sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, October 29, 2004

This is an interesting article in the Kinston Free Press regarding the differing views on education between Easley and Ballantine. It may have shifted my vote for governor.

But, surprise! I was considering conceding an Easley victory and going with the crowd. I was also considering going for the libertarian Barbara Howe as a protest vote.

But, as I interpret this article, Ballantine exposed Easley's weakness on education.

"The Ballantine campaign see Easley's lower classroom efforts and pre-kindergarten initiative over the past four years as being inefficient and sometimes a burden on local governments," the article reads.

"....lower class sizes amounted to an unfunded mandate on local county commissioners, who are responsible for finding the additional classrooms that sometimes might be required under the proposal."

Ballantine is "also critical of one of the methods used to pay for the additional teachers required for a lower class size-reducing the number of teacher's assistants in elementary schools."

In my mind, Ballantine hit the nail on the head, at least as far as Guilford County is concerned. Easley's programs are unfunded mandates, as is, admittedly, No Child Left Behind.

During its budget process, I watched the Guilford County school board struggle as it juggled the number of teacher assistants to help pay for the extra teachers required by reduced class sizes.On top of it all, the state shorted Guilford County $2.5 million.

One piece of business the board addressed last night (that I did not report in my earlier post) was its legislative agenda. As the board tossed the subject around, board chairman Alan Duncan argued that state funding, or lack thereof, should be a major part of the agenda.

"I do not believe our state legislators understand what what they did to this district," Duncan said.

School superintendent Terry Grier has also made several strong comments about the governor's mandates.

"It's one thing to reduce class size," Grier said at an earlier school board meeting. "It's another to require you to cut other places out of your budget to fund it."

So I can't imagine Duncan and Grier, or any school board member for that matter, voting for Easley.

But I realize I have a problem. I've watched the school board struggle with No Child Left Behind, yet I'm going to pull the lever for Bush. For me to say that I can't vote for Easley because of his unfunded manadates might be a bit disingenuous.

But I'm going to do vote for Bush anyway. What the hell, I'll vote for Ballantine, too. I guess the important thing is everyone realizes that our democratic governor has burdened our schools with unfunded mandates.


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