Anyone who has read a newspaper or listened to a newscast over the past five or six months knows North Carolina has a budget problem.
A massive one.
Of course, anyone who was paying much attention over the past decade or so could tell you this was inevitable. Raiding set-aside funds to meet general budget expenses, hiring and paying people to do the job of someone who has already been elected and is still being paid, letting governor’s spouses get six-figure income government jobs for which they are not qualified, frittering away tax money on pork barrel projects throughout the state ... the list is seemingly endless.
The problem with such poor governmental practices is that, somewhere along the line, the bill comes due. Gov. Bev Purdue came into office and has been facing a projected $3 billion shortfall in the state budget. This means all sorts of political maneuvers by the governor and both the Republican and Democratic parties to make it appear progress is being made.
It also means some tough, and potentially unpopular, choices.
One of those choices being considered, apparently, is the potential for reducing school years by several days.
What an awful idea.
Not because it wouldn’t be an effective cost-saving measure, because it might. But the legislators, in looking at cost reductions, need to see more than simple dollars and cents. They need to consider the effect of such cuts. While some North Carolina public schools are doing well, others aren’t, and it’s probably safe to say the public is not satisfied with the public school system as a whole across the state.
Is cutting nearly 3 percent of instruction time likely to make the schools better?
Educating the state’s children isn’t one of those trial and error projects, there aren’t any do-overs. You get it right, or you lose part of a generation. Not to sound too melodramatic, but the truth is every year a segment of the state’s public school student body can be essentially lost to the education process if the schools aren’t allowed to give challenging, strong, effective instruction.
Cutting the budget, as the state has already done, and cutting teacher pay, as state officials also have done, does not help the process. Eliminating actual classroom time would almost certainly hurt efforts to teach the state’s youth, and could mean losing part of them.
This is one proposal which should die a quick death.