Gov. Bev Perdue today saw first-hand how investing in innovative, successful programs can transform the way students learn in North Carolina schools and improve results.
Gov. Perdue visited Elmhurst Elementary on Monday to observe Reading 3D, an innovative diagnostic program that helps teachers identify specific ways to help students improve their reading skills. Gov. Perdue has championed the program because of its potential to help ensure students are performing at grade level.
The program is effective because it combines innovative technology with talented and trained teachers. That formula has worked in Pitt County. In just half of a school year, the program has helped the Pitt County School System reduce by 17 percent the number of third graders who are falling behind in reading.
Gov. Perdue said Monday that children across North Carolina could benefit from programs like the one working in Pitt County.
"Pitt County's success with Reading 3D shows the kind of results we can achieve if we invest in new and innovative learning technologies," Gov. Perdue said. "We shouldn't just invest more resources in schools, we must also invest them in new ways to transform the way we educate our children."
The technology alone cannot generate results; Pitt County Superintendent Beverly Emory explained that quality educators were needed to achieve good outcomes.
"The success of Reading 3D is built on our ability to assess every student and monitor the progress of those students throughout the course of the school year," Emory said. "Losing more teaching and teaching assistant positions will clearly undermine the success of the program."
The budget adopted by the General Assembly over Gov. Perdue's veto last year would force Pitt County to find a total of $8 million in discretionary cuts to its budget this year.
In the current year, Pitt County Schools lost 69 teaching positions and 92 teacher assistant positions because of discretionary cuts passed down by the General Assembly.
"School districts should not have to choose between investing in teachers and investing in technology," Gov. Perdue said. "Our children deserve a world-class education, and great teachers equipped with great technology can transform children's lives."
Statewide, the current budget cut 5.8 percent, or more than $459 million from K-12 schools. As a result, there are 915 fewer teachers and more than 2,000 fewer teacher assistants than last year. Overall, there are nearly 5,000 fewer overall jobs in education than last year.
Absent action from the General Assembly, the problem will get even worse next year for every school district in the state. K-12 schools will lose an additional $278 million in funds, a combination of $258 million in federal Education Jobs funds and an additional $20 million cut passed on to local schools by the General Assembly.