ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE 2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION, THOUSANDS OF NORTH CAROLINA EDUCATORS ARE TAKING A PERSONAL DAY TO BE IN RALEIGH.
West Virginia. Oklahoma. Kentucky. Arizona. Colorado.
In those states, teachers are not “walking out” and confronting lawmakers because of singular issues like salary, benefits, or working conditions.
They are marching for respect. They are rallying for public schools.
On May 16th, teachers in North Carolina will begin to make a stand for their profession and the state’s public schools.
What these teachers and advocates want Raleigh’s lawmakers to understand is that there is a difference between “rewarding” teachers and respecting the teaching profession and the public schools.
A reward is something that is given in recognition of someone’s service, effort, and/or achievement. One could get a reward for doing well on a project or completing a task. Some could look at a bonus check as a reward for accomplishing a goal.
However, NC’s teachers want more than a reward from the General Assembly. They want respect for all of our public school teachers and the public schools which serve a vast majority of our children.
To have respect is to have a deep feeling of admiration for someone because of his abilities, qualities, and value. It is understanding that someone is important and should be taken seriously.
In this highly contested election year, many will be fooled by lawmakers wanting to “reward” the teaching profession with bills that might offer more pay or actually fund a mandate and mistake that for respect. Respect goes much deeper.
That is why teachers and advocates will march and rally on May 16th when the NCGA reconvenes because it reminds policies makers that there are many stark differences between rewards and respect.
- A reward sounds like something that can be used as a political ploy. Respect needs no political prompt.
- A reward could be a one-time gift. Respect is continuous and grows.
- A reward is a reaction to something. Respect guides your actions.
- A reward is giving teachers a small bonus that gets taxed by the state and has no effect on retirement. Respect would be to bring salaries for teachers at least to the national average.
- A reward would be to give a school some sort of distinction because it met a measurement achievement. Respect would be honoring teachers because of actual student growth in the face of factors out of the schools’ control.
- A reward would be providing more textbooks. Respect would be to keep growing per-pupil expenditures to ensure that all students got the resources they need.
- A reward would be giving a one-time pay hike to teachers. Respect would be to make sure they kept getting raises throughout their careers on a fair salary schedule and restoring longevity pay.
- A reward may be speaking highly of principals. Respect would be not ever allowing our average principal salary to rank next to last in the nation for so long.
- A reward may be to alter the teacher evaluation system. Respect would be to restore due-process rights for all teachers.
- A reward may be to give more professional development for teachers. Respect would be restoring pay bumps for graduate degrees.
North Carolina’s teachers have seen what a lack of respect for educators has done to the Old North State in a short amount of time. Once considered a flagship state system, NC is now in a state of regression. So while teachers may not decline a “reward” of a pay raise, they will tell lawmakers personally that affording more respect to teachers, administrators, and teacher assistants could go a long way in helping stop the attrition of teaching talent in North Carolina.
Why? Because if lawmakers respected something they would show it through their actions, not just their campaign speeches and vague promises.
Like teachers in other states have bravely demonstrated, North Carolina’s educators don’t want to be rewarded for teaching.
They want to be respected for being teachers.
Visit May16.org for more information.