With the state of North Carolina facing an estimated $2.4 million budget shortfall, Governor Bev Perdue pledged last night in her state of the state address to protect teacher and teacher assistant positions. But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) superintendent Peter Gormon isn’t buying it. Gormon still projects a $100 million shortfall and the elimination of roughly 1500 jobs (over 600 teachers) for CMS. Given that Gov Perdue has not yet said how she will protect teacher and teacher assistant jobs, Gorman is probably wise. With cuts to other areas of the state budget, Perdue may be able to salvage a significant number of teaching jobs across the state, but given the severity of the projected budget shortfall, I think it would be more than a stretch to think that she can save them all. But maybe I’m the pessimist. I hope I am wrong and Gov. Perdue does in fact pull a rabbit out of her hat. North Carolina’s children and schools could sure use it.
In response to a looming significant state budget shortfall, The University of North Carolina General Administration released a memorandum last week call for the discontinuation of 60 degree programs across the state. I have included the link to the memorandum here for your viewing.
I should note that an alarming number of the programs to be discontinued are educator preparation degree programs that will soon be offered as concentrations within degree programs in the the content subject areas. For example, at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC), the bachelor’s degree in History Education will be discontinued, but teacher licensure for middle grades and secondary history will continue to be offered through the bachelor’s degree program in History.
I believe what we are seeing in North Carolina is not isolated. In fact, I believe it is a trend. Other university systems and universities across the US have already eliminated educator preparation degree programs in the wake of budget shortfalls, and others across the country will likely follow suit. As this happens, I believe we will continue to see educator licensure degree programs eliminated from colleges of education and placed as concentrations or degree options in content area degree programs in colleges or arts and sciences, liberal arts, music, etc. If I am correct, we could be seeing the end of colleges of education as we know them.
Del Burns, Superintendent of the Wake County Public Schools (Raleigh, NC), has called for $20 million in cuts to central office to offset a projected budget shortfall in the upcoming 2010-2011 fiscal year. has called for $20 million in cuts to central office to offset a projected budget shortfall in the upcoming 2010-2011 fiscal year. By calling for the cuts at central office, Burns is protecting the district’s classrooms as much as he can. I applaud you Dr. Burns. There is no more important place in the school system than the classroom. As such, direct cuts to classrooms must be an absolute last resort. That’s the stance that Dr. Burns has taken. So even in the midst of these difficult economic times, high quality instruction in Wake County’s classrooms will continue.