The Macon County precincts of Smith Bridge and Flats met to organize and energize democratic and independent voters over breakfast on Saturday. Guest speakers included candidate for the 50th Senate District, John Snow, and John deVille, vice-president of the Macon County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
Senate hopeful John Snow discussed that he believes incumbent Jim Davis isn’t working for the people of Western North Carolina. Snow highlighted how he was an independent-minded advocate for WNC, while Davis was towing the party-line, whether it was to benefit WNC or not.
Snow ensured voters that if elected, he would provide dedicated constituent services, which is something he believes is too commonly overlooked by Sen. Davis.
According to Snow, Davis’ platform is surrounded around the assumption that under the Republican led General Assembly's budget, 2000 teacher jobs have been created or retained despite difficult financial times. Snow pointed out that the jobs Davis refereed could not be attributed to the GOP's budget, but instead are the result of President Obama's federal EduJobs money, which is set to run out.
While both speakers focused on the topic of education, deVille highlighted key points from a powerpoint presentation he gave at the educational forum held at Western Carolina University called 'Cuts Hurt.'
DeVille spoke out against the budget cuts not only as a North Carolina educator, but also as the vice-president of the Macon County chapter of the NCAE.
According to deVille, Western Carolina University experienced a $14.2 million reduction which resulted in scaling back some of the university’s programs of study and also forced a change in the university’s credit rating from stable to negative by Moody’s Investors Service. DeVille also explained that since 1984 the average cost of tuition in NC has gone up 400 percent as a share of median household income.
During deVille’s slideshow presentation he explained that the current General Assembly attempted to cut 12,500 teaching assistant jobs throughout the state but actually only cut 2,300 and also cut 1,700 K- 12 teacher positions. He also noted that 4,000 teachers and 3,000 teacher assistants were cut in the previous two years.
As an educator, one of deVille’s greatest concerns is not being able to honestly answer the questions asked of him by his students regarding reasons to work toward college readiness. “Every single junior in the state of North Carolina will have to take the ACT as a measure of college readiness,” noted deVille. “And I am thinking, college ready? I want to know are the colleges ready? When the General Assembly is proposing to increase class sizes, put caps on enrollment ... I am trying to figure out how I am supposed to sell that to a 16, 17 or 15-year-old kid in my classroom why he needs to prepare for the ACT when all he has to do is point to Cullowhee, point to Raleigh, point to Winston Salem and Greensboro and say, ‘They don’t really have a place for me, and if they do have a place for me, I can’t afford it. So why should I prepare and why should I study for the ACT Mr. deVille?’ Well, I don’t know why and I don't have a clever answer for that,” he concluded.
John deVille, vice-president of the Macon County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators