Here is my weekly update for you:
House Speaker Tim Moore rejected a proposal for a 10 percent increase in teacher pay, calling it “unrealistic.” Teachers and state employees received paltry $750 bonuses this year, not nearly enough to attract teachers for the multiple vacancies in jobs across the state. As a consequence, enrollment in teacher preparation programs at UNC Schools is down 30% from 2010, as we continue to hemorrhage talent because talent can’t afford to teach in NC. Our legislature’s priorities firmly rest with tax cuts instead of citizens.
Pat McCrory, Phil Berger, and and Tim Moore may talk about the “Carolina Comeback”, but nothing could be further from the truth. The News & Observer correctly perceives that the way that our state’s priorities have shifted makes us more vulnerable to the fickle nature of economic markets. Thanks to these Republican priorities, wages are stagnating, education innovations are stagnating, and safety nets for those experiencing hard times like food stamps and unemployment have been drastically cut.
The state legislature’s demand for millions of dollars in savings has pushed the board of the NC State Health Plan to float controversial options that would affect up to 280,000 state workers and their spouses. These changes would not take effect next year and some would require legislative approval but have many rightly worried. Plans appear to raise costs as well as cut benefits.
This week the Network for Public Education (NPE) graded North Carolina’s public school system with an ‘F’ for overall quality. NPE is a nonprofit group that advocates for state public school systems. The grade criteria shies away from high-stakes testing and looks at the way teachers are treated, governmental support, among others. Sadly, this is unsurprising for a state that is 47th in per-pupil spending. Take a look at the full metrics and how we stack up against other states here.