Lawmakers have finally brought an end to the marathon “short” session which lasted over a month longer than planned, and wasted $1.1 million in taxpayer money. Unfortunately, they left a great deal of work undone -- or even worse, done poorly.
Teacher Assistant Jobs at Risk
The General Assembly adjourned without fixing the budget’s cuts to teacher assistant funding, forcing districts across the state to cut TA positions. Funding for textbooks has dropped by 79% over the past five years, according to the Dept. of Public Instruction. In many schools, students are forced to share textbooks. Teacher turnover in Wake County jumped over 20% since last year. Veteran teachers across the state will continue to leave after seeing almost no pay raise at all.
The Coal Ash “Cleanup” Bill That Wasn’t
Lawmakers did pass a coal ash “cleanup” bill, but it doesn’t actually require Duke Energy to clean up most of their coal ash. Their agreement allows Duke to leave coal ash in 10 of its 14 pits across the state. For the coal ash that is going to be cleaned up, Duke Energy will be allowed to pass those costs onto blameless ratepayers -- as much as $10 billion. Meanwhile, Gov. Pat McCrory is taking criticism for filing an ethics form at the height of the coal ash scandal which falsely claimed he didn’t own Duke Energy stock.
The Bottom Line: Lawmakers made a lot of big promises about raising teacher pay and cleaning up Duke Energy’s pollution. However, their actions show that protecting special interests was more important than protecting than the public interest.
In Case You Missed It:
WLOS: ”Smaller State Funding, Bigger Class Size”
Tyler Faetz says he'll maintain his commitment to quality teaching English at Franklin High School. But he says more kids in the room, makes it harder. "The larger your population the more difficult it is to work with those small groups and give students that individual attention," he says. Administrators say it's the result of lawmakers making cuts to teaching allocations. They say fewer teachers and teaching assistants means rearranging staffing and making due with less.
Wilmington Star News: "Brunswick Schools Take Up Mass Exodus of Teachers"
Brunswick County Schools are seeing a "mass exodus" of teachers, according to Mark Pasier, the school system's director of human resources. Out of approximately 840 teachers, Brunswick County has lost 181, or one in five, in the past school year. While districts expect to lose teachers over the summer due to retirements and resignations, and 82 of those who left Brunswick County did so over the summer, Brunswick County is losing teachers throughout the school year at a rate of 10 per month, Pasier said.
KTRK: “Houston Recruits New Teachers Globally, Finds ‘Goldmine’ in North Carolina”
Superintendent Terry Grier, who used to work with Jewell in North Carolina, knows teachers are ripe for the picking because of low pay and lack of funding. "He is doing probably what any employer would want to do, is go and look where there is discontent and offer them something better," said Mark Jewell of the North Carolina Association of Educators.