How can we have a productive society if we’re not educating our children?
In the past, North Carolina had one of the foremost public education systems. We must regain that status if we are going to be credible with communities and it’s corporate citizens. It’s imperative that we show businesses that we have a prepared workforce to help them grow. We must invest in public education. That’s also our constitutional responsibility in the General Assembly.
The tax cuts that my Republican counterparts put in the budget this year that by the year 2021, will be $1.7 billion. Today, we are the 9th most populous state—our growth curve looks like a hockey stick —so the state has incredible needs.
For a state that’s growing like North Carolina is, it’s a major failing of this legislature to value tax cuts for big business and the wealthiest among us over the education of our children. It’s irresponsible. There’s so much to do, and we must all get involved to make it a viable system.
Class sizes and the quality of the education experience needs to be uniform across all schools. Whether through the funding of Teaching Assistants or by working to ensure that all students have the materials, resources, and teachers needed.
Speaking of teachers, we must always strive to offer teachers the money needed to stay in their communities and not be lured to other states for better financial opportunities. We must create and support continuing education opportunities. We must give the schools the ability to manage classroom size for the benefit of the student and the teacher. Our teachers are ground zero for our kids and they must be shown respect.
We, in a de-facto manner, have re-segregated our schools. Last year, the North Carolina state budget added another $20 million to the school voucher system, even though the $20 million already in there hadn’t been spent. The Republicans said the voucher program was a very popular program but yet they choose to ignore another very popular program – public schools. I put forth an amendment to not put the additional $20M into vouchers, and instead put that money into nurses, counselors, assistant principals, custodians and other people who work in schools. We must restore and expect accountability in all of our schools.
In the future, 65 percent of our children today will have jobs that do not currently exist. We have to have an education system that’s going to prepare the future adults of this state to be able to provide for themselves. Companies must be provided with talented, skilled, and capable workers to guarantee future growth. As North Carolina continues to grow, it is imperative that our schools, including our community and technical colleges, lead the way in preparing the workforce of the future.