The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

August 21, 2013

What the North Carolina legislature did to public education

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 — RALEIGH — In the aftermath of this year’s legislative session, public education supporters and GOP lawmakers have been fighting to define the narrative about what the legislature did or didn’t do to public education.

That legislators made a number of significant policy changes affecting the public schools, including eliminating teacher tenure and allowing vouchers for private schooling, is not in dispute.

What those changes mean for the future is.

Teachers’ groups say the changes will undermine public school funding and cause good teachers to leave the profession; advocates of the changes say they will give parents more options and allow schools to fire bad teachers.

The bigger battle involves the state budget, its funding of education and what that will mean for the public schools moving forward.

Education officials and teachers argue that schools will not only be forced to eliminate teaching assistant jobs, as called for in the budget, but also teaching positions and other services.

GOP legislators who helped craft the budget call the predictions of calamity more of the same carping from the education establishment and Democrats. They point to figures showing education spending rising by almost 4 percent, even while a separate comparison including inflation and student enrollment shows a 2-percent cut.

The numbers may not support some pending calamity. They do show that North Carolina has entered a slow slog of less support for public education.

The left and right have been battling over comparisons between spending levels from the past two years.

Looking at the numbers over a longer horizon provides a more unsettling picture.

Prior to the Great Recession, in the 2007-08 fiscal year, North Carolina legislators budgeted $7.71 billion for the public schools, $2.63 billion for the public universities and $938 million for the community colleges.

Six years later, state support for the public schools is $7.87 billion, or $154 million more; public universities $2.58 billion, or $43 million less; and community colleges $1.02 billion, or $83 million more.

Setting aside the issue of rising enrollment, just an examination of inflation shows the extent of the funding slide.

That $7.71 billion in 2007 dollars for K-12 is the equivalent of $8.69 billion today, or $820 million less than public schools are now receiving. The $2.62 billion in 2007 dollars to the public universities is the equivalent of $2.96 billion in current dollars, or $374 million less than they are now receiving. One reduction would equal almost 10 percent, the other over 10 percent.

Republican legislators point out that most of those cuts took place before they took power in 2011. That’s true.

But the Democratic-penned budgets that preceded them, in 2009 and 2010, had federal stimulus dollars to backfill the cuts.

The federal money ran out a couple of years ago. GOP lawmakers have chosen to put only a portion of recovering tax collections toward restoring public education budgets.

The chickens have come home to roost.

The sky may not be falling, but the squawking is hardly confined to the Chicken Littles.


Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content