Restoring Quality Education
I am running for the North Carolina Senate District 50 because I am concerned about the future of this State. Opportunities for our children have been eroded by the massive cuts and threats to public education. If we allow the legislative changes to education in North Carolina to remain in place, our children and grandchildren will receive an education of far less quality than their forebears.
Having spent over thirty-eight years in public education, I know first hand what it means to be an educator. Working first as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in HaywoodCounty and eventually as a science consultant for the Western Area Regional Alliance, I have been a school psychologist, a teacher, a program developer, and a National Math and Science Consultant. While I look back at my time in the classroom with pride, the recent moves of our North Carolina Legislature leave nothing to be proud of.
Education from early childhood to our universities has taken a severe pounding as a result of substantial cuts imposed by our General Assembly. The impact of these cuts meant that our counties have fewer teachers, fewer teacher assistance in our elementary classrooms, and a reduction in assistant principals.
Class sizes have gone up especially in our counties’ high school math, science, social studies, and language arts. And now, with no teacher assistant available in many of our elementary classrooms of 20 or more students who are struggling to read, this situation is not going to provide needed outcomes for these students to move forward successfully.
State allotment for textbooks has been cut by better than 75%. Because our schools haven’t had funds to purchase textbooks in several years, in a number of classes there aren’t enough books to go around. And, where there are enough books, they are 10 years old and outdated for meeting the new Common Core of Study. To bridge this gap, teachers are having to photo-copy textbook pages or printing appropriate work off the internet. But, State budget reductions have cut funds for instructional supplies — like copy paper — by more than 50%.
North Carolina has dropped to 46th in teacher pay; and now, only the top 25% of teachers will receive a meager raise of $500. With such an increase being based on competition among the faculty, the environment of sharing ideas among pears is out especially if they have a chance to be in the top 25% and increase their income.
These losses to public education would be understandable if they were due to an economic downturn; but, this past year our General Assembly chose to subsidize private school vouchers with fifty (50) million dollars over the next two years. Four hundred thousand dollars of these were assigned to private school administrative costs.
I was a teacher, not because education helps children memorize facts and figures, but rather education lays a foundation for the rest of a child’s life. Education offers that child opportunities that he or she wouldn’t have otherwise. Education gives them a competitive edge, the knowledge that with hard work comes possibility, and is often, particularly in our region of the State, the first step in breaking the cycle of poverty.
I am running for the State Senate because I believe in education. It is time that we in western North Carolina join together and rebuild the public education program in this great State. Let’s pay our teachers a winning wage. Let’s reward those who seek advanced certification and degrees, And, let’s get back to the business of building a better North Carolina.