Sen. Apodaca needs a math lesson

Poor Republican Sen. Apodaca. The self-disgust this husband of a former school teacher must feel apparently runs pretty deep given the lengths he goes to in his attempts to construct a consoling counter-narrative amid the howls of protest at his party's wholesale gutting of North Carolina's public education system.

According to figures from the state budget office, North Carolina currently spends an average of $5,655 per pupil per year to educate its public school students. By contrast, the state spends an average of $27,134 per inmate to feed, clothe and house convicted criminals. If Sen. Apodaca's party has its way, this disparity will grow even more, ranking our state 49th in the country in per-pupil spending, ahead of only Mississippi.

As I write, school systems across the state are sending out layoff notices to teachers and teacher assistants and eliminating programs in early childhood development the state's own research proves are vital to the future success of at-risk children. GOP rationalizations aside, if they manage to ram their draconian education budget down the throats of educators, parents and students, the results will be devastating for North Carolina's future. Next year alone, it will mean larger class sizes, fewer programs and as many as 13,000 jobs lost during an economic recession.

And here's the rub: The senator claims that his party's plan will create 1,000 new teaching jobs in grades K-3. But 13,000 minus 1,000 still leaves 12,000 North Carolina families without a paycheck. That's basic math, Sen. Apodaca. I learned it, and most everything else of value I know, from public school teachers.

— Jeff Callahan
Flat Rock


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

23 thoughts on “Sen. Apodaca needs a math lesson

  1. travelah

    Does anybody know how many non-teaching positions there are per 1,000 students today vs. 40 years ago? I haven’t found that but it sure would be interesting to know.

  2. travelah

    As I inferred above, this issue needs to be looked at from another perspective. During the ten year period from 1999 to 2009, the number of teaching positions in North Carolina increased 26%. During that decade, North Carolina’s population only increased 18%. “Non-professional” positions increased over that same time frame by 23%. Not to be outdone, administrators and other non-teaching positions grew by an astonishing 41%, consultants alone increasing by 215%!

    Also, while the NC State cost is lower, the total spent per child based on 2010 data is $8,451.

    The better questions to be asking, Mr. Callahan, are those directed at how we spend the money we allocate rather than focusing only on the aggregate. Reducing the number of positions by 12,000 statewide would bring the increase in positions over the past decade in line with population increases during that time. Shifting the positions being paid for from administrative to teaching would put that many more resources in the classroom.

    stat data from:

  3. travelah

    Additionally, what is the relevance of NC state tax payer? Education in NC is supported by local and federal taxes as well. Every tax payer in the county is affected by spending decisions impacting federal disbursements.

  4. Dionysis

    “what is the relevance of NC state tax payer?”

    Just curious as to why you are so tuned into the NC educational budget issue, that’s all. But maybe you’re equally up on the other 49 states’ financial issues as well. Given the apparent wide geographical range of your trolling, you just might.

  5. Kilgore Trout

    Hey, Travelah. Just curious: How many kids do you have enrolled in NC public schools?

  6. travelah

    Dionysis, I have a financial interest in the economic well being of NC. That is all the qualification I need to justify my interest.

    My children are all adults now. I have three grandchildren enrolled in NC public schools.

  7. Kilgore Trout

    Don’t your grandchildren deserve the same quality education you and your children had?

  8. bill smith

    t-ha’s right that schools could likely cut administrative costs. Of course, his Republicans are cutting teacher’s pay. Are they also cutting Administrator’s? Or increasing it?

  9. Dionysis

    “Dionysis, I have a financial interest in the economic well being of NC. That is all the qualification I need to justify my interest.”

    I’m not claiming otherwise.

  10. travelah

    The quality of public education began its decline decades ago and that “quality” is not going to improve or decline further through the actions of the NC legislature. I am an advocate of a return to classical education. That means valuing subject matter over social engineering, the importance of qualified and skilled teachers over auxiliary positions and returning control of the curriculum to the local community.
    How many NC students (any public school students) are exposed to Latin or classical languages and literature? Where is the emphasis on the sciences and mathematics? How accountable are students and teachers for the curriculum they study? I believe public education is in a serious quagmire resulting from decades of liberal agendas.
    So, in answer to your question, I desire that my grandchildren acquire a sound education and that their children will as well. I question whether that is attainable in the current public school models.

  11. travelah

    Of course, his Republicans are cutting teacher’s pay

    Is that true? I don’t know that is true. I would favor keeping the pay level where it is. However here is the little, not so hidden truth about teachers salaries. If the average teacher salary of $45K is annualized to be at par with other professions that work year round (54 weeks including paid vacation time), that salary goes up to $65K based on a 36 week year.

  12. Bert

    “How many NC students (any public school students) are exposed to Latin or classical languages and literature? Where is the emphasis on the sciences and mathematics?”

    Are you saying they aren’t teaching these things in public schools? I graduated from high school in 2004. I remember reading The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, etc. etc. My high school offered Latin junior and senior year. We had several levels of biology including marine biology. We had advanced math, calculus etc. And this was a fairly rural high school in Eastern NC. I suggest respectfully that you go into public schools and see what teachers are actually doing before saying things that aren’t factual.

  13. sharpleycladd

    And, Trav, my two kids exempted out of a total of over a year of college credit because they’d taken college level courses at Asheville High. Calculus, mainly. The college-prep curriculum at Asheville High is very challenging, with a language requirement and everything. You’re pretty misinformed about this, really

    People pay extra property taxes to live in Asheville because the school system is quite good.

    It’s also worth noting that the achievement gap is narrowing systemwide, and city schools are doing a good job of addressing the needs of people who come from homes where there are no books.

    Not that that “social engineering” tidbit will save us one dime in public expense down the road, of course.

    Our school system is so good, the Republican legislature wants to make it illegal:

    Feb 24, 2009 … GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA. SESSION 2009. S. 1. SENATE BILL 265. Short Title: Fund Only One School System Per County. (Public) … SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State Board of …

  14. travelah

    That is not the norm across the state and in most other states. You are fortunate.

    The social engineering costs are found in the expansion of non-teaching costs and course work focusing on influencing ethics. The expansion of “counselors” is an excellent example of that.
    Your last comment is simply absurd.

  15. sharpleycladd

    Your willingness to exempt yourself from expenses arising from the fact that part of your species is born into families that do not work well is duly noted.

  16. sharpleycladd

    It’s a fact that some people don’t get to school ready to learn. In fact, some people get to school on an empty stomach each and every day. See the Federal Free School Lunch Program.

    Others in miscellaneous threads have pilloried me for saying that there are costs to living in society, whether you want to pay them or not. Schools or prisons, Headstart or prisons, Free Lunch Program or prisons. I’ve been chewed out for substituting the state for the “thug” holding the gun, as if state expenditures to prevent folks from having screwed-up lives is stealing.

    I could argue that it’s cheaper to spend tax revenues on early childhood education, family services and nutrition than it is to spend tax revenues on prisons, emergency rooms, and charity funerals. But I know our right-wing friends will go to the wall and say “let ’em die.”

    It’s too nice a day for that, so I’ll say this: Several of your neighbors are bleeding-heart, commie-loving liberals, and they’ve got this wacky idea about spending some of their – and your – money on feeding and educating kids. Sorry.

  17. travelah

    After all these decades of expanded social spending, the schools are failing, teenagers can’t read and the prisons are bursting.
    Next argument?

  18. travelah

    Certainly could have been but for the restraining hands of conservative ideology.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.