Dramatic Cuts to Public Education!
I'm spending the month of August focusing on public education, one of my three top priorities (exceptional public schools, well-paying jobs, and affordable health care for all).
This week my message relates to the dramatic shortage of adequate funding for our schools. View the video, or read the transcript below.
School starts in 19 days. Will there be enough qualified, motivated teachers? Will there be sufficient supplies? Will there be there be adequate support?
I doubt it.
Today, I want to talk to you about the biggest crisis facing our public schools: the dramatic funding shortage. In the past 10 years, the GOP-controlled legislature has cut the education budget by $840 million. When you adjust for inflation, North Carolina spends $600 LESS per student than in 2008!
In Catawba County, our three school districts average about $8,485 in per-pupil spending, which is about two-thirds the U.S. average of $12,578. This means, in many cases, teachers and Parent Teacher Organizations fill in the gaps to cover the costs of new technology like Chromebooks and digital subscription services. Yet, not every school has an active and affluent PTO. Not every child in North Carolina has equal access to a quality education – something guaranteed by the state constitution.
Let me tell you what this means in the classroom. In North Carolina, third graders are graded based on End of Grade tests on different subjects to demonstrate proficiency. In Catawba County, third grade teachers have not received new science textbooks in more than 10 years. They had a paid subscription to an online science program so, the students could have access to an advanced scientific curriculum during their classes. But, guess what, Catawba County due to funding shortages had to end that subscription! So, our students will be tested on material that they may or may not have covered. Yes, standardized tests are a challenge, and I’ll be talking about them, but the reality is, Catawba County third graders are not going to have the best preparation for these end-of-grade tests. Further, the results of these tests could affect the future funding and support our schools receive. Hickory and Newton-Conover school districts may have made different purchasing choices than the county, but make no mistake, they are all faced with the same tight budget restrictions.
In some cases, PTOs have stepped up and paid for computers, software, and other classroom supplies. Mountain View Elementary, for one, has an awesome PTO, which has raised money for the school to buy a complete classroom set of Chromebooks for all the teachers, part of the system-wide 1-to-1 goal, to have every student receive their own Chromebook. Other schools in the district aren’t so lucky; I’ve heard about teachers sharing 15 Chromebooks between four classrooms!
This is ridiculous! We can’t ask Catawba County working families to raise the money for these programs and technology. Public education is a public responsibility. It is unfair to expect teachers to plan for a school year when they don’t know what materials will be available. I am not pointing fingers at the school superintendents. This is a direct result of the GOP-controlled legislature cutting state school funding more than 55 percent in the last five years.
Please send me to Raleigh to represent the 96th district so I can work to reverse this horrible trend and return North Carolina to where it once was -- the top place in the South to educate your child in a public school. I’ll see you next week when I talk about the need for teacher pay increases, plus the importance of support staff such as social workers and librarians.
Thanks for watching. I hope you’ll share the video, leave comments on my page, and join my campaign to take back the North Carolina House so we can have a great public education system again.
Above all, mark your calendar to vote for Kim Bost on November 6.