Yes, Republican lawmakers passed along a modest raise in this election year, but state teacher pay remains well below the national average.
And now teachers are finding that, thanks to an inadequate increase in funding for school supplies and classroom materials from the General Assembly, they’ll be continuing in a not-so-glorious tradition: going into their own pockets to provide supplies. While the allotment for supplies went up, it remains much less than the per-pupil supply money before the Great Recession.
In addition, the General Assembly abolished the three-day tax-free weekend in August during which many parents, and teachers, bought school supplies.
One teacher interviewed by The News & Observer estimated she spent $200 on school supplies each semester. And in all likelihood, she spends more than that, and even teachers with parents willing to help, which many do, are still buying things that make their classrooms more interesting.
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Teachers try to form wish lists in case parents want to help. That’s fine in schools where there are affluent parents who want to help other kids as well as their own. But there are many schools in North Carolina, starved by inadequate funding, where students simply go without what they need.
The General Assembly can and must do better. And parents, voting parents, should make that abundantly clear to their lawmakers.