud but their actions speak loud and clear. They believe parents of school-age children should just get a little tax break or partial voucher and then shop for whatever education they can afford.
We should fund what our children need. Every child … every child … should have a “free and appropriate public education.” The opportunity to have a good education should not be based upon family income. Your tax dollars should not be used to fund exclusionary schools that eliminate “undesired” children by refusing to provide bus transportation, school meals and other public school mainstay services. These deceptive and exclusionary practices are barriers that many families cannot cross due to their socio-economic status.
There are a number of hot legislative topics regarding public education in North Carolina. These legislative initiatives include tenure, arbitrary and illogical pay plans, vouchers, charter schools and required summer reading camps … just to mention a few. These are simply distractors so citizens and voters will not focus on the “real” attack on public schools. The real attack is a continued, willful, destructive and unending loss of state funding.
Some elected state officials are deceptively saying that “more money is going into public education” and “the money follows the child.” This is taking a little truth and twisting it into a lie. North Carolina has a growing student population … so of course more students require more funding. That is where the truth ends. The money is not following the children and there is certainly not more funding for each child or school. Here is the state current expense funding changes for Haywood County Schools from 2008-09 to the present:
- 2008-09 to 2009-10 - $3,985,352
- 2009-10 to 2010-11 - $532,979
- 2010-11 to 2011-12 + $1,016,799
- 2011-12 to 2012-13 - $372,556
- 2012-13 to 2013-14 - $1,155,936
It should be noted that the increase in 2011-12 was a pre-2012-election pay raise of 1.2 percent. The pay raise was good for employees (and probably votes) but it did very little to help children in the classroom. Since 2008-09 Haywood County Schools has been cut $5,030,024. That is over $5 million or -11.39 percent. Additional cuts have occurred on the “capital outlay” or facility side of the budget. Our school district has suffered significant state cuts that include the loss of over 130 positions.
Representatives from the governor’s office and NC General Assembly give every indication that cuts to public schools will continue. They have eliminated class size limits above third grade. That means class size will continue to increase as the state continues to cut funding. New curricula and tests have been added for every grade level and almost every subject. At the same time, state instructional supply funds have been cut by a third. Regulatory requirements have been significantly reduced for charter schools and significantly increased for traditional public schools. This is not an accident … it is a plan. To make things even worse school funding cuts were made to pay for tax breaks for our wealthiest citizens.
If you believe public education is a key to having informed citizens and a strong democracy, you need to let state elected officials know that cuts to public schools must stop and some reasonable level of funding must be restored. If you are opposed to public schools or simply don’t care about public school children, sit back and enjoy the horror show. We are about halfway through the show. If the plot doesn’t change quickly there will be a very tragic ending for our children and our state.