Election 2012 Issue Brief - Adequate Funding for Public Education

Background

School Funding: North Carolina legislators have made deep cuts to spending on public education in recent years—even as the state’s population of school-age children continues to grow.

  • As of 2010, North Carolina was 47th nationally in the amount of state funding for schools per pupil. North Carolina has long been in the bottom 10 states in per-pupil funding.
  • The state budget passed in 2011 further reduced education funding by more than $459 million.
  • These budget cuts make it challenging if not impossible for North Carolina to live up to the commitment made in the state constitution to provide every student with a sound basic education.

Teachers: The importance of quality teachers to the success of students has long been established. However, the 2011 budget eliminated the Teaching Fellows program and teacher mentoring program, both of which help young teachers to become successful. In addition, budget cuts have reduced much of the support teachers receive in and out of the classroom.

  • The budget eliminated funding for more than 2,000 teacher-assistant positions for the 2012-13 school year. Teacher assistants provide critical support to teachers and individual attention to students.
  • Because of state funding cuts, local schools had to eliminate more than 900 teaching position this school year and cut many administrative and support positions that help teachers do their jobs well.

Services: The state budget reduced funds available for transportation, making it difficult for districts to buy and maintain buses. The state also cut funds for textbooks, forcing many students to go without books or use outdated ones.

Pre-Kindergarten: Research studies, including recent studies from Duke and UNC, consistently find that quality early childhood education programs dramatically improve the performance of all students and ensure that students who have disabilities or live in poverty come to kindergarten with the necessary skills. North Carolina has been a leader in the development of early childhood education programs and has a national reputation for the quality of its programs. But the 2011 state budget dramatically cut funding for these programs, depriving more than 6,000 young children of the much-needed opportunity to build skills and prepare for school.

 

Questions for Candidates

  • Are you content to see North Carolina rank at the bottom nationally in state support for education? If not, how will you work to increase state funding for education?
  • Do you support strong early childhood education programs? Will you ensure that all at-risk children can participate in quality early childhood programs?
  • Will you restore funds for teachers and teacher assistants that were cut in the 2011 state budget?
  • Will you restore funding for the Teaching Fellows program?
  • Do you believe that all students, even undocumented students, deserve a free public education?
Research & Publications: