by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Since the publications of my newsletter last week, “Should the legislature cut the DPI budget?,” it has been brought to my attention that some readers may have misinterpreted the graph included in the Facts and Stats section.
Indeed, as I reread the article, it does appear that there is a lack of context about data represented in the graph. Specifically, the total number of state, federal, and receipt-supported N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI) employees represented in the graph, while numerically correct, includes some functions that were previously administered elsewhere or created due to an award of federal funds.
For example, during the 2009-10 fiscal year around 81 positions from the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching were transferred into the department. The total also included the addition of existing residential school positions, N.C. Virtual Public School teachers, and temporary federal positions funded by a Race to the Top grant awarded in 2010. While the total number of DPI employees increased between 1995 and 2013, the increase did not necessarily produce a net increase in permanent government employees or a significant increase in the agency’s bureaucratic strata.
That said, the issue of whether these functions are best managed by DPI remains a legitimate question. For example, would residential schools operate more efficiently and effectively as an independent entity, as part of the school district within which it resides, or as a charter school? Ultimately, that is a question that the members of the General Assembly, the State Board of Education, and all stakeholders should ask.