North Carolina has an unusual confluence of circumstances that drives what we see as resources available in classrooms and schools.
First, our constitution requires a “sound, basic” education in free public school for every child.
Next, in 1933, we passed the “School Machinery Act,” which basically says that the General Assembly is responsible for funding operations and counties should fund construction. If this is upheld, we would have one of the highest percentages of school funding coming from the state level–which is a good thing because a) income taxes can be more progressive than property taxes in general; and b) we would have the ability to equitably fund all students across the state, including those areas where property tax collection is inadequate to provide support schools need.
Finally, we are almost unique in the nation in still using a “position allotment” for how the state funds school districts. Most states give districts a pot of money and let schools determine how to spend it. While we need to be flexible with how local districts can meet local needs, I would suggest there are greater benefits from knowing the state is responsible for paying for the adults who do the work to ensure our Constitutional duty.
What it comes down to is how the position allotments are determined. To ensure that our schools are fully resourced, we need, among other things:
- Nurses, counselors, social workers, and psychologists with manageable caseloads (based on solid research)
- Teacher assistants in every K-3 classroom, as well as an assistant for every other 4-5 classroom.
- Teacher allocations in middle and high school with enough planning time to deliver great instruction to every student
- Class sizes that are reasonable and predictable
- Enough central office support to remove paperwork and repetitive tasks from teachers
- Adequate supplies and instructional materials–end the expectation that teachers will purchase items