Backpack? (Check!) Number 2 pencils? (Check!) Crayons and Kleenex? (Check!)
It’s back-to-school time and with it comes the always fun school supply shopping trip! Over the next few weeks many of us will find ourselves crowded into the aisles of our local stores, looking for the best deals on notebooks and pencils as we try to make sure our kids have everything they need to start the year off right.
But what our kids need most for a successful year won’t be found on those lists or in the stores.
It's the teachers, the assistants, the counselors, the cafeteria workers, and the custodians who make our schools good places to be and ensure that our kids succeed.
Unfortunately, those are exactly the “supplies” that our state legislators decided weren’t so important earlier this summer when they approved a state budget cutting nearly a billion dollars from public education.[i]
As children head back to school, NC MomsRising is creating a “school supply” list of our own to share with NC lawmakers. Can you help us make our list?
Share your stories of how you’re already seeing budget cuts impact education in your community and what you’d put on the “must-have” school supply list if you were writing NC’s budget. We’ll share your stories with lawmakers and media covering how the budget cuts are impacting education.
How is the budget impacting education?
North Carolina wasn’t a big spender on public schools even before the budget cuts. The Charlotte Observer reports that in 2009-10, North Carolina ranked 44th in the country, with per-pupil spending of $8,529, compared to the U.S. average of $10,586, according to a study by the National Education Association. But spending here has dropped since then, according to 2010-11 estimates from the NEA. Those estimates show North Carolina at $8,303 in per-pupil spending, compared to the U.S. average of $10,826. That would put North Carolina at 45th or 46th[ii] But it’s expected that the full impact of the budget cuts is expected to drop NC to 49th in the nation, just behind Mississippi.[iii]
Since the budget went into effect in July, 11,800 local government jobs have been lost, a majority of which involved teachers and others in education, according to the Employment Security Commission. In fact, 4,300 classroom positions were eliminated. [iv]
Even communities that were able to avoid direct cuts to teachers and assistants in the classroom will feel the impact as cuts mean classrooms are cleaned less frequently, thermostats are readjusted to save money, and school supply lists get longer.[v]
The budget approved by NC lawmakers cut school supply budgets by 46% at a time when many teachers were already reaching into their own pockets to buy supplies for their classrooms.[vi]
And cuts to funds for buses will likely mean rides to school will take longer with greater risk for breakdowns.[vii]
According to the NC Budget & Tax Center, the FY11-12 state budget cuts the amount of money available to run NC’s 2,515 schools by $2.5 million per school day
We count on our schools to prepare our children for the future and to build a workforce in North Carolina that can compete in a global market. When NC lawmakers fail to invest appropriately in education, they fail our children and our state.
Join us in letting NC lawmakers know that at back-to-school time, we’re thinking of them and wishing that they had checked their school supply list more carefully before passing a budget that failed NC families.
Also, on Thursday, September 15 at 10 AM, we'll be meeting with our kids in front of the NC General Assembly in downtown Raleigh to personally deliver giant "school supplies" lists to our state's legislative leadership bearing the stories of MomsRising members from all over the state. Afterwards, we'll head across the street to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences for lunch and fun for the kids. Join us! For more information, e-mail Beth@momsrising.org.
[i] BTC Reports, North Carolina Justice Center
[ii] "NC is no leader in education spending," Charlotte Observer
[iv] "State Cuts Boost Joblessness," Newsobserver.com
[v] "Meeting Students' Needs After State Education Budget Cuts," Carolina Parent
[vi] BTC Reports, North Carolina Justice Center
[vii] BTC Reports, North Carolina Justice Center