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Increasing class sizes like ‘herding cattle’
Educators slam proposed unlimited K-2 cap
 
Published Thursday, May 23, 2013 9:58 am
by Stephanie Carson, N.C. News Service

 

NEW BERN – North Carolina's public school children could return in August to very different classrooms if the state Senate budget is passed.


The proposal is up for a second vote today before moving on to the House. It reduces the number of teacher assistants and pre-kindergarten slots, and it removes the cap on kindergarten-through-second-grade class sizes.


Ashley Fillingame, a second grade teacher in Craven County, voiced concern about the effect these cuts could have.


“I like to think that teaching is the profession that leads to all other professions, so herding children like cattle into overcrowded learning environments really doesn't serve anyone well,” she said.


The Senate budget also eliminates additional compensation for teachers who pursue graduate degrees. North Carolina ranks 48th in the country when it comes to per-pupil spending.


Natale Beyer is on the board of directors for Public Schools First NC, a newly-formed group of citizens, parents, teachers and members of the community. Its goal is to encourage lawmakers to properly fund public schools in the state. She also serves on the Durham School Board. Beyer said a quality education system has economic benefits.


“As our economy continues to improve, the way to draw jobs back to the state is to have strong schools and strong communities. We need to start putting our money where it's most valuable, and that's with our young children,” Beyer said.


Fillingame, who is Craven County's Teacher of the Year, has worked in the younger grades for her entire career. She said the proposal to raise the cap on the number of students in those classrooms has her concerned.


“K-2 is really where you form the student, and when you set them up for either success or failure in the rest of their school career,” Fillingame said.


She also pointed out that increased class sizes, coupled with a reduction in teacher assistants, would make it very difficult for her to give her students the individual attention they need.

 

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