The Public School Forum’s Friday Report
PDF versions can be found at www.ncforum.org
Volume 13, Issue 41
May 6, 2011
A Coalition of 39 State and Local Organizations Says
―Our Children Are Worth a Penny‖
Standing on the Capitol lawn, 39 statewide and local organizations representing parents,
educators and community groups, called on the General Assembly to stop slashing state
government by leaving the temporary one-cent sales tax in place for two more years.
Wearing badges that said ―Our Children Are Worth a Penny and We’re Already Paying
It,‖ the leaders of a number of the organizations announced that starting next week delegations
will daily be coming to Raleigh to meet with legislators and that dozens of local and regional
events calling on legislators to prevent deep cuts to education and public services will take place
around the state.
Tom Bradshaw, former Chair of the State Chamber and former Mayor of Raleigh, opened
the news conference by saying, ―The business community wants North Carolina to have world-
We are not going to get and keep good jobs if we go backwards in education.‖
Debra Horton, Executive Director of the North Carolina Parent Teacher Organization
(PTA) said, ―Polls show that given a choice between deep cuts to our schools, colleges and
services and continuing to pay the one-cent tax we already pay, that people of North Carolina
would keep paying it.
It costs the average taxpayer less than a quarter a day and our kids are
worth much more than that.‖
Joe (Coach) White, the President of the North Carolina School Boards Association and
the former Chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board, added, ―The cuts currently
under consideration are going to force local County Commissioners to either cut local services
dramatically or raise local taxes.
What is being considered is a reverse jobs bill – it will add
thousands to the unemployment rolls of counties across the state and drive up the need for more
services to out-of-work citizens.‖
Representing school/business partnerships and foundations, Martha Vick, the Executive
Director of the Wilson Education Partnership, a business and foundation-supported group
supporting schools, added, ―Our education system and the services our local and state
government provide are among the strongest economic development attractions North Carolina
has to offer.
Counties like Wilson are not going to attract good jobs with a mediocre education
system and inadequate public services.‖
―Our Children Are Worth a Penny‖ (cont’d)
Bill McNeal, a former nationally recognized Superintendent of the Year and currently the
Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, closed out the
comments saying, ―This isn’t a fiscal crisis. It’s a crisis of our own making. Taxpayers have
been paying the one-penny sales tax for two years and it costs the average adult less than $90 a
year. That’s a small price to pay for keeping our schools and our public services intact.‖
―North Carolina will only move backwards if we choose to and we don’t believe the
public wants us to turn the clock back on the quality of our schools and public services,‖ McNeal
concluded. ―Being world-class budget-cutters is a far cry from creating world-class school.
Under the budget just passed by the House it will be difficult, if not impossible, for schools to
meet their constitutional obligation to provide all young people a sound basic education.‖
The Quality Schools Coalition announcement was the second to call for extending the
one-penny sales tax.
Earlier in the week thousands of teachers and parents rallied in Raleigh
with the same message.
As the just-passed House budget which cuts $1.2 billion from the state’s
schools and colleges goes to the State Senate, it is expected that there will be more events in
Raleigh and around the state as localities begin to hear what the cuts will mean to their
Support for Tax Extension Climbs
According to a recent poll conducted for Citizens for Higher Education, a PAC formed
by university boosters, most North Carolina voters want to keep a temporary one-cent sales tax if
it spares education from significant state budget cuts.
The poll by Public Opinion Strategies, a
national Republican political and public affairs firm, shows support for the tax and education
cuts across party lines and parenthood status. The GOP-led legislature has been adamant about
letting the one-cent sales tax increase expire. The House budget approved this week includes a
15.5 percent cut to the university system and an 8.8 percent cut to K-12 schools.
The poll found that 73 percent opposed a 15.5 percent cut to universities. Broken down
by party affiliation, 65 percent of registered Republicans oppose such a cut, along with 74
percent of independents and 79 percent of registered Democrats. Sixty percent of respondents
said they would oppose a 10 percent cut. And 65 percent said they would be less likely to
support a lawmaker who backed such cuts. The poll found that 78 percent said they would
support keeping the one-cent sales tax increase if the money was used to limit cuts to public
schools, community colleges, and universities. Seventy-three percent of Republicans, 78 percent
of independents, and 80 percent of Democrats support keeping the tax. The telephone survey of
500 registered voters was conducted on April 13 and April 14. The margin of error was plus or
minus 4.38 percentage points.
