Senator Jerry Tillman
Senate Majority Whip
August 5, 2013
The Facts About Public K-12 Education Spending and Reform
· We’ve heard a lot of overblown rhetoric and misinformation from those interested in preserving the status quo in education – mostly focused on the state budget.
· For some, success is measured by money spent. And for those people, the raw data disproves many of the claims of dire cutbacks.
· Here are the facts about our education budget:
· First, contrary to what some are saying, our budget protects and even expands funding for public education, despite out-of-control costs in Medicaid.
· It invests over $300 million more in our public schools than the budget we passed last year – more than a four percent increase.
· That means we’re spending nearly $11.5 BILLION on public education and $7.9 BILLION on our K-12 system – or over half of our state budget.
· It fully funds enrollment growth in K-12, community colleges and the university system.
· And while we were unfortunately unable to provide salary increases this year, keep in mind that during our first term as leaders of the General Assembly, Republicans gave teachers and other state employees their first raise in five years.
· But simply investing more dollars into our system is not enough. Progress must be measured not on how much we spend, but on results.
· Reforming education is about changing the establishment philosophy – moving away from the status quo and toward a metric that values the results we see from our schools, teachers and students.
· Last year, we began moving the needle on education reform. This year, we delivered on our promise by fully implementing the Excellent Public Schools Act and provisions that:
1. Strengthen student literacy to improve reading achievement and graduation rates,
2. Give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their children's education, and
3. Increase classroom accountability while rewarding our most effective teachers.
· It’s widely agreed that the single-most important factor in enhancing student academic growth is a high quality teacher. And North Carolina is blessed with some of the best teachers in the country – we lead the nation in national board certified teachers.
· The overwhelming majority of our educators are top-notch, and they’re invaluable to the success of our children. Those teachers should be recognized and rewarded. But administrators also need the ability to make sure the handful of underperforming teachers either improve or find new professions.
· That’s why tenure as we know it will be completely reformed under the Excellent Public Schools Act. Instead of granting permanent job-security to all after a few years in the classroom, teachers will work under contracts that are renewed based on performance – like nearly every other profession.
· Our focus shouldn’t be on ensuring that bad teachers keep their jobs. Rather, it must be on making sure students can get a job after they graduate.
· At the same time, we are recognizing and rewarding our most effective teachers through a pay for excellence system. Our budget includes $10.2 million to begin that process and fund annual pay raises for the best teachers based on data and evaluations.
· Beginning in 2014, the top 25 percent of teachers identified by their local school boards will receive four-year contracts with built-in annual increases. That means over the next four years, those highly effective teachers will earn an additional $5,000 through a permanent salary increase.
· And that’s just the first step in our commitment to implementing a strong pay for excellence system to take care of our best teachers.
· While we are moving in the right direction, the fact remains 1 in 5 North Carolina students do not graduate from high school. It is clear our students deserve better than the status quo in education.
· Change is not always easy, but we must remain focused on solutions that enable our students to reach their full potential.
· The Excellent Public Schools Act honors our pledge to recognize and reward our state’s many outstanding teachers, maintains our commitment to identify and improve struggling schools and – most importantly – upholds our promise to prepare our children for future success.
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Senator Jerry Tillman
Senate Majority Whip
627 Legislative Office Building
Raleigh, NC 27601-2808