Issue Paper: Public Education

Prepared for NC Women Matter by NC Association of Educators.

The status of women in North Carolina—in the workplace, in relationships, in our government, and as leaders in our families—is directly related to the educational opportunities North Carolina historically provided its citizens, all of its citizens.

For generations, North Carolina women have been empowered by an accessible public education system that not only provided a sound, basic education in the classroom, but provided a path to a college education that promised gainful employment, economic opportunity, and political leadership.

North Carolina has a long and proud history of providing nationally recognized early childhood education programs that enrich minds and promote gainful employment. For many years, working women and families were given access to a high quality education system that would not bankrupt family incomes but enrich families, protect pay, and elevate future generations.

North Carolina’s K-12 public education system provided low class size classrooms that allowed professional educators to invest quality time with all North Carolina students either struggling with content or needing further classroom challenges.

And, of course, North Carolina’s public university system prides itself in giving entire generations of women access to higher learning that was inaccessible to previous generations.

The current North Carolina leadership seems to have intentions of turning back the clock in every aspect of women’s lives, including public education.

However, this foundation is unstable today as classrooms crowd more students with fewer adults, class offerings are no longer offered, less time is afforded for students who need the most attention, and fewer seats for early childhood education and higher education are offered.

In addition to the erosion of public education, women are also undermined as the teaching profession itself comes under attack. It is estimated that women are over 80% of teachers and over 95% of teacher assistants. The attacks on their profession include eroding pay, fewer benefits, less professional development, and even an attack on women’s rights to collectively petition their government for redress of their grievances—attacks initiated by a male dominated General Assembly with political intentions of destroying public education and the profession.

The 2012 election is about stopping this destruction of public education and women’s lives. It’s about reinvesting in public education at every level, a reinvestment that promotes access, opportunity, and strong voices for our children, families, and communities.

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