The average book in the Freeman School of Engineering library is 15 years older than a kindergartener.
Librarian Barbara Anderson said 1998 is the average publication year of a book in her library; some science texts still list Pluto as a planet. After the Great Recession of 2008-09, the school district gave principals the final decision in disbursing limited school supply funds. Anderson said that means that many school years, she’s rummaging through used book sales while district dollars go to classroom necessities.
“If I don’t have relevant books,” Anderson asked at a town hall Tuesday, “am I providing the best services for my students?”
Even as the state’s economy rebounds from the recession, North Carolina’s schools have not recovered from decade-old cuts.
That was the message at Tuesday’s town hall in Wilmington, which featured Anderson and other New Hanover County Schools educators. The town hall was sponsored by Progress N.C., a left-leaning but non-partisan advocacy group, and the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE). Similar town halls are being held across the state ahead of North Carolina’s legislators returning to Raleigh on May 16.
“Just 10 years ago North Carolina was a beacon in the south for public education,” NCAE President Mark Jewell said during the forum. “But over the past decade we have seen a strategic dismantling of the public school system.”
On Monday the National Education Association (NEA) released estimates that put North Carolina’s average teacher salary at $50,861 -- or 37th in the nation. That’s a slight increase from $49,970 (39th place) a year ago, but nearly $10,000 lower than the national average of $60,483.