UNC law student bikes 476 miles to support public education

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Amanda Kramer is biking across the state to call attention to cuts to public education. She leaves on Wednesday.

UNC law student and Hillsborough native Amanda Gladin-Kramer bought her first road bike and began cycling in May.

Since then, Gladin-Kramer, who is in her second year of law school, has completed 50- and 75-mile bike rides. She even pedaled a 100-mile ride in August.

On Wednesday she embarked on her most significant ride yet — a five-day, 476-mile course across North Carolina to raise awareness about state budget cuts to education.

“It is a little crazy,” she said. “I know it will be very, very difficult.”

Gladin-Kramer’s original plan was to bike one mile for every $1 million cut.

When she began planning the ride, data she researched suggested the cut was about $476 million, and she decided to use that number to ensure she biked enough symbolic miles.

The state budget cut to public education is about $459 million, according to a report from the N.C. Senate appropriations committee.

In June, the N.C. General Assembly approved a budget with sweeping cuts to help close a $2.4 billion gap. To cope with cuts, state public schools eliminated about 6,300 positions and laid off about 2,400 employees for the 2011-12 academic year — the largest cuts in recent history.

Gladin-Kramer said she hopes to draw attention to the budget cuts and to organizations that are working to alleviate their impacts.

She has raised more than $2,600 and hopes to raise about $8,500 by the end of the ride on Sunday.

She plans to donate the money she raises to three nonprofit organizations: Advocates for Children’s Services, the N.C. Partnership for Children Inc. and the East Durham Children’s Initiative.

Mary Mathew, program manager for the EDCI, said the initiative, which focuses its efforts in one of the most at-risk areas in Durham, has been around for about two years.

The initiative works with community groups, including tutoring and social support organizations.

She said the EDCI will use the money from Gladin-Kramer’s bike ride for some of its partner programs.

“The awareness that she’s building on this issue is just as important — if not more important — than the money,” she said.

Gladin-Kramer grew up in Hillsborough and attended Orange County public schools.

“I’m very grateful for my education,” she said.

As a high school student, she assisted Robert Richardson, a fellow Hillsborough resident and a UNC visiting professor in American studies, in verifying and organizing his research for a book he was writing.

Throughout the years, she stayed in touch with Richardson, who is helping to support her campaign.

“She’s very public-spirited in an era in which you’re supposed to be looking out for number one,” he said.

He said Gladin-Kramer’s bike ride reflects her community-minded outlook on life.

“As soon as I heard about the ride, I wrote out a check.”

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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