The desperate denials continue

The desperate denials continue

- in Fitzsimon File

Two things have continued unabated since the Republicans and five rogue Democrats in the General Assembly passed a budget last week that slashed funding for public schools.

People in classrooms are getting fired and Republican leaders and their propagandists are desperately denying they have anything to do with it.

The latest attempt to absolve Republican legislative leaders of any responsibility for all the pink slips flying into teachers’ mailboxes across the state comes from the News &Observer’s Rick Martinez, whose latest column reads like an only slightly rewritten press release from the office of House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Martinez has especially harsh words for the North Carolina Association of Educators and Governor Beverly Perdue, for what he says is their fear-mongering, bellyaching, pandering, trash-talking, and exploiting children.

Martinez is beside himself that members of the “education bureaucracy” continue to point out that teachers and teacher assistants are losing their jobs every day, a fact Martinez says is not unusual and that many of those laid off will be rehired in the fall after funding “firms” up.

Then after saying that not many teachers will be fired, he wants us to know that if they are, local school officials are to blame, not the leadership of the General Assembly. He points to counties like Wake where the superintendent managed to avoid firing teacher s by slashing other jobs.

He doesn’t mention that Wake Superintendent Tony Tata, a Republican hero, called the Republican education budget “draconian.” Or that the NCAE and Governor Perdue are not making up stories about layoffs of teachers and teacher assistants, they are merely citing some of the dozens of reports of school layoffs in newspapers across the state.

And education funding is as firm as it going to get and leaves many local school officials with no choice but to let teachers and teacher assistants go. There is nowhere else for many of them to make the cuts the Republican budget imposes.

A handful of counties may be able to avoid cutting teachers by relying on left over one time federal stimulus money, the funds that Martinez and his allies on the right opposed and blasted Democrats for using to hire teachers in the last two years.

Also left out of the rewritten press release are the other education cuts that directly affect the classroom and the ability of the teachers who are left to do their jobs, like the reduction in funding for classroom supplies.

Ask any teacher and they will tell you they are already paying for supplies out of their salary that hasn’t increased in three years.

Surely Martinez can’t believe that only the “education bureaucracy” believes students ought to have pencils and paper and materials for bulletin boards, but the budget he supports doesn’t provide them.

Expect more misleading screeds like this from the folks on the right because their carefully crafted prevarications aren’t working, their cover is blown.

Their budget fires teachers and teacher assistants and school staff members that support them. And students will suffer.

That is the simple truth and all the confusing claims and name calling in the world can’t hide it.

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.