In North Carolina, this subject has been out of the limelight for a few months, but it is too important to let it slip through the cracks and be forgotten. Raleigh and Durham seem to constantly show up on the high end of “the Best of” lists. That is what led my wife and I to move here 7 years ago. The job opportunities and the great education system that could be followed from Kindergarten to the many fine Universities in the area. This North Carolina education system, especially in the Triangle, is a huge reason that many people have been, and continue to, move to this area.
Unfortunately, the continued budget cuts that have been hitting our education system in one way or another for the past 5 or 6 years will have a definite negative affect on the future growth in this area. Will the executives of new companies that NC tries to court here want a poor education system for their children? What teachers will want to come here knowing that their pay is one of the lowest in the country, and the chances of raises will continue to be grave as the last 5 years have proven. How the people of this area have let this happen is truly amazing. The new business model of State government seems to lean toward a corporate business model, but what success can come from cutting the general education budget, paying teachers poorly and perhaps worse of all, eliminating the pay raise that teachers were given by completing their graduate degrees?
Cutting the North Carolina education budget North Carolina education budget just does not make sense when, the Triangle area of North Carolina continues to grow at a rapid pace. A sane person would deduct that a growing population would require a growing education budget, yet the NC Legislature approved a budget removing $482 million from the education budget over the next two years. This will not only result in fewer resources in general, but the elimination of many teachers and teacher’s assistants. The only result of this action will be larger student to teacher ratios and more students slipping through the cracks to failure. Throwing money at a problem may not be the answer, but across the board budget cuts certainly is not either.
As a State employee (not a teacher), I can vouch for the fact that State employees have had one raise in the last 5 years. This is not going to be a selling point to begin with in bringing the brightest and best teachers to North Carolina. The resulting salaries are even worse though. North Carolina now ranks 46th in the country for teacher pay. Not a good way to recruit teachers or convince our best students to move into the education field. If North Carolina wants to be a tech hub, it needs to pay its educators accordingly or lose its best performing teachers.
Lastly, the elimination of bonuses/raises for teachers attaining their graduate degree may be the most ridiculous decision made by the current government in North Carolina. Why would you want to eliminate an incentive for the self-improvement of those that will be teaching our children? In every other field on earth, your pay is directly related to how much you know, yet this Legislature has decided teachers should not be? Brilliant! To make it worse, this bonus elimination was imposed on those that were already in the process of completing their degree, so the money they spent in hopes of improving themselves educationally and financially were all for naught. Eliminating these bonuses is no way to keep our education system improving; in fact, it will breed a stagnant learning environment.
As can be seen from this brief look into North Carolina’s new education budget, things are not looking good. In fact, they are looking pretty dire. Many of the reasons that so many have relocated to this area are in jeopardy due to the decisions of a few old men. We as citizens and voters need to continue to push for more money to be funneled into our schools. We cannot wait until the next elections or the next budget; our children are too important. We are destined to lose our best teachers if the salaries of perhaps our most important resource are not increased to a level that is more in line with the higher end of the states. Finally, the elimination of bonuses for educating our educators makes no sense and should be lifted. If North Carolina does not place the proper resources into its education system, I truly fear for the future of our children.