CHARLOTTE—Senator Phil Berger laid out his Excellent Public Schools Act to a group of Charlotte business leaders Thursday. The measure focuses on five key areas he said need improving, including literacy, school accountability and teacher training.
"The key to the program is making sure kids know how to read by the time they leave the 3rd-grade," said Sen. Berger.
The Republican Senator said raising taxes is not the way to accomplish the goal. It is a stark contrast to Gov. Bev Perdue's budget plan rolled out in Raleigh Thursday, funding more slots for NC Pre-K program for at-risk kids and putting more teachers in the classroom.
"The investments in this budget include a net increase in education of $785 million," said Gov. Perdue.
Sen. Berger is not as keen on the idea of continual spending.
"That's been the solution that we've seen over the past 20 years. Let's spend more money let's spend more money. But that has not provided us with a better result," said Sen. Berger.
Instead the Republican's plan promises to improve public education by focusing on several key areas including, literacy, school accountability and teacher quality.
"A key part of the proposal is teaching teachers how to teach reading and making sure that they're qualified in literacy before we put them in front of students," said Berger.
However like Gov. Perdue's plan Berger admit his proposal also takes money.
"Balance our budget and spend within our means. To do what businesses and families have been doing in NC for the last couple of years. If you don't have the funds you don't spend the funds. Prioritize your spending," said Berger.
Berger's plan also calls for changing how schools are graded. Instead of labeling schools as Schools of Honor or Excellence, they would receive A, B, C, D or F ratings.
Legislators are expected to discuss Berger's bill during next week's short session.