Cut Teachers a Break: Restore NCCAT Funding

Everyone felt a sense of pride and amazement for the schoolteachers who used their bodies to protect their students when the huge tornado roared through Moore, Okla., earlier this month. And if you have school-aged children, you are very thankful for the dedication and service most teachers provide on a daily basis for your kids. They certainly don’t do their jobs for the money.

At the same time, teachers need livable wages to pay their bills, just like the rest of us expect. And we should help them to become better educators, and reward them when they are.

One of the major programs of the N.C. Coastal Federation is working with school children and their teachers to expose them to our coastal treasures and to help them understand what it takes to be good environmental stewards. Thousands of kids each year help us restore oysters, marshes, wetlands and water quality.

Along with other major cuts to the education budget, both the Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. State Senate have eliminated funding for NCCAT in this year’s budget. They even want to dispose of its facilities.One of our key partners is the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching, or NCCAT, which has its eastern campus in the old Coast Guard Station in Ocracoke. The main campus is in Cullowhee in the state’s mountains. The Ocracoke center is a wonderful refurbished facility that gives lucky teachers a few days about once in a blue moon to be away from their classes to be immersed in cultural, historical, scientific and other enrichment opportunities. It provides one of the few opportunities public school teachers have to recharge themselves, and it encourages them be better long-term classroom educators.

The refurbished Coast Guard Station at Ocracoke is a wonderful facility, but it has issues that will make it difficult to sell to a private buyer. There’s a clause in its deed that means it might have to be given back to the federal government if the state no longer wants to use it, and its sewage system and driveway are located on National Park Service property.  Thus, the millions of dollars the state has invested in this facility won’t be recouped if it is sold, and therefore will be wasted.

Let’s hope the N.C. House of Representative budget writers don’t sell our educators short. They should restore funds to NCCAT and the teachers that use it. The best investment we can make in the future of N.C. is providing a solid, stimulating education for our kids, and we need good teachers to make that happen.

The tornado in Oklahoma reminded us that we should not take our teachers for granted.

About the Author

Todd Miller

Todd founded the North Carolina Coastal Federation in 1982. A native of Carteret County, he was selected in 2013 as a distinguished alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received his undergraduate and masters degrees. Todd also received The Old North State Award in 2007, the National Wetlands Community Leader Award in 2012 and the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards' Hero of Seas Award in 2015. He is a founding board member of Restore America Estuaries, a member of the Board of Visitors for the UNC Institute for the Environment and chairman of the Policy Committee for the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary Partnership. As executive director, Todd formulates the federation’s goals and policy positions, serves as the federation’s spokesperson and provides staff and operations oversight.