June Atkinson is MIA on Teacher Cuts

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Will she or won’t she stand up for teachers?

RALEIGH — Progress North Carolina today called on State Superintendent June Atkinson to stand up and fight for teachers and teaching assistants laid off due to state budget cuts. The biggest issue facing public education in North Carolina right now is the more than $400 million in cuts to local schools in the state budget and the issue isn’t going away. Local school systems face even bigger challenges next year as federal EduJobs money runs out.

Yet, Superintendent Atkinson remains largely silent on the issue. Atkinson goes before the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee today. Progress NC urges her to speak up for teachers, students and our public schools.

“As State Superintendent, it’s her job to be the state’s biggest advocate for public schools,” said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress North Carolina. “Right now, June Atkinson is failing teachers and students, by not standing up to lawmakers who continue to hide behind false rhetoric after they slashed school budgets.”

While June Atkinson is on record in opposition to cuts made in the 2011-12 state budget, she has not spoken up about it since August. In the debate over education cuts, their impact on students, and the future of school funding Superintendent Atkinson’s voice is missing.

Progress NC has helped to fill the void through its Pink Slip Truth Tour – highlighting the huge gulf between lawmakers’ promises to “protect the classroom” and “fully fund every teacher and teacher assistant” and the reality on the ground. About 1,800 teachers and TAs have been laid off and 4,300 classroom positions have been eliminated.

Unfortunately, without a significant change in the priorities of state lawmakers, the situation will only get worse next year. Now is the time for all public officials to stand up and fight for education.

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