classrooms

2019 NEA Report shows drop in per student spending in North Carolina

NEA released its 2019 Rankings and Estimates report last Monday. Updates show some positive changes, though the state still falls near the bottom in per student spending and average teacher salary.

Per student spending in NC remains near the bottom as Republican budgets consistently fail to meet classroom needs, spending nearly $3,000 below the national average per student.

  • The state dropped in rank from 39thto 42nd in per student spending between the 2016-17 school year and final 2017-18 numbers.
  • NEA’s 2018 report estimated the state would rank 39th in per student spending for 2017-18. Revised numbers drop NC to 42nd.
  • NC spends $2,957 below the national average per student.

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The State of Public Education in NC: 2019

Since Republicans have taken power, we’ve witnessed a shrinking commitment to public education at all levels. While funding remains mired at pre-recession levels, Republicans prioritize tax cuts for corporations and those at the top. We need to invest in our teachers and students.

Thousands of N.C. teachers are gathered in Raleigh to ask lawmakers to prioritize education while the House Appropriations Committee meets to discuss the state’s 2019-20 budget. How did we get here?

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Teacher donation requests display the legislature’s failure to fund classroom needs

The 2019 budget included a provision to grant a site called DonorsChoose, which connects teachers with crowdfunding for classroom supplies and other needs. The budget provision faced criticism because it specifically funded requests only in then-Sen. Jeff Tarte’s district. DonorsChoose decided to turn down the funding rather than single out specific teachers for help.

Real Facts examined a sample of the requests made on the DonorsChoose website by North Carolina teachers throughout the month of March 2019 and found that basic needs (supplies available at an office supply store) made up 24 percent of requests, following technology needs as the second most common request category. Teachers across the state turned to an independent crowdfunding website to ask for paper, markers, pencils for EOG testing, and whiteboards because state funding remains consistently inadequate on this front.

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During a hectic week, NCGA Republicans moved bills that could further cuts to education and continue advancements of unchecked privatization of public schools

A recent study found that just 23 percent of 4-year-olds in North Carolina have access to pre-k, below the national average. Meanwhile teacher pay in N.C. remains $7.8k less than the national average and NC teachers make 35.5 percent less than other 4-year college graduates in the state. Teachers pay out-of-pocket for school supplies to meet classroom needs. However, unchecked growth of charter schools has created a fiscal burden on local school districts of $500 to $700 per student.

A number of education-related bills are moving through the NCGA this session, but some appear to do more harm than good. We’ve highlighted three of those bills below.

H485 seeks to address a problem created by Republicans when they rolled back Smart-Start funding and, since then, continually failed to address the growing pre-k waitlist. Instead of funding pre-k, lawmakers want to send 4-year-olds to school online. Experts have concerns about the virtual learning pilot program because the value of pre-k “is less about the skill-learning in reading and math and more about skill-learning in social-emotional domains.” Virtual pre-k is a short-sighted effort to solve a funding failure with long-term impacts.

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low teacher pay in North Carolina is a crisis

Have you talked to a teacher in North Carolina recently? Or, more importantly, have you really listened to one? If you know or care about any teachers in this state, you most likely have witnessed their struggle to make ends meet under salaries that do not reflect their unremitting workload.

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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford)

Jon Hardister, the House Majority Whip and close ally of Speaker Tim Moore, was elected to represent Guilford County in 2012.

Since his election to the General Assembly, Hardister supported Republican budgets that shortchange public education by failing to meaningfully raise teacher salaries or fund classrooms.In 2017, the Republican budget gave no raises to beginning teachers and a 0.6 percent raise to experienced teachers— the equivalent of “just a tank of gas.” He has also supported moves to end tenure while asserting that having an advanced degree “does not necessarily make a teacher more effective.” Hardister called the 2017 budget “a commitment to public education.” This “commitment to public education” did not include a stipend to aid teachers with out-of-pocket expenses. After voting to pass the 2013 budget—which similarly failed to adequately fund schools— Hardister said he came to regret his vote after “experiencing firsthand how hard the teachers work.”

Hardister voted to deny affordable insurance to thousands.In 2013, he and the Republicans voted to block a fully-funded Medicaid expansion that covered half a million North Carolinians. Studies said this failure to expand affordable healthcare would cost the state $15 billion in new economic activity and 455 to 1,145 lives per year. Hardister later said it would be “unwise” to expand Medicaid and that we need to be “cautious about expanding the role of government in healthcare.” In 2018, Hardister and House Republicans used a loophole on a non-controversial bill to attempt to dismantle coverage for pre-existing conditions. By adding an amendment to an unrelated school psychologist licensure bill, Republicans tried to pass a statute that would discriminate against those with pre-existing health conditions, offer skimpy benefits, and come with few or no consumer protections.   

