Reacting to the finalized State budget now awaiting action by Governor Beverly Perdue, the Co-Chairs of the Quality School Coalition (QSC) charged legislators with “setting education at all levels back decades.” They further said, “We don’t have to go this deeply. Keeping all or part of the current one-cent sales tax would avoid most of the cuts to universities, community colleges and K-12 schools. This is a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.”
Tom Bradshaw, former Chair of the State Chamber of Commerce, and Larry Price, former State Superintendent of the Year, Co-Chair the coalition which now speaks on behalf of over forty statewide and local organizations. Commenting on the budget for public schools, they said, “The final budget is the worst of both worlds. Only a week after saying they were going to reform education by cutting teacher assistants and lowering class size, the General Assembly has reversed itself and is keeping assistants while finding the money to add over 1,000 teaching jobs to school districts that don’t have 1,000 classrooms. Worse, they are passing along the job of finding over $428 million in budget cuts to local school officials who will have to lay off thousands of employees at the same time they are getting 1,000 new teachers. That’s not school reform. It’s a shell game.”
They also pointed out that “cuts that remain in the budget will mean that thousands of young people will be denied preschool programs because of cuts to Smart Start and More at Four. Additionally, programs that have gained national recognition like the Teaching Fellows Program, Smart Start, More at Four and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching are being eliminated or cut deeply. Other programs like the Science Olympiad and the Governors School that provide talented young people enrichment opportunities are disappearing from the budget, as are all professional development for educators and mentors for teachers. By phasing out the Teaching Fellows Program, legislators are cutting the future pipeline for our State to have quality teachers.”
“Beyond K-12 education,” they continued, “community colleges and the UNC system still are getting cut deeply at the same time thousands of unemployed workers are enrolling in college to gain skills that will help them find employment.”
“None of this has to happen,” they concluded. “The onecent sales tax that the General Assembly would end costs the average taxpayer less than a quarter a day. Our children are worth that penny tax.”
The Coalition respectfully urges Governor Perdue to veto this inadequate budget proposal, to fight any attempted override of her veto, and to insist on a new budget to give all children the public schools they need and deserve.