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N.C. Opinions: Winston-Salem

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Throw money at this issue

From an editorial in the (Winston-Salem) Journal on Sunday:

Students can’t learn from thin air. If we expect our students to lead us into the future, they need valuable resources such as good teachers and up-to-date textbooks. In the case of textbooks, they’ve been left to cobble together bits and pieces.

Over the past five years, funding for textbooks has fallen from nearly $60 per student to just $14 this year, the Journal’s Arika Herron reported recently. This, when most textbooks cost between $50 and $75 each. As a result, students have to share dilapidated textbooks or do without.

“This year is a struggle,” East Forsyth High School math teacher Julie Riggins told the Journal. “We do try to cover up the fact that we don’t have books.”

It’s not just teachers who have noticed the problem. Students and parents see and feel it, too.

“I’d like to see the legislature acknowledge the fact that there’s not enough money in our budgets to equip our students for learning,” Jill Lindstrom, a parent of two Forsyth County students and member of the East Forsyth High School PTA, told the Journal.

While some generous souls may want to solicit donations to meet this need, Beverly Emory, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, wisely pointed out to the Journal that this would provide the state with an excuse not to restore funding.

And eventually, donations would dry up.

Resources for education have been cut over the past several years by Republican and Democratic legislators alike. The Republican leadership, fresh to power, has an opportunity to create a legacy that will reward them – and, more importantly, the state – if they act now. Giving raises to starting teachers, as the governor did, is a good first step, but it’s only a first step.

Just throwing money at a problem is generally not an effective way to correct it – but in this case, money is exactly what is needed. Our legislature needs to take further steps to adequately fund our schools.

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