Living on a farm for the past eight months, I've learned more about rural life than I ever wanted to know. Corridors of sweet corn surround this place, alleys of alfalfa, highways of hay. The words "don't eat your seed corn" aren't just a witty expression. They are a matter of survival.
In public education, star teachers are the seed corn from which educated citizens grow. Which probably explains why Republican legislators chose to unfund North Carolina's most effective teachers' initiative, the NC Teaching Fellows Program, in a fit of budget extremism. Rob Christensen's excellent story, originally in the N&O, was picked up by the paper in Myrtle Beach, so I'm happy to share it here.
The Teaching Fellows Program fell victim to the budget ax. As the legislature sought to deal with a $2.5 billion budget shortfall, it decided to phase out the $13.5 million annual funding for the program. This year's entering college freshman class will be the last to receive scholarships - though two Republican lawmakers suggested funding could be reinstated in future sessions.
The Teaching Fellows Program is one of a number of teacher programs that the legislature, which adjourned Thursday, decided to eliminate, phase out, or drastically cut. Lawmakers:
Eliminated the N.C. Teacher Academy as of July 1, when it cut all $4.7 million in annual funding from the Morrisville-based program that provides seminars and courses for educators across the state.
Cut in half the budget for the Cullowhee-based N.C. Center for the Advancement for Teaching, which is designed to reinvigorate career teachers to prevent burnout. The legislature first proposed abolishing the program before cutting funding from $6.1 million to $3 million.
Lawmakers said they were faced with the difficult choice of whether to make budget cuts that would directly affect the classroom or to cut other education programs.
When you're out talking to friends about our new budget priorities, don't buy into the happy horseshit about "difficult choices" in public education. The only choice that matters is this: Republican lawmakers refused to raise taxes by even a quarter of a percent on millionaires, resulting in the reckless destruction of proven programs that recruited and trained new teachers.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.