House Passes Budget; It’s In the Senate’s Hands
The House passed its budget on Wednesday by a vote of 72-47. The $19.3 billion
spending plan for next year is now in the hands of the Senate. Five Democrats joined
Republicans in voting for the GOP plan, indicating the possibility that the Republicans could
have enough votes to over-ride a potential veto by Governor Beverly Perdue. The bill now goes
to the Senate, which will create its own budget version that's likely to tinker with the balance of
cuts between the universities and the public schools. The Senate's Republican majority has the
votes to over-ride a veto if the Republicans remain unified and there is no reason to think they
Democratic legislators in the House continue to argue that more than 20,000 jobs could
be lost in the House budget. Republican legislators contend that number is exaggerated.
However, the unknown is the fact that school systems have to deal with a $42 million ―flexible
reduction‖ passed on to them in the House budget. It is difficult to predict now where the
superintendents/school boards will take their cuts. One thing is for sure. Most of them have long
ago taken cuts that were not positions. Most likely, it will be real people in real jobs that will
have to be cut.
The lynchpin of the House budget is the expiration of a pair of temporary tax increases —
an extra penny on the sales tax and higher income tax bills for top wage earners. Republicans ran
on doing away with the taxes during the fall campaign and their expiration will result in at least
$1.3 billion in lost revenues. The plan spends $650 million less than Perdue proposed for the
coming year in the public schools, the University of North Carolina system and community
college system and 11 percent less than what was required to keep services running at current
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said this week he expected the
Senate version would spend less overall compared to the House bill when it comes to meeting
spending targets set by Republicans leaders in both chambers in February. The Senate also is
likely to rework the level of reductions in the public schools and the UNC system, said Sen. Pete
Brunstetter, D-Forsyth, a co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said UNC
system cuts of more than 15 percent will probably be lower at the expense of the public schools,
which saw a 9 percent decrease. This does not bode well for K-12 schools in North Carolina.
The budget plan approved by the House this week would make the State Board of
Education -- not local boards -- responsible for setting policy on how impending school layoffs
will be handled. Rep. Bryan Holloway, one of the House's chief budget-writers for education
issues, said the departure from the Republican ideal of local control came because lawmakers
wanted to make rules on how layoffs are carried out as uniform as possible statewide. "We just
want them to put a policy out there that says the same thing," said Holloway, R-Stokes, a former
teacher. The House budget also would strip the right of tenured teachers to be the first rehired
after a layoff, and directs school administrators to consider "work performance" when laying off
people in similar positions.
Concepts from Forum Study ―Our Kids Won’t Wait…‖
in Senate Bill 724
Sen. Josh Stein presented a PCS (Proposed Committee Substitute) for SB 724 in the
Senate Education/Higher Education Committee on Wednesday. Committee Co-Chair Sen. Jerry
Tillman is the co-sponsor of the bill. Other bill sponsors are Blake, Brock, Brown, Brunstetter,
Daniel, Hartsell, Hise, Hunt, Purcell, Rucho, Soucek, and Stevens.
Sen. Stein opened by saying the ideas for the bill came from the Public School Forum’s
study ―Our Kids Won’t Wait…‖ He said that given the economic situation in our state right now,
he and Sen. Tillman wanted to propose ideas that could bring success without spending money
now. He pointed out that North Carolina had to increase the length of our school year and school
day especially for children in the 25 high schools with the highest dropout rates and for the
children in feeder schools to those high schools. He used the example about the number of
months (and years) we are ―spotting‖ students in other countries in math instruction given the
number of additional days in their school year multiplied over the years of schooling. He pointed
out that most all of these countries are ahead of us in North Carolina (and the US) in
international rankings. After his explanation of the bill, many of the senators present made
positive comments about the bill.
Specifically, Senate Bill 724: 1)Increases academic requirements regarding reading,
mathematics, and student assessments in teacher education programs; 2) Requires student
achievement data to be used to make course placement decisions; 3) Requires local school
boards to create transition teams and plans to help students at risk for academic failure; 5) Phases
in lengthened school day/year for students in high schools with highest dropout rates, and in their
feeder elementary and middle schools, available funds permitting, and based on State Board of
Education recommendations; and, 6) Requires the State Board of education to study graduation
requirements for students not planning to go to college and report study results to the Joint
Legislative Oversight Committee by march 15, 2012. We will follow the bill closely as it moves
through the Senate.
Forum Executive Director Honored
The Forum’s Executive Director Jo Ann Norris was honored on Sunday, May 1, in the
presence of over 300 attendees of the Eta State Convention in Rocky Mount by being named
the 2011 Founders Award recipient. Eta State is the North Carolina Organization of the Delta
Kappa Gamma Society International. The organization gives the Founders Award every two
years to a North Carolina woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the
improvement of the quality of human life through education, research, publications, or service.
