06/23/09 — Governor stumps in Greenville for schools

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Governor stumps in Greenville for schools

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 23, 2009 1:46 PM


Gov. Bev Perdue speaks with reporters during an education rally at South Central High School in Winterville Monday, June 22, 2009.

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Gov. Beverly Perdue waves to a line of demonstrators as she exits South Central High School in Winterville, N.C. after speaking to educators, teachers and other concerned citizens during an education rally on Monday, June 22, 2009.

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A line of protesters stands outside South Central High School in Winterville while Gov. Bev Perdue speaks to educators, teachers and other concerned citizens on Monday, June 22, 2009.

WINTERVILLE -- Gov. Beverly Perdue held one of her "Save Education" rallies in Greenville Monday bringing in area educators as well as some protesters.

The rally was an attempt to gain support for Perdue's proposed plan to cut next year's $4.7 million budget deficit by encouraging the General Assembly to find $1 billion more for education.

"In North Carolina, we really have to act boldly, and I mean boldly, to protect our classrooms. ... If you cut the classroom, in the long term and short term we cripple North Carolina's economy."

The governor added that the answer to helping education in North Carolina isn't increasing class size or laying off teachers and teaching assistants. However, she didn't touch on specifics for finding that extra $1 billion for education.

Lawmakers have been considering a sales tax increase to reduce at least part of the deficit, but are currently only debating a measure that would generate $784 million -- not the $1.5 billion the governor has said might be needed and not just to relieve the burden on the schools.

Arleshia Carmen, school counselor at South Central High School, said she was excited and impressed by the governor.

"I'm glad to know that she supports us as well as she does. I'm looking forward to good things happening in North Carolina," she said.

Mary Robinson, math teacher at South Central, said cuts in staff could be a serious concern for those who are worried about education quality in North Carolina.

"Education needs to be funded fully so we can protect our children's education. A lot of people don't understand the impact an additional two or three students can have on the classroom," she said. "The more students we have the less we are able to individually work with each student keeping them motivated. Our high school dropout rate in North Carolina is atrocious and it makes it a much tougher job when there are more students in the classroom."

Not everyone at the rally was in favor of the governor's proposal.

About 30 protesters stood outside the high school with signs. Ginny Cooper's sign read "You cannot tax your way to prosperity."

Ms. Cooper, chairwoman of the Pitt County Republican Party, said the governor's plan is misleading.

"I think that she is trying to sell this as education support, but the education program in North Carolina is broken," she said. "To sell it that it's going to help out the education program is ridiculous."

Ms. Cooper said the governor should look closer at "cutting the fat" by re-evaluating some of the costly administrator positions.

Alex Lewis, chairman of the East Carolina Univer-sity student Republican organization, said he doesn't agree with taxes and he doesn't agree with the cuts -- or the governor's ability to lead the state out of the financial crisis.

He held a cardboard stack of money with eyeballs on top of it, similar to the GEICO Insurance commercials, with a sign reading "The money you could have saved by voting Republican."

"It was a pretty vague speech just like most of them are," he said. "She's in there telling them how she's going to be saving jobs but the proposed plan is just the opposite."