Friday, September 2, 2011

Cutting teachers in a time of student growth

In the Triangle's five school districts, nearly 1,000 positions were eliminated this year, but layoffs numbered 266. Of those, 31 were teachers and 115 were teacher assistants. The layoffs occurred in Johnston, Orange and Wake counties.

It's the first time since the Depression that North Carolina schools have cut teacher positions during a time of enrollment growth, education officials said Wednesday. About 30,000 new students have been added to state schools in the past four to five years.

This is a snapshot from a News and Observer article posted today about cuts to staff positions across the state since 2008-09. Even where teachers aren't losing their jobs, a worthy focus on preserving teaching positions has meant less access to counselors, nurses and other support staff who can be critical to a child's well-being.

Perhaps most disturbing, the article quotes the State Superintendent expressing concern about if we'll be able to maintain progress on the state's graduation rate, which has crept up to 77%. It's good that this number has improved. But we're still not graduating almost a quarter of our kids from high school. And things may only get worse if schools aren't staffed the way they need to be.

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