August 20, 2013
This newspaper, because of some sloppy reporting, threw some gasoline on a flame last week, a blaze we attempted to put out on Tuesday with a page 1A story — and today’s Our View is another attempt to toss more water on that fire.
A headline in our newspaper a week ago today screamed “Schools: Teachers lost to cuts.” The headline was attached to a story about a meeting of the Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County, during which state budget cuts were discussed, cuts that were cited for the loss of 82.5 teaching positions.
That worried local teachers who feared they would not have employment, and parents and students who worried that there would be no one at the chalkboard.
The mistake this newspaper made was that no teaching positions were in fact being lost, and that other money was found to make sure there will be teachers in every classroom — 1,693 we are told — when 24,000 students begin classes on Monday. The administration and the Board of Education have been adamant that their strategy is to make sure no teachers lose their jobs — and that appears to have been managed despite the loss of millions of dollars of state funding. They should be commended.
We are sorry that we caused the confusion — and the timing could hardly have been worse.
Education is a touchy subject in North Carolina now, the talk at the water cooler, and it’s not only because school begins in five days. North Carolina, for the first time in forever, is under the leadership of Republicans, not only in the General Assembly, but also in the governor’s mansion, meaning there is little resistance to new initiatives, such as the elimination of teacher tenure, the widening of the door for charter schools, and the absence of a pay raise for our teachers.
There has been plenty of noise about funding for education being cut, but the truth is that never before has North Carolina allocated as much money for education as it did this year, about half of the entire state budget.
Critics, driven by an agenda, are telling anyone who will listen that Republicans are hostile toward education and something that has worked in North Carolina is being dismantled. Republicans have countered that the state’s education system was already broken, an assertion that the evidence supports, and they are trying new approaches to lingering problems.
Regrettably, our reporting and our headline last week only muddied the water.
We believe that time will answer all the questions about GOP initiatives regarding our educational systems — and certainly not enough of it has passed to make any conclusions.