Dear Sen. Barefoot,
Earlier this calendar year you were quoted as saying,
“For years, the General Assembly has been sending tens of millions of dollars to districts for new classroom teachers for the purpose of lowering classroom sizes,” he said. “The question we keep asking over and over again is, ‘What did they do with the money? …The data that we have received from the districts varies, and some districts did not fully respond to our information request. What some of the data has shown is that there are districts that did not reduce class sizes with the funding we sent them. Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” (http://www.wral.com/law-reducing-class-size-has-music-art-pe-teachers-anxious-about-future-/16628678/).
You never showed proof of the data. There was no explanation of what you had seen. There seemed to be no transparency. You made the claim, but never showed us where those “misallocations” really were.
Senator, you helped craft and pass a budget which ensured that per pupil expenditure would remain well below the national average (and lower than pre-recession days in adjusted monies) and funneled more finite resources into privatization efforts like vouchers.
You helped push a budget that has already cut DPI’s funds by 10 percent this year and another portion next year.
Then you spawned HB13 that launched itself into the everyday conversation of public school districts as your need to “reform” public education took new heights. And the fruits of your efforts are starting to show.
This past week the North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, Dr. James Merrill, sent a letter to the Wake County Delegation in the North Carolina General Assembly. As an elected official from Wake County, I am sure you received this letter.
These are the schools and families that you represent, Sen. Barefoot. These are your constituents. These are your students. These are your communities.
Whether you should reply is not the question. You are an elected official. You will respond, either with a public comment, a private letter, or with the response that screams loudest – the non-answer.
The question is whether you have the wherewithal to respond directly to all of the people who are affected by the rather partisan stab to public schools that HB13 has become and continues to be.
Yes, we know that you are not running for reelection on 2018 and that this matter may not be totally settled before you end your tenure as a senator to “spend more time with your family.” But your actions with this class size restriction mandate (among many, many others) affects the “school communities” of “more than 90 of (your) 113” Wake County elementary schools. That’s a lot of families whose parents want to spend time with their school-aged children, hopefully knowing that their children have the needed resources for school.
To say that the rest of the state is not paying attention to what happens to Wake County schools in this matter would be false. In each LEA, there are conversations occurring that are attempting to best handle massive cuts to follow a mandate championed by people like you who have also ironically bragged about our state’s surplus.
So senator, how are you going to respond?
How will you explain to Dr. Merrill that this “class size” restriction without a plan to help resource extra classrooms and displaced teachers is good for Wake County schools? Or any other county’s schools?
How would you condone “moving art and music teachers out of their classrooms, creating upper elementary grades with more than 30 students and placing two teachers in some classrooms?”
And while you do not have to reconvene for the General Assembly until next month, Wake County elementary schools will be open again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
And the next day.
So, senator. What is your explanation?