Chris Fitzsimon has written a column I wish I'd written ... a beautiful analysis of why Republicans have lost the education debate in North Carolina. They've come up with a bunch of statistics and percentages to proudly show how much they've helped teachers, but the reality on the ground doesn't jive with all their happy talk.
It seems like every day brings another report or column or chart from a think tank or advocacy group claiming the General Assembly has actually increased education spending in the last few years and given all teachers one of the biggest raises in history. Neither claim is true of course. Education funding has been cut. Classes are larger as teaching positions have been slashed. There are fewer teacher assistants in the classrooms in the early grades.
There are not enough textbooks to go around and not only are teachers having to pay for supplies out of their own pockets because of funding cuts, last year the General Assembly abolished a tax deduction for teachers forced to spend their own money to buy things that students need. As for the teacher raise, the confusing plan eventually passed by the House and Senate and signed by Governor Pat McCrory gave newer teachers a significant raise but left many veteran teachers with barely an increase at all.
An analysis by the N.C. Budget Tax Center shows that a teachers with 14 years experience are getting a $272 raise, or an increase of 0.7 percent. A 30-year teacher with a master’s degree will be getting $666 dollars more this year, a bump of 1.2 percent.
A similar numbers game is backfiring on their misguided approach to tax reform, where tax rates for millionaires were reduced, while nearly everyone else saw a net increase in the taxes they pay. It's all part of Art Pope's smokin' mirrors plan and it's just not working. Most North Carolina voters aren't falling for it.