Republican Senate leader Phil Berger made blunt remarks about public school reform at a recent gathering held by Best NC, a business-backed education advocacy group.
He suggested “scrapping schools of education” and likened investing in teacher assistants to investing in manual typewriters.
“The stakes are too high to be risk and conflict adverse when it comes to education policy,” he argued.
Berger explained the state should either try to improve the programs that aren't working or no longer invest in them. He pointed to the UNC schools of education as an example.
“[They] need to do a better job of preparing teachers for the classroom,” he said. “We either need to fix our schools of education in North Carolina or scrap them in favor of new, different approaches to teacher preparation.”
Berger also talked about cutting back on teacher assistants. This year, the senate budget called for cutting thousands of teacher assistant positions – up to 8,500 by some estimates – in favor of smaller class sizes.
After long negotiations, the final spending plan kept money for TAs intact. Still, Berger argues that TAs don’t have a meaningful impact on student performance.
“We will spend almost $400 million on TAs next year,” he said. “I equate it to an office supply business that chooses to continue to invest in manual typewriters.”
His full speech is posted on his Facebook page, where several people commented with angry responses.
“Manual typewriters don't give hugs, dry tears, work one on one with struggling students, run copies, relieve teachers for whatever reason,” wrote Heather Robbins.
Another person bashed him for suggesting that state leaders should apply business principles to public education.
"We should TOTALLY run schools just like a business. They are EXACTLY the same in EVERY way! You, sir, are a genius," wrote Matt Webster.
Watch the speech below: