Debate Over Education Funding Heats Up as Election Draws Nearer

Debate Over Education Funding Heats Up as Election Draws Nearer

6:13pm Aug 15, 2014
A group of people unhappy with the state budget for education rallied in Greensboro on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.
WFDD photo by Kathryn Mobley

With the general election less than three months away, education is shaping up as a key issue in the race for the U.S. Senate between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and GOP challenger Thom Tillis.

The debate is being intensified as grassroots groups get involved. 

On Friday, a group of about a dozen educators and supporters gathered in Greensboro to say they don’t like recent changes to the state budget for education.

The legislature approved a compromise budget that included a tiered system of raises for teachers. In statements outside of Guilford County Courthouse, protesters argued that the overall education budget will make things harder for both teachers and students.

Marshall Marvelli teaches high school English at Paisley IB Magnet School in Winston-Salem. He says while most of the budget talks have been about teacher salaries, budget cuts in other areas could have a negative impact in the classroom.

“You pull out textbooks, you pull out technology, you double the number of students in a classroom, you take away teaching assistants – that whole thing, together as a single fabric -  is a cloth with a lot of holes in it,” Marvelli said.

Amy Harrison is a special education teacher at Reedy Fork Elementary in Greensboro. She says she’s already seeing an impact that the funding battle has had.

“Our teachers are not coming back," Harrison said. "We’ve had teachers move to other states. Class size is larger than what we’ve ever seen before."

The protests come the same day that a new ad supporting the educational changes pushed by Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Tillis began airing in major markets across the state.

The ad was created by the right-leaning group, Carolina Rising. The ad goes on to say that students returning to school this year face a brighter future because of the leadership of McCrory and Tillis.

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