Hardister likes to harp on redistricting reform as a talking point but chose to repeatedly support unconstitutional districts that suppress voters’ electoral power. He has sponsored three independent redistricting bills, but they all stalled in committee. To avoid “double-bunking” with incumbent Guilford representative John Faircloth, Hardister moved, even though he says he believes the “seats don’t belong to us, they belong to the people.” After both the 2011 and 2017 legislative maps were struck down by the courts, Hardister said he believed the maps were “in compliance with the law.” He also helped draw the 2016 congressional maps that were later thrown out in court. When Sen. Trudy Wade tried to pass a Greensboro City Council redistricting bill, Hardister said he would oppose the bill. He “caved when it counted,” changing his vote at the last minute.

Read more here.

Photo: Greensboro News & Record
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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover)

Rep. Holly Grange is a rising star in the Republican Party and was quickly made Deputy Conference Leader by her Republican cohorts. Grange’s stardom is not surprising, she has been a reliable vote for leadership’s agenda since being appointed by McCrory.

Grange is also a reliable vote for laws that benefit out of state corporations. She prioritized tax breaks for corporations over raising teacher pay to the national average. Meanwhile, classroom spending remains below pre-recession levels with teachers spending thousands out of pocket on necessary supplies not covered by state budgets. More than half of those same teachers are forced to work a second job to make ends meet as teacher pay remains nearly $10,000 below the national average.

Grange’s votes aren’t just harmful in our classrooms. She voted to dismantle health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions while North Carolinians face some of the most expensive health care in the nation.

While dismantling health care and cutting funding for public schools, Grange gave Chemours lobbyists pet provisions in the 2018 budget even after chairing the committee tasked with handling the GenX crisis and protecting rivers from future problems. Instead of helping the people of New Hanover county clean up GenX, Grange sided with corporations while people’s water bills increased.

Click here for more about Grange's record.

Photo: NC Channel

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North Carolina Legislator Profile Update: Rep. Mike Clampitt (R-Haywood, Jackson, Swain)

Mike Clampitt is currently serving his first term in the NC House of Representatives for HD119 and lives in Bryson City, NC.Before finally winning election to the General Assembly in 2016, Clampitt ran unsuccessfully for public office several times. Losing twice in races for NC House and losing a 2010 bid for the Swain County Board of Commissioners.

North Carolina public schools are the largest employer in most of Clampitt’s district. Despite this, he supported bills that shortchange teachers and prioritize tax cuts for the wealthy over funding classrooms. Despite not being in office, he was an outspoken supporter of the 2013 budget, even though he was not in office. Clampitt voted for the 2017 budget which prioritized tax cuts for corporations over raising teacher pay and per pupil spending, forcing teachers to pay out of pocket for classroom supplies.

Clampitt voted to block an amendment that would have expanded access to health care for low-income, rural North Carolinians. He has the wrong priorities, voting for policies that benefit wealthy corporate interests over the people of HD119 who are working hard to make ends meet. All three counties Clampitt represents have a higher percent poverty rate than the statewide average along with a higher childhood poverty rate and a lower median income.

Clampitt voted for bills that roll back environmental protections, putting North Carolina’s natural resources and drinking water in jeopardy. He voted in favor of the “garbage juice” bill and for other bills that make it easier for large corporations to pollute North Carolina’s air, soil, and water.

Read on for more about Clampitt’s record during his first term in the NC House.

“Clampitt said that if elected he would not support more dollars for schools.” -Sylva Herald, 12/27/13

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The State of Public Education in NC: Racial Inequity

Last week, we published a report highlighting the erosion of North Carolina's public education system following the 2008 recession and the 2010 Republican takeover in the General Assembly. Today, we look further into the state of racial equity in public schools around the state and explore how disparities in race and socioeconomic status have caused students of color to fall further behind. 

In North Carolina, the achievement gap between wealthy and low-income students widened more than any other state between 2011 and 2014. This has been partially due to the resegregation of school districts as desegregation tactics have been abandoned in favor of the "neighborhood school" model.

North Carolina charter schools have further segregated students.

Students of color have disparately higher rates of punishment, such as short- and long-term suspension, than white students.

Students of color underperform their white counterparts in nearly every educational metric, even when controlling for factors like economic disparities and limited language proficiency.

See the full report here

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The State of Public Education in NC: What you should know

The state of public education in North Carolina has yet to improve following rollbacks caused by the recession of 2008. Since coming to power in 2010, Republicans have made policy changes that have further eroded North Carolina’s public education system:

Teacher pay in North Carolina has not increased in any meaningful way over the past several years.

  •  As of 2018, North Carolina’s teachers have an average salary $9,600 less than the national average.
  • This puts North Carolina at 37th in the nation for average teacher pay—16 spots lower than the 2001-2002 school year.

Per pupil spending has remained consistently low while Republicans in the General Assembly have prioritized tax cuts for corporations.

  • According to an annual report released by the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 39th in the nation in per-pupil spending this year
  • North Carolina now spends around $2,400 less per-pupil than the national average per-pupil

Cuts to school supplies are passed on to teachers and parents:

  • Teachers spend between $500 and $1,000 out-of-pocket on classroom supplies,
  • The average family with elementary-age children pays $650 per child on school supplies.
  • The average family with middle schoolers spend $1,000 per child on school supplies.
  • The average family with high school students spends $1,500 per child.

In North Carolina, the achievement gap between wealthy and low-income students widened more than any other state between 2011 and 2014.

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