Rep. Tim Moore and the North Carolina General Assembly’s Quest to Make Veteran Teachers Extinct

7-11-OldTeachersMug

The powers that rule in the North Carolina General Assembly have been waging a war against public schools in our state for the last four years. Under the guise of “reform,” GOP conservatives driven by ALEC-crafted policies have successfully enabled and instituted privatization efforts in many forms: unregulated charter school development, expansive growth of unproven vouchers, underfunding traditional public schools (early and middle colleges), and even propped an educational neophyte as state superintendent who has passively allowed the very department that is set to protect public schools to be heinously undercut.

However, the latest moves against public schools in North Carolina might signal the next step in overhauling education in the Old North State – the systematic elimination of the veteran teacher.

From the News & Observer’s Will Doran:

The Republican-led legislature has already approved raises for teachers that its leaders say will average out to about 6 percent next year. They have also floated the possibility of bonuses on top of those raises, for some teachers with specialized skills. But Democrats say more is needed, and are rallying behind Cooper’s more expensive plan. He says his plan would give teachers an average raise of 8 percent, and that it also would give raises to veteran teachers, who are left out of the legislative plans (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article211106649.html).

Let me rephrase that.

A gerrymandered lawmaking body is proposing a budget that further indicates that many lawmakers in Raleigh will go to any length to poach the educational profession of veteran teachers.

Rep. Tim Moore in an attempt to defray any more attention from his anti-teacher tendencies literally just announced that there will be raises for teachers again this year – except not for veteran teachers. Just read the last line of the quoted portion of the N&O’s report.

In the last four years, new teachers entering the profession in North Carolina have seen the removal of graduate degree pay bumps and due-process rights. While the “average” salary increases have been most friendly to newer teachers, those pay “increases” do plateau at about Year 15 in a teacher’s career. Afterwards, nothing really happens. Teachers in that position may have to make career-ending decisions.

Without promise of much pay increase and no graduate degree pay bumps, those teachers may have to leave a profession they not only excel in and love, but serve as models for younger teachers to ensure professional integrity, the kind that was allowed to shine in a North Carolina of yesteryear when Republican governors and lawmakers were in the forefront of making sure public schools were a strength. And those teachers will not have due-process rights that would allow them to speak up about issues like compensation for fear of reprisal.

Student will suffer; communities will suffer.

The taking away of retiree state health benefits for teachers hired after January of 2021 is another step to create a system where students are more or less taught by contractors because the endangered species known as the “veteran teacher” will come to the point of extinction.

Lynn Bonner reported in the News & Observer last June (“State retiree health coverage to end for future NC employees”),

Republican state senators want limits on future retiree benefits to control costs and get the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get. The state employee health plan has a $42.2 billion unfunded liability, estimated future costs that are outpacing revenue.

The retiree health care provision is in the budget the legislature passed this week. Republican senators filed a bill limiting future state employees’ retirement benefits that received a committee hearing earlier this year. That bill never went to a vote (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article157928844.html).

That whole idea of getting “the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get” might be one of the most misleading mantras that rules the mindsets of these lawmakers. Why make a public sector service run like a business when public schools aren’t allowed to be businesses? If that were a reality, then schools could treat lawmakers like a Board of Directors of sorts and then rally to oust them at any time beside election years.

 

And that whole revenue debacle? When those same lawmakers enact laws like HB2 and make ill-informed and misguided expenditures like giving the state superintendent legal fund money to sue his own state board, financing pork barrel spending, and expanding unproven vouchers (despite evidence to the contrary http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article157926389.html ) all the while bragging about a surplus as they lower taxes for wealthy people, it is easy to call into doubt that it is the state retirement system causing all of this financial unrest.

Bonner later reports,

Representatives from state employee, retiree and teacher organizations said eliminating the retirement benefit will hurt recruitment and retention. State salaries don’t compete with private-sector wages, they said, so retiree benefits are an important lure.

Mark Jewell, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said everyone thought the proposal to end retiree benefits was dead. “Then, it sneaks up buried in the budget,” he said.”

This proposal “snuck up” because it was meant to.

It was meant to surreptitiously take away more from the teaching profession, which has valiantly fought against the regressive “reforms” of the NC General Assembly. To say that educational issues did not weigh into the elections of Roy Cooper and Josh Stein into office in a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump would sound uneducated. State Treasurer Dale Folwell called it a “knee-jerk reaction.”

No, it was not.

This General Assembly went out of its way to cut Stein’s budget, limit Cooper’s constitutional powers, and keep assaulting the very people who still pose a threat against the privatization of public education – veteran teachers.

