The State of North Carolina Should Restore Professional Development in the State Budget

From from last December:

“The General Assembly cut the budget line item for teacher professional development from the state budget during the recession and has never restored it. In 2008, the state budgeted $12.6 million for educator professional development. That line item has been reduced to zero. Now schools might pay for some professional development from other budget areas—like federal funding or state funding to support digital learning — or teachers can turn to grants.”

“Never restored” are two words most associated with public school education in North Carolina when comparing today’s climate to the one before the Great Recession and the advent of ALEC-inspired “reforms” to public education championed by current NCGA leadership.

Ask any professional in an ever-changing, global society about the need to keep up with latest practices and approaches to serving those who depend on them. He /she will probably cite the need to keep learning and coming into contact with others who are attempting to not staying stagnant or becoming out-of-date. They will talk about the need for ongoing professional development.

Teachers are no different. And the state of NC used to help make that happen for teachers, but in a day of a supposed economic boom, the fact that this investment in teacher professional development has not been restored and expanded is either completely ignorant or outright spiteful.

Actually in NC it could be both.

As of now, teachers usually go to limited professional development during planning periods or directly before / after school  – times that are usually needed for planning and grading and collaborating directly with department members and cross-curricular teams. For the professional development that happens outside of the classroom, the LEA’s tend to foot the bill unless there is an outside source that is helping.

If the class-size chaos debacle taught us one thing, it is that the state has a habit of passing the cost of items onto the LEA’s. They are already stripped for funds: local supplements, physical facilities, etc. Another observation about NC is that when it cuts a line-item, it has a hard time returning it to the budget. It’s part of that, “Well, you’ve been getting along without it” line of reasoning.

Many budgetary line items were eliminated because of the Great Recession, and they should be put back in including the need for professional development. And our state superintendent should be the first to champion that cause considering the cuts in DPI’s budget he oversaw last year and did not fight against went to support positions for low-income school districts that relied on the state to help professionally develop working professionals with support training.

And once that investment has been made in professional development, the NCGA can make another investment in public education: TIME to participate in that professional development. Whether that means paying for subs or allowing for more planning time through more budgetary flexibility, allowing teachers the time to actually be able to professionally develop in collaborative cohorts can be incredibly beneficial to student outcomes.

2008 to 2019 is a long time.

Actually eleven academic years.




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