Don’t fret, even though school’s already started, North Carolina’s set to receive an additional $298 million from the federal government to help hold on to teacher’s jobs for the current school year. This money comes after North Carolina was one of ten states to receive federal money from the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” program—a program whose emphasis on charter schools forced the state to fudge 125 public-schools as “charter schools” on its application. But that little white lie (NC caps the number of charter schools at 100) isn’t the point.
The point is that this money, along with the extra $298 million the state received this week, will not be used to help keep teaching positions across the state. This is because school systems across North Carolina will not see a penny from federal programs until nearly October, when the first quarter of school is already over. According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Gorman, research at CMS has shown that teachers who begin their jobs after the school year has started often fall behind their colleagues for several years. After receiving funds earlier this summer, Dr. Gorman said, “In theory, using the $25.7 million right now would allow us to hire 467 new teachers this year.”
“In practice, it doesn’t really work that way. The state will receive the money from the federal government at the end of September, and we will receive our portion sometime after that. By the time we post vacancies, interview and hire, it will be October at the earliest.”
And that’s from the money it was awarded in August. So what will districts do with all of this extra cash—cash intended to maintain teaching positions for the current school year?
Increase the number of non-teaching positions, of course. This summer, Civitas reported that Wake County Public Schools hired nearly the same number of non-teaching “professionals” as teachers since 2001.
“In addition to hiring 2,900 plus new teachers, WCPSS also added 2,160 new non-teaching positions. Such non-teaching positions are classified as “professionals” (i.e., administrators, principals, guidance counselors, etc.) and “non-certified staff” (i.e., secretaries, technicians, teacher assistants, etc.). These numbers are another way of saying that for every teacher hired, nearly one (.73) new non-teaching professional or non-certified staff person was hired. “
So basically, as the district hired more teachers, it was hiring non-teaching “professional” staff at an even faster rate. If the past is any indicator, it seems that this money will almost undoubtedly go towards staffing more bureaucratic jobs in school systems and not towards ensuring good teachers remain employed. So as elected officials across the state pass legislation aimed at fooling the Feds to get more money, more votes are bought.