State Board of Education chair Bill Harrison spared no words today in expressing his disgust over the Senate budget that pushes cuts onto local school districts.
At the State Board meeting this morning, Harrison let loose in a 20-minute speech that drew a standing ovation.
"If you want to dismantle the public schools, if you want to privatize them, say it," he said in comments about the Republican budget plan.
"Don't say 'we're reforming a broken system,'" he said. "Say, 'I don't care about public schools, I'm going to break an improving system and here's my budget'....Let's be honest with one another, folks."
Harrison said the Senate budget would ditch important programs and force local districts to cut at least 9,200 jobs. He said he was proud of the progress North Carolina has made in recent years, citing graduation rates that climbed from 68 percent to 74 percent in the last four years.
"Right now, folks, I'm beginning to get embarrassed," he said. "I'm embarrassed by the rhetoric, I'm embarrassed by the bashing of everyone and everything, and I think this budget is a disgrace. It's not going to do one thing to help this state."
After his remarks, the State Board unanimously passed a resolution saying the budget would have serious impact on the children of North Carolina.
Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, said the latest budget plan is $19.7 billion, slightly lower than Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's $19.9 billion plan. He said Harrison is off base with his comments.
"For him to say with a straight face that that difference will even be discernible shows that he has difficulty with math," Stam said.