Generating a lot of conversation and comments from the crowd,
North Carolina legislators and education heads talked about the recent changes
in education laws that will have 2013-14 impacts.
The two-hour State of Education in North Carolina discussion
was held on Thursday, Oct. 17, in the University of North Carolina education
building, and circled around master’s degree supplement cuts, teacher tenure elimination
by 2018 and school vouchers funding.
There was a clear divide between Republicans and Democrats
on the panel.
Forum and audience members threw numbers back and forth to
show the significance of the changes.
Dr. Edward Pruden, superintendent of Brunswick County Public
Schools, said countywide 132 teachers have to be chosen by the end of the year
to be offered a four-year contract and a $5,000 raise split throughout four
years. Pruden said school administrators have no rationale or way to tell the
133rd teacher why she did not get the money.
“That’s why it’s so contentious,” Pruden said. “… Please
don’t do anything that divides us and keeps us from working powerfully.”
Earlier Pruden said there is a teacher salary gap of $10,000
with all neighboring states.
On the other side of the debate, Senator Thom Goolsby,
referencing the Highlights of the North Carolina Public Schools Budget from February
2013, said that in 2012 North Carolina ranked 11th in the United
States and second in the southeast for school funds from the state at 62
He said Democrats cut $840 million before and $361 million
was added by Republicans.
“It’s easy to bash the legislature,” Goolsby said. “It’s
easy to bash the Republicans.”
Former Democrat United States Representative Bob Etheridge
said there is more money this year than in 2008, but there are more children.
He said the amounts mean a decrease of $327 less per child.
The average amount spent per student is $8,400.
School administrators, like Pruden, are worried that cuts to
master’s degree supplements will drive more teachers away.
“We are really faced with losing a profession in this state,
and it’s the most important profession to each and every one of us,” Democratic
Representative Susi Hamilton said. “… I want to take care of the people who are
taking care of my daughter.”
Republican Representative Ted Davis Jr., who is also a
former New Hanover County commissioner, said representatives have to look at
the pot of money that the state has and make decisions on what to spend it on.
He asked people to look at the problems legislators were trying to tackle.
Full story will be
printed on Thursday, Oct. 24.