NC Teachers

Bait & switch for teachers, McCrory style

A chicken in every pot, unless those nasty wolves snatch it away:

Gov. Pat McCrory presented a package of education spending proposals Tuesday that included a 5 percent average teacher pay raise and bonuses that would average 3.5 percent. Unlike the 2014 event, McCrory made Tuesday’s announcement without legislative leaders and other lawmakers who focus on education in attendance. It is unclear whether leading Republican lawmakers support McCrory’s plan.

Senate leader Phil Berger’s and House Speaker Tim Moore’s offices did not respond to questions. In January, Moore said teacher raises were likely to be in the 2 percent range.

This is all getting so tiresome. McCrory makes promises the Legislature has no intention of honoring (roads, bridges and broadband), giving them both plausible deniability when those promises evaporate into thin air. Kabuki theatre at its finest. And of course the timing is suspect as well:

Dan Forest actually doing something good

From the Asheville Citizen-Times: Lieutenant governor: Teacher screening legislation expected.

Yes, we do need rigorous, statewide criminal background checks for those teaching our kids.

But will the legislation that Lieutenant Dan is suggesting apply to teachers in taxpayer-funded charter schools, or to teachers in private schools that receive taxpayer funded voucher funds?

Teacher tenure in the hands of NC Supreme Court

A formal hearing to decide if they deserve a formal hearing when fired:

The N.C. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on Monday in a legal dispute over public-school teacher pay and policy reforms from 2013 that led to protest marches and rallies in the state capital. At issue is whether a plan to phase out tenure adopted in 2013 amounted to an illegal taking of contract and property rights.

Judge Linda Stephens wrote the majority opinion for the N.C. Court of Appeals. For the past four decades, Stephens stated in the opinion, the “career status,” or tenure, section of the law governing teacher and principal employment contracts “have been a fundamental part of the bargain” that thousands of teachers across the state “accepted when they decided to defer the pursuit of potentially more lucrative professions, as well as the opportunity to work in states that offer better financial compensation to members of their own profession, in order to accept employment in our public schools.”

Possibly the most important aspect of tenure is the reduction in "arbitrary" dismissals, the firing of someone based on subjective personality issues. If a supervisor knows he or she is going to have to explain the reasons for firing an employee in front of a board, they also know their leadership capabilities are under scrutiny. "I just don't like her" isn't going to work in that environment, and it shouldn't. It also shouldn't work when firing teachers who have yet to reach tenure, but that's another discussion. Personnel management is complicated, and requires a lot more effort than most are willing to give. But when you've put your time in, you deserve a guarantee of fair treatment.

GOP crusade against NCAE continues

Special laws for special enemies:

A state law passed last year required NCAE to have at least 40,000 members to qualify for payroll deductions from state employees. The law calls on the state auditor to verify the membership count every year...The law also singles out NCAE, which is the only group in the law that must have at least 40,000 total members to qualify for dues collections through payroll deductions.

For about a dozen other groups, such as the State Employees Association of North Carolina, the threshold is 2,000 members. In the audit report, SEANC is reported to have 52,900 members – and 32,033 were using the payroll deduction to pay dues.

This particular clause in the law is what's known as a "punitive" state action, as it sets aside a specific group for a regulatory burden others don't have to deal with. There are some rare cases where this is justified, but there must be an overarching "public good" to be attained. In this case, it's purely political, as evidenced by our idiot junior US Senator before he was prematurely elevated:

NC Policy Watch series continues: Starving the schools

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And squeezing blood out of the teachers:

Staffing isn’t the only dwindling resource in the classroom — so are classroom supplies. Carter and other teachers dip into their own pockets to buy supplies and to meet emergency student needs. Carter said she typically spends $500 to $600 a year. Compared with 2008, the state has reduced the public schools’ classroom supplies budget by 52 percent.

“Let me be clear,” added Carson, the school’s principal. “Our teachers have been back and forth to that Wal-Mart across the street purchasing their own supplies for their classrooms.”

This is not a new, unforeseen problem, General Assembly members have been aware of this issue from day one. And they've made a conscious choice to hold back needed funding and put that burden on teachers, many of whom are under financial strain even without these added expenditures. It's contemptible, and even more so when you consider the bond package we're looking at now, which will spend hundreds of millions on University-related Capital projects most of these unfortunate students will never be able to touch. Scientia potentia est, and to withhold it from some indicates weakness and fear of their potential.

The best of the best of 2014: Public school teachers

And when they're blogging teachers, well. It doesn't get much better than that:

In the midst of a staggering assault on public education, with their integrity, judgment, reputation, and ability under attack by everyone from corporate stooges to the US Secretary of Education, and, in many areas, with their job security under direct assault by people who don't know what the hell they're talking about, while powerful forces worked to dismantle the very institutions and ideals that they have devoted their lives to-- in the middle of all that, millions of teachers went to work and did their jobs.

When so many groups were slandering us and our own political leaders were giving us a giant middle finger, we squared our shoulders and said, "Well, dammit, I've got a job to do, and if even if I've got to go in there and do it with my bare hands in a hailstorm, I'm going to do it." And we did.

And we owe you folks a debt of gratitude that could never be adequately repaid. But what we can do, is to continue to stand with teachers here in NC, whether it's a Moral Monday gathering, e-mails or phone calls to lawmakers, or simply attending a state or local school board meeting. That's not too much to ask, and the payoff is incalculable.

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