According to the newly installed Eta State President Linda Little, the contribution must exceed
local and regional levels. Norris was nominated by Mrs. Angela Upchurch, a principal in
Gaston County. Little and Upchurch are both members of the NC Teaching Fellows
Forum Executive Director Honored (cont’d)
Norris follows Betty McCain, 2009 Founders Award recipient, and keynote speaker at the
convention. Other well-known recipients include Dr. Laura Anderton, professor of Biology and
Director of the Citogenetics Laboratory at the University of NC at Greensboro; Nancy Chase,
leader in the Farm Bureau and prominently involved in civic, political, and cultural life. She
served 18 years in the General Assembly; Mary Cornwell, founder and director of the Village of
Yesteryear at the NC State Fair; Cora Paul Bomar, head of the Dept. of Library and Information
Services in the School of Education at UNC-G; Phebe Emmons, known for her leadership as
director of professional services and student programs of the NCAE; Ethel Twiford;
Cone, served as chancellor of UNC-Charlotte; Dr. Eloise Lewis, first person to receive an earned
doctorate at Duke. Developed the nursing program at UNC-G; Dr. Betty Wiser, served as
president of the League of Women Voters and was a member of the House of Representatives;
Mary Garber, broke the ground as a woman journalist and stood firmly to disallow gender
discrimination from defining limitations. She’s in the US Basketball Hall of Fame; Dr. Lois
Edinger, taught for for 26 yrs. at UNC-G and president of the National Edu. Assoc.; Betty
McCain, Sec. of the NC Dept. of Cultural Resources…; Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall; Dr.
Barbara Day, first TF Director at UNC-CH.
In her acceptance remarks, Norris noted how pleased she was to be in the company of
such outstanding North Carolina women leaders and especially her former college professor at
the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (formerly the Woman’s College), and past
president of the National Education Association, Dr. Lois Edinger.
The Real Impact of Teaching Assistant Cuts
In a letter to members of the General Assembly, Eddie Ingram, the Superintendent of
Franklin County Schools very thoughtfully (and thoroughly) shared with them the real impact of
proposed cuts to teacher assistants.
His letter illustrates the unintended, and potentially long-
term, impact of the proposed cuts:
I am concerned that the General Assembly doesn’t fully understand funding for teacher
I have been working with our Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance, Mr.
Doug Moore on this issue, and I want to share the dilemma in Franklin County Schools
regarding teacher assistants.
The Real Impact of Teaching Assistant Cuts (cont’d)
Although the state, in theory, funds teacher assistants K-3, the current allotment
of $1,131.29 per student in K-3 does not equal
a teacher assistant in each K-3
So please don’t think that it does. The average annual cost of a
teacher assistant (salary and benefits) is approximately $29,500.
I will illustrate
how this affects Franklin County Schools after I outline three other points.
About 40 % of our teacher assistants also drive buses.
This extra duty pushes
the assistants into overtime that we have to pay as prescribed by federal law.
The overtime cost for Franklin County Schools equates to approximately 1.56
teacher assistant positions or $46,000, which we have to pay out of the 2010-11
teacher assistant allotment of 3,123,258.
That leaves us a total of $3,077,258 for
salaries or about 104 potential teacher assistant positions.
State allotted teacher assistant positions also must support exceptional
This year, that requires about 10 positions for
exceptional children’s classrooms in our district.
Due to the fragile nature of
some of the classes, more than one assistant is required.
We use state allotted teacher assistant positions for elementary media centers, 8
positions in our county.
In 2010-2011, Franklin County has a teacher assistant in each of our 35 kindergarten
classrooms, a teacher assistant in each of our 34 first grade classrooms, 17 assistants shared
among 35 second grade classrooms, and NO teacher assistants in 36 third grade classrooms.
Even if we took out our 8 media assistants and put them in the second grade, we still would not
have a teacher assistant in each second grade classroom and none in the 36 third grade
We can’t take teacher assistants away from exceptional children’s classrooms.
That would be illegal and irresponsible.
Many people erroneously believe when it is said that
the state currently funds assistants for k-3 classrooms, that every class at these four
THIS IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN THE CASE.
I have worked in several
school districts in this state during my 30 year career, and I know of no district that has
assistants in every third grade classroom, even in districts that employ significant numbers of
teacher assistants with local funds.
The proposed cut to teacher assistants will have a devastating effect in Franklin County.
only will we experience even greater difficulty in finding enough bus drivers for our 102 buses,
but we will likely have only a teacher assistant in every kindergarten, and maybe 23% of our first
grade classrooms, yet the state will tout that it has funded assistants for kindergarten and 1
The Real Impact of Teaching Assistant Cuts (cont’d)
Next year, we will use our ONE TIME
Edu-Jobs money (about 1.7 million) to protect as many
positions as we can.
