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North Carolina ranks No. 48 in per student spending, average teacher salaries

Only three states are expected to spend less per student than North Carolina in the current school year, according to the latest rankings from the National Education Association.

North Carolina's per pupil spending for the 2012-13 school year is estimated at $8,433 with only Texas, Utah and Arizona spending less per student. The U.S. average is $11,068.

The state also ranks No. 48 in teacher salary among the 50 states and District of Columbia in the current school year, paying an average $45,947. Only Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Dakota pay less. The U.S. average is $56,383.

Both rankings in per pupil spending and average teacher salary represent a decline in the NEA rankings from the previous year. North Carolina spent $8,492 per student in the 2011-2012 school year and paid an average teacher salary of $46,605.

N&O Fact Check: Is North Carolina 49th in per pupil spending?

Claim: “The terrible thing we’ve all seen this time around is the Republicans taking us to 49th nationally in education spending.”

Speaker: Bill Faison, Democratic candidate for governor, at the N.C. Association of School Administrators forum in Raleigh

Context: On the campaign trail, Faison is quick to say the current state budget authored by the Republican legislative leadership hurt education funding – ranking North Carolina 49th in the nation in per pupil spending.

Is he right? Read below for the answer. And click here for more on the Democratic candidates' education records.

Kissell a fan of sports books for children

The National Education Association asked members of Congress for their favorite children's books.

U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell picked the Chip Hilton series by Clair Bee. The books, published between 1948 and 1965 were aimed at adolescent boys and focus on a talented athlete who strives to help his teams win championships in various sports. 

Bee was a basketball coach and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

"This is a great series of books," said Kissell, a Biscoe Democrat. "Chip had a dream to be the best he could be in sports, and he pursued his dreams to succeed. The series describes the interactions between Chip and his coaches as they work to succeed on and off the field."


An ad Etheridge will like

Supporters of proposed health care changes have begun running TV ads in the district of Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge.

The Main Street Alliance, a coalition of small busienss groups, and the National Education Association, began running an ad thanking Etheridge for his support for health care legislation, Rob Christensen reports. 

“Our employees are like family,” said small business owner Dan Sherry in the 30-second ad, “ but right now we can’t afford to provide them with health insurance.”

Sherry, who owns Kennedy’s Creative Awards, a family engraving business in Waukegan, Ill., has been uninsured for three years. He has been unable to get new insurance because of a pre-existing condition, high cholesterol.

A similar ad is being run in the districts of Reps. Leonard Boswell of Iowa, Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, Harry Teague of New Mexico, Charlie Wilson of Ohio, Tom Perriello of Virginia and Mark Schauer of Michigan. The ads are scheduled to run through August 18th.

Reiff strategizing for NEA

Democratic campaign maestro Jay Reiff has taken a job with the National Education Association, helping the teachers group with its political efforts in mid-Atlantic and midwestern states.

"There's a little irony in this," said John Wilson, NEA's executive director and former president of the N.C. Association of Educators. Wilson is a longtime supporter of Gov. Beverly Perdue, and Reiff managed the campaign of Perdue's Democratic primary opponent last year, then-State Treasurer Richard Moore.

Reiff will work with NEA affiliates in N.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Kentucky and Ohio in analyzing elections, identifying candidates to endorse and helping elect them. Virginia, where Reiff previously worked as a Democratic strategist, elects a governor this year.

"I suspect Jay will be spending a lot of time assisting our Virginia affiliate with that race," Wilson said.

Reiff ran former Gov. Mike Easley's successful campaigns in 2000 and 2004, as well as U.S. Sen. Bob Casey's campaign in Pennsylvania in 2006.

Wilson appointed Reiff to temporarily fill the job for several months, after which the job will be opened to applications under union rules, Wilson said. Reiff can apply and will be in the best position to be hired because he has been in the post, Wilson said.

Easley aide lands at NCAE

The N.C. Assocation of Educators hired a former aide to Gov. Mike Easley as its executive director.

Scott Anderson, who went to work for the National Education Association after he left Easley's office, was caught up in the lottery scandal and former lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings 2006 fraud trial, Lynn Bonner reports.

Sheri Strickland, NCAE president, said she thoroughly checked into Anderson's involvement with Geddings and the lottery and shared everything she found with the NCAE search committee.

"The legal and ethical implications were vetted through NEA at the time," Strickland said, and she found nothing about Anderson's involvement that would disqualify him from holding the NCAE job.

NCAE had 166 applications for the job, Strickland said, and Anderson stood out for his knowledge of the state and his work for Easley.  NCAE signed Anderson to a two-year contract. He started work March 1.

More after the jump.

Labor spending doubled from '04

Labor spending on state races more than doubled since the 2004 elections.

According to campaign finance reports, six unions spent about $2.2 million on contributions and independent expenditures for campaigns for state office in 2004.

That's less than half the $4.7 million spent this year.

Here's a breakdown:

Service Employees International Union: $1.5 million

N.C. Association of Educators: $272,803

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: $198,150

National Education Association: $149,000

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $40,000

State Employees Association of N.C.: $35,059

N.C. chapter of the AFL-CIO: $8,000

UNITE HERE: $5,000

United Auto Workers: $600

Hagan received $199k from unions

Sen.-elect Kay Hagan received $199,000 from unions in 2008.

The Greensboro Democrat received donations from 29 political action committees affiliated with labor unions during her run for the Senate, according to federal campaign finance reports.

Top donors included the Teamsters, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Association of Firefighters and the Communications Workers of America, which each gave $10,000.

She also received significant donations from the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the United Transportation Union.

Change to Win, a federation of unions including the Teamsters, also made robocalls on Hagan's behalf, and the SEIU and the UFCW donated to Majority Action, which ran ads attacking Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Labor's top three goals for N.C.

What is labor looking for in North Carolina?

Unions and employee associations are pushing for three major pieces of legislation which would make it easier to unionize Tar Heel workers:

CARD CHECK: A U.S. House bill that would allow unions to form if employees checked a card — rather than by secret ballot — stalled in the Senate after a narrow vote last year. Sen.-elect Kay Hagan has said she is open to the bill.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: A state law from 1959 forbids any municipal or state agency to negotiate with a union. The State Employees Association of N.C., now an affiliate of SEIU, hopes to repeal the ban on collective bargaining

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, PART II: A U.S. House bill would require all cities and towns of more than 5,000 people to allow collective bargaining for firefighters, police officers and EMS workers. If passed, it would put increased pressure to overturn the state ban entirely.

These are not the only goals of unions in North Carolina, obviously. The National Education Association, for example, also has specific educational goals, while SEANC is concerned about government workers' pay and benefits.

But these are the major goals shared across union lines. 

How much did labor spend in '08?

How much did labor groups spend in 2008?

We're still working through the campaign finance reports, but here are the numbers Dome has collected so far on spending in state races by unions and employee associations:

National Education Association: $1,935,703

Service Employees International Union: $1,810,569

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: $334,117

N.C. Association of Educators: $267,230

State Employees Association of N.C.: $194,800

United Food and Commercial Workers Union: $116,500

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $41,500

Communications Workers of America: $18,750

UNITE HERE: $16,500

United Auto Workers: $9,000

N.C. Chapter of the AFL-CIO: $4,000

That adds up to $4.7 million for the 2008 cycle. However, it does not take into account money given by unions to groups such as the Democratic Governors Association, which also spent heavily here.

It also does not include spending in the U.S. Senate race.

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