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Education groups to lawmakers: Raise taxes to avoid cuts

http://66.225.205.104/6-2-09educut-protests.mp3

Education organizations are banding together to protest pending statewide budget cuts. WFAE's Simone Orendain reports. The education spending cuts could total $1 billion. A coalition of groups including the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state PTA and others say the proposed cuts are "disastrous" and would result in about 12,000 teachers losing their jobs. The Senate and House propose increasing class sizes by two students each, eliminating certain guidance counselor and assistant principal positions and making other cuts. North Carolina Association of Educators President Sherry Strickland says the General Assembly should consider raising taxes. She says, "Saving public schools is a top priority for the voters of North Carolina. Even in these tough budget times when raising taxes may not be a popular thing to do with our legislators." Strickland says the five organizations are rallying teacher and parent groups across the state to organize protests locally. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators has scheduled a rally before next Tuesday's CMS board meeting. Meantime, the North Carolina branch of the American Association of University Professors sent a letter to the House. It says the cuts endanger the quality of education in the state's universities. Past President Cat Warren says the House should raise taxes. "We know that we have to take a hit and we've done that. At this point there needs to be dare I say, a more nuanced conversation with the state about the fact that we need to look at the tax structure of this state," says Warren. A House subcommittee proposes trimming 11 percent of the UNC System budget.