The 2019-20 long session of the General Assembly kicked off this week. It will feel different from other sessions under Republican control because the Democrats gained enough seats in the November elections to break the supermajority in the House and Senate. That means Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto has real power and the two sides are likely to work together more to avoid perpetual stalemate.
On the first day of session, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, was reelected to the position of House Speaker.
EducationNC will have detailed legislative previews next week, but in the meantime, here are some photos from the first day of session and quotes from a variety of lawmakers answering one question:
How will this Assembly make North Carolina better for educators?
Sen. Michael Garrett, D-Guilford
“If you look at the makeup of the General Assembly, it’s changed quite a bit. We don’t have supermajorities anymore so there is going to have to be a lot more deliberative process and more conversations about the issues. And a lot more members have young children. Myself, I have a one-year old. And there’s no one more invested in seeing public education being successful in this state than those of us with children and even some of our more senior members who have young grandchildren. Seeing the families here today, I think that educators and stakeholders of eduction should feel optimistic that it’s a new day in North Carolina.”
“First of all, we have to respect the good job that our public education teachers are doing. Second, we need to support them more in several ways: Make sure they are working in a safe environment and that our children are safe, and make sure they have the materials and resources they need to be good teachers and do their job. And third, we need to build schools in this state. We need to improve our educational infrastructure and we need new classrooms.”
“I think the record that we’ve established over the last eight years — a continuation of that record combined with salary increases for teachers and other school staff and giving some attention to how we can better test. I would say the short answer is continue what we’ve started for the last eight years.”
“I’m not as interested in making it better for educators. I’m interested in making education better for students. I am driven by one goal: And that is improving student outcomes. To do that, we – North Carolina – must attract and retain the highest quality teachers that we possibly can. And then we must make them even better. That is good for educators, but what drives me – and what should drive our state – is high-quality student outcomes.”
“I think we need to restore a lot of the incentives we had for teachers that were rolled back when the Republicans took over. Things like the tenure rights, professional development opportunities, the pay raises. We need to fund text books, fund school supplies so teachers aren’t paying out-of-pocket. And we need to take care of funding issues for the actual operations of the schools.
I think this issue about the infrastructure — the speaker mentioned about the bond for school buildings — is really important. The bill that was proposed last year was not enough money because it was like $500,000 a county. I think we need to come up with a formula so that the urban counties that are larger and have larger needs get the resources they need.
We just need to make teaching great again in North Carolina — a profession that people want to pursue and not dread.”