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Documentary Questions NC Education Budget Cuts

October 24, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The true story of what can happen when teachers have the opportunity to enrich their own education is the subject of the documentary movie "Mitchell 20." The film, which follows 20 Arizona teachers as they pursue National Board Certification, documents the way pupils benefit from their teachers' professional development.

"Mitchell 20," released this fall, is being shown this Wednesday in Chapel Hill at the Varsity Center. John Wilson, former executive director of the National Education Association (NEA), says it's proof that cutting professional development for North Carolina teachers is a mistake.

"The tragedy is that that's the first thing that's cut in a budget crisis and I think that hopefully people will understand that that's the last thing you should cut."

North Carolina cut funding for all professional teacher development this summer in an effort to balance the state budget.

To be sure, North Carolina is actually a leader in having teachers who are nationally board-certified. There are 18,000 in the state, making it first in the country.

Nashonda Cooke, chair of the National Board Certified Teachers Caucus and a special education teacher in Durham, says the cuts send a troubling message.

"And either you're for us, or you're against us, and it really seems like lately we've had people who are so much against us that they're willing to sacrifice kid's lives."

John Wilson hopes people who see "Mitchell 20" will understand the importance of professional development.

"Every legislator in North Carolina should go see this movie. They should understand what a big mistake they made in cutting North Carolina Teacher Academy."

For more information on the documentary or to find out how you can see it, go to

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NC