Last month the much-anticipated Leandro report was made public. The report is the result of a comprehensive, year-long study by non-partisan education consultants WestEd who were appointed by North Carolina courts to take a systematic look at whether or not the state is living up to its constitutional mandate to provide a “sound basic education” to each child.
Spoiler alert–it isn’t.
It’s important to understand that the WestEd’s Leandro report is not so much a progress report as a detailed road map toward compliance for state legislators.
Any K-3 teacher will tell you how hard it is to manage behaviors and differentiate instruction for a large group of early elementary students with only one adult in the classroom. Yet in the last decade in North Carolina we’ve seen our numbers of teaching assistants reduced by more than 8,500, the vast majority of them state-funded positions.
Over the same decade we’ve lost those thousands of teaching assistants, student enrollment in North Carolina schools has increased by 12%.
One of the recommendations made in the Leandro report is that North Carolina “fully fund teaching assistants in the early grades (K–3) to ensure adequate student-to-staff ratios for fostering responsive relationships and effective instruction.”
Returning the thousands of teaching assistants who have fallen victim to budget cuts over the last decade is going to be a vital step toward providing students with the education guaranteed to them in our constitution.Sound-Basic-Education-for-All-An-Action-Plan-for-North-Carolina