Again, irony makes this world go round.
In an effort to wrap up the long session of the North Carolina General Assembly in record fashion, the reactionary creators of HB2, vouchers, unregulated charter school growth, and limited health care options are proffering one more reactionary measure to pass, probably with a midnight session.
Senate Bill 867, a bill concerning background checks on teacher candidates, is currently making its way through Raleigh. Co-sponsored by the newly appointed chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Chad Barefoot, the bill leaves enough vagueness for it to be interpreted in the most draconian of ways.
The ironically named “Protect Students in Schools” bill would require teacher candidates to be fingerprint checked and create a state-wide system for all candidates to be screened for a variety of charges: murder, robbery, manslaughter, and refusal to disperse, which some would call “protesting”.
Now for the irony. The cruel irony.
- The timing of this bill. When Billy “Ball of NC Policy Watch reported on the momentum this bill is getting on June 22nd (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/22/could-proposed-teacher-background-check-bill-silence-protesting-educators/), 14 teachers were just arrested for protesting in Raleigh against measures that the governor and General Assembly put in place. They were arrested for “refusal to disperse”. That offense will be on their record. However, many would not really see that as an offense, but as an act of civil disobedience that was calling into question the NCGA and governor’s actual obedience to the state constitution. Seems if those in power want to stop people from protesting actively against what is done in session, then they will threaten the people’s jobs.
- The name, “Protect Students in Schools” bill. It seems if lawmakers really want to protect students from schools, they would make sure that schools were safe places first, fortified with all they needed. Cutting out funds and resources in public schools does not strengthen schools, but rather makes them more vulnerable.
- The co-sponsor, Chad Barefoot. Please remember that the man co-sponsoring his bill also has been a primary sponsor of the following:
– Senate Bill 444 – Teacher Compensation Modifications. This bill raised pay for new teachers, while deliberately ignoring veteran teacher pay in an attempt to raise “average” pay.
– Senate Bill 536 – Students Know Before You Go. This was a way to discourage students from pursuing certain majors because of how they were monetarily presented. Some of those were education preparation programs in UNC system schools which might help explain why he co-sponsored Senate Bill 836.
– Senate Bill 836 – Alternate Teacher Preparation. This is an act that would authorize local school systems to have more lateral entry. What this really means is that you spend less to obtain in many cases less qualified teachers to teach in hard to staff areas. Rather than elevate the teaching profession, you are making the teaching profession less desirable to those in NC.
– Senate Bill 862 – Opportunity Scholarships Forward Funding. This will give more money to vouchers thereby diverting tax-payer money to more religious-based and private schools that do not have to maintain standards that public school must. More importantly, nothing has shown that these vouchers have actually increased student achievement for those who use them.
Also, noteworthy is that Sen. Barefoot was also a co-sponsor of SB2 (2014) that prohibited the expansion of Medicaid for many in North Carolina. That alone HURTS, NOT PROTECTS, many children who attend public schools. His vote for the controversial HB2 bill threatens federal funding for the very schools for which he claims to be wanting to protect.
- The idea of background checks. The House of Representatives in Washington D.C. just blocked legislation that would require more background checks for those seeking to buy firearms. A very large majority of Americans supported the measures of stricter gun control, but a powerful lobbying group called the NRA made sure such measures were not passed. It would hurt their constituency’s business.
There are two very ironic angles here. First, the perceived idea that stricter background checks would infringe on people’s Second Amendment rights is more egregious than creating a background check system to see if anyone used their First Amendment right to free speech. Second, Sen. Chad Barefoot, would probably have rejected the idea of someone having a harder time getting a military grade weapon that could be used at a school like Sandy Hook Elementary because he is “Honored to have the endorsement of the NRA” according to his Facebook page.
- Who checks the background checks. Ball reports, “Decisions about whether previous convictions make a teacher unfit for licensure, which must be renewed every five years, would be left to the State Board of Education, a panel of McCrory appointees.” That means that teachers cited with a conviction of a “crime” like refusal to disperse could be harshly judged by the very people who don’t want them congregating in the first place. Couple that with the removal of due-process rights for new teachers and one can see that this bill is a measure to help silence teachers.
- Private schools? So far, no private schools will have to undergo this type of background checks for their teachers. That’s odd considering that in the next 10 years, the state senate budget asks for almost 1 billion dollars of taxpayer money be used to fund Opportunity Grants that will allow private schools to profit from money that should go into the public school system to protect schools and their students.
Yes, we should keep those who commit murder, rape, abuse, etc. from teaching our children, but allowing for Senate Bill 867 to pass through into law without proper checks and balances will be yet another way for Raleigh to hurt public schools.
Besides, what those 14 teachers did last week was practice their right to bare arms.
The just interlocked them together and made West Jones Street and the rest of the state take notice.