Oddly enough, retiree benefits are one of the last recruitment tools that our school systems can use to bring in teachers who make education a profession. Bonner reports,

Richard Rogers, executive director of the N.C. Retired Governmental Employee Association, said the organization is going to try to get the decision reversed before 2021.

“There’s no doubt in my mind – having retiree health brings the best and the brightest to the state,” he said.

Right now, we are not attracting the best and brightest. Just look at the past four years and see what has been done to make teaching an unenviable career in North Carolina. This recent action is making sure that anyone who may want to teach in North Carolina in the future will not stay in the profession for long.

Sen. Chad Barefoot’s Bill SB599 should then not be so puzzling. Bringing in alternate teacher-preparation programs that can be controlled by the state weakens the profession overall. This bill was supposedly introduced to help with the shortage in teachers. Why would we have a shortage of teachers?

That’s not a rhetorical question.

If the trends stay in place and we as a state do not replace those in Raleigh with lawmakers who will fully fund public schools and reinstate the very items that attract the best and brightest, then we will literally make the North Carolina veteran teacher an extinct entity.

Something else in Bonner’s report really shed light on the process by which those in Raleigh have promoted their version of secretive “democracy.” It came in an email response from the Office of State Human Resources.

“We value state employees, and reducing benefits for them potentially sends the wrong message about the important work they do and the services they provide for the people of North Carolina. We would appreciate an opportunity to openly discuss, study and collaborate on this important issue.”

  • Openly discuss?
  • Study?
  • Collaborate?

If there is one thing that many GOP lawmakers like Berger, Moore, Barefoot, Tillman, and others of their ilk (who don’t have term limits) despise more than veteran public school teachers, it’s open dialogue that may expose their hypocrisy.

And if they actually studied and researched, they would see that most every “reform” that they are enacting has a terrible track record in other states.

And they sure as hell don’t collaborate unless it is in a locked room with only those of like opinions.

Veteran teachers openly discuss, study, and collaborate.

And we will fight.

Especially tomorrow, May 16th in Raleigh.

2 thoughts on “Rep. Tim Moore and the North Carolina General Assembly’s Quest to Make Veteran Teachers Extinct

  1. You’re 100% correct about the war on veteran teachers. Out of 35 people in our department, 17 had 25 or more years of experience. I had 30 years but wanted to pay off my home before retiring. Well, a deal was struck between the HR Dept and the Executive Director of our department, and all 17 of us were BULLIED and HARRASSED on a daily basis, called in for questioning about every little thing we did or every Friday at 5:30 pm we’d receive an email summons to appear before the Director or Asst. Director at 8 am on Monday. Great way to spend your weekend, wondering what you did now that they didn’t like. One by one, our most experienced staff dropped like flies from the unrelenting pressure on top of doing their jobs. I was the last one to go. Not one of us were allowed to have an exit interview. We were replaced with new, untested recent graduates purely for budget purposes.

    Veteran teachers have withstood multiple pay freezes of 7 years and more. The official state pay scale was abandoned several years ago, which allowed for teachers to go up a step for each year of experience. Teachers no longer get paid more for obtaining advanced degrees. Last year their longevity pay was taken away, creating a hefty pay cut which received zero publicity by the General Assembly and no notice to the public. At the end of the current school year, all teachers will lose their tenure. There was good reason for that protection being put in place! Beginning teachers have received all of those “raises” that the GOP blowhards are touting. Veteran teachers got either nothing or a $350 bonus, taxed heavily, of course. New teachers employed in 2021 will forfeit the benefit of health insurance coverage upon retirement. When an educated professional has to work two jobs during the school year and then has to find employment for the summer months but still can’t afford to buy a home or start a family, it’s a recipe for teachers to move out of NC or abandon teaching for another career. If we can’t unseat the GOP members of the General Assembly soon, our pensions will be on the block next. Then there will be only unregulated, non-accredited charter schools in NC where there is no required curriculum, no minimum hours or days that school must be in session, no state testing is required to judge how well students are progressing, and the teachers aren’t required to be certified. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to achieve successful, meaningful learning for our children? What about a free APPROPRIATE education that the state is required to provide all students including students with disabilities? We hoped that our march on May 16 would also serve to wake people up to the dire future looming ahead for the children who we hope and pray will be educated enough to take over for the future. I worry for them every day.

    Like

  2. I’m a retired teacher currently receiving a pension. I’m afraid the next thing they’re coming after is my pension, then my health care plan.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s