North Carolina: State Mandate to Reduce Class Size Will Cost Loss of Thousands of Teachers

The legislature in North Carolina never tires of finding new ways to mess up their state’s once-greatly admired public schools.

By mandating class size reduction across the state without providing additional funds, districts will be required to send pink slips to thousands of teachers of music, arts, physical education, and teacher assistants.

“We’re not dealing with widgets. We’re dealing with people’s lives and their livelihoods,” says Katherine Joyce, executive director of the N.C. Association of School Administrators (NCASA), an organization that reps public school district leaders at the legislature.

The uncertainty puts at least 5,500 teaching jobs statewide in jeopardy as districts scramble to reallocate resources, according to the NCASA.

That doesn’t include teacher assistant positions, particularly crucial jobs in low-performing schools and districts jettisoned by the thousands in cash-starved districts since 2008. Without major legislative concessions in the coming weeks, K-12 leaders expect many more T.A. jobs will be on the chopping block this year.

One bipartisan-supported reprieve to the looming class size order, House Bill 13, gained unanimous approval in the state House in February, but despite advocates’ calls for urgent action this spring, the legislation has lingered in the Senate Rules Committee with little indication it will be taken up soon.

Sen. Bill Rabon, the influential eastern North Carolina Republican who chairs the committee, did not respond to Policy Watch interview requests, but his legislative assistant said this week that Rabon’s committee will not consider any House bills until the General Assembly’s April 27 crossover deadline….

Regardless, public school leaders say the state’s drive to reduce class sizes comes at a particularly arduous time for districts. With North Carolina teacher pay mired among the lowest in the nation, K-12 experts are reporting major teaching shortages and plummeting interest in teaching degrees in the UNC system.

The legislature, dominated by a super-majority of ultra-conservative Republicans in both houses, is doing its level best to harass teachers and drive students to charter schools and vouchers. Under the guise of “reform,” more teachers and programs will be cut.

from sarah


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