We will have the unpleasant task of deciding whether to give life support to
our teacher assistants, custodial staff, or clerical staff.
We will not be able to cover all three
Please remember, that teacher assistants, custodians, and clerical workers in
our public schools are most often life-long residents of their communities, and those in the
smaller rural areas will less likely be able to find private sector jobs that carry health insurance
and retirement benefits
these employees provide valuable services to our
children and the absence of their services will have a huge negative impact on the efficient and
effective operations of our public schools.
With that said, the citizens of North Carolina need and deserve for our General Assembly to
recognize that a “cuts only” mentality is only going to erase many improvements that we have
witnessed in the last 30 years in public education.
This budget proposal clearly, under the guise of “fiscal responsibility,” appears to be designed
to dismantle public education.
Diverting public money for charter schools that don’t offer
transportation or food service which effectively excludes disenfranchised populations of
children, and giving tax credits for private education without accountability is simply wrong.
Many of the proposed education cuts could be made less painful if we would simply continue the
penny sales tax that is set to expire June 30, 2011.
Our state and our children are worth the
I do appreciate the enormous responsibility you bear.
Please reconsider your positions should
the governor veto the budget proposal in its current or similar form.
Across the State . . .
Union County Principal Named
2011-12 Principal of the Year
Cuthbertson High School Principal Rob Jackson tonight was named the 2011 Wells
Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year during a dinner ceremony held in Cary. The Union
County Schools' principal succeeds Glenn Marlow Elementary School (Henderson County
Schools) Principal Jan King.
State Superintendent June Atkinson commended Jackson on his selection saying, "I'm
continually impressed by the instructional leaders in our public schools. Rob exemplifies what it
takes to be a great leader: dedication to his staff's success, genuine interest in each student,
faithfulness to community involvement, and a driving commitment to academic achievement."
2011-12 Principal of the Year (cont’d)
Jackson received an Associate of Arts degree from Asheville-Buncombe Technical
Community College in 1993, a Bachelor of Science in Education from Western Carolina
University in 1995, a Master's of School Administration from Western Carolina University in
2000, and is expecting to earn a Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern
University this July. During his career, he has served in the Navy, as a SIMS secretary, a
classroom teacher, an assistant principal and now principal. He has participated in a number of
programs that benefit his profession including the Leadership Program for New Principals,
Principals as Technology Leaders, School Administrators as Instructional Leaders, Leadership
Program for Experienced Principals, Facilitative Leadership and Total Quality Education.
Jackson will receive an additional $3,000 for his school and $3,000 for personal use.
Thanks to EF Education First, a privately-held company that offers a range of education
programs from language training, educational travel and academic degrees to cultural exchanges,
Jackson will be the first North Carolina Principal of the Year to receive a scholarship for a 10-
day educational tour of China. He also will be appointed to the State Superintendent's Principals'
Advisory Committee, serve a one-year term as advisor to the State Board of Education, serve a
one-year term on the Board of Directors for the NC Public School Forum, and will chair the
2012 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Selection Committee.
The Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year program is sponsored in
partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. In its 27th year, the
program provides a unique opportunity to recognize outstanding principals from North Carolina
Ohio Moves Forward with Performance-Based System
Ohio's new law to limit collective bargaining for public workers could make it the first
state with a mandatory system to pay teachers based on their performance.
The measure passed
by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Governor John Kasich bans strikes by public
workers and replaces automatic pay increases with merit raises or performance pay. According to
The Plain Dealer
, the measure eliminates salary schedules and step increases of 110,000 full-
time public teachers in the state.
A Colorado school district that made a similar change in pay systems has found success,
said Kathy Christie, chief of staff for the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, and
other schools throughout the country have tried linking student achievement to staff bonuses,
though teachers were guaranteed any pay raises outlined in their contracts.
A handful of states
have tried performance-based pay programs, but Christie said many have had trouble finding an
equitable way to offer pay raises for everyone while giving some merit pay.
Ohio Moves Forward (cont’d)
If the Ohio law remains in place, state officials would develop new standards to evaluate
teacher performance, and student achievement would constitute half of an educator's evaluation,
affecting whether any pay raise is awarded.
Did You Know…
Huge Populations Shift Mean Redistricting Maps
Will Change Political Landscape
Business North Carolina
highlighted the dramatic population shifts that are going to
change North Carolina’s political landscape. Every ten years states are required to change their
political boundaries based on census data.
As a result of the massive influx of people coming to
North Carolina, few states will see changes to their political alignment as extreme as those that
will come to North Carolina.
Urban areas will be the big winners and rural North Carolina will
see a loss in political clout.
Changes in county population make that clear:
When looking at the growth in urban areas over the last decade, it is more evident that the
State’s political landscape is going to see a major shift:
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