The State Superintendent Meets With Privatizers on Monday, Then 40 People Were Laid Off at DPI on Friday

On Monday,  Johnson was busily entertaining former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and a multitude of other politicians who have made it their job to privatize public education in North Carolina.

meeting1

jebmark1

On Friday, he laid off 40 people from the Department of Public Instruction due to a budget cut made by many lawmakers in the same room as Johnson and Bush in a year where the state supposedly had a surplus.

From T. Keung Hui in  today’s News & Observer,

Layoff notices were given Friday to 40 employees at the state Department of Public Instruction — including several who work with North Carolina’s low-performing schools — to help meet a $5.1 million budget cut ordered by state lawmakers.

Most of the cuts were in Educator Support Services, a division that helps low-performing schools and districts, and in the Information Technology Division. In addition to the 40 layoffs, 21 vacant positions were eliminated, according to State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson.

“Today, we implemented the budget reductions required by law for the 2018-19 fiscal year,” Johnson said in a written statement. “The plan we developed, drafted by members of the DPI leadership team with the understanding and support of the State Board of Education, was informed by the recommendations contained in the third-party operational review of the agency completed earlier this year by Ernst & Young (EY) “ (https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article214065504.html).

Those same state lawmakers also gave Johnson 700,000 dollars to hire people loyal only to Johnson who were performing tasks already fulfilled and to cover legal fees in a lawsuit with the state board.

432

300

Those same lawmakers also gave Johnson a million dollars to pay Ernst & Young to perform an audit to find supposed “wasteful” uses of funds in DPI.

They concluded that DPI was underfunded.

1.7 million dollars is exactly a third of the amount of money cut from the budget for DPI. Wonder how many jobs that would translate to?

Johnson’s remarks in the N&O report were submitted by a written report. He could meet Jeb Bush personally, but was he there to give the DPI employees who have been there much longer than he has their notices?

What Johnson said later in his written statement is even more egregious.

“I support the decisions we made, but we did not make them lightly. I thank all the affected employees for their hard work in support of our public schools. Each will have the option to receive transition assistance, and we are adamant about helping each affected employee who wants our help to find new employment.”

All jobs in DPI that relate to charter schools and the Innovative School District were not touched.

This just keeps proving something that most public school advocates already knew: Mark Johnson is simply toxic for North Carolina’s public school system. Voting out the puppet masters who enable him in November could go a long way into reclaiming our public schools.

 

 

 

“Get Up” – And Vote! Playing R.E.M. At The Ballot Box

R.E.M._-_Get_Up

“Get Up” and vote.

Absentee ballot. Early voting. Election Day. Just “Get Up” and vote.

Immigration “policies,” Supreme Court appointees, exiting from multi-lateral agreements and treaties, Muslim bans, tariffs, mass shootings on schools and media outlets, partisan politics before principles, etc. – these are all part of isolationist nightmares, bad dreams that have become reality and more than “complicating” life.

Voting might be the single most powerful action people (especially 18-24 year-olds) can take in this “midterm” season. Every restrictive Voter ID law that is supposedly combatting non-existent voter fraud is an attempt to get people to not “wake up” and exercise that right, a right to make real dreams that actually “complement” our lives. The next 4+ months is not a time to get “sleepy.”

For so many people, “life is hard” with no access to health care or living wages and discrimination running rampant.

Help them. Help them “get up.”

Because you don’t want to wake up sometime in late November and ask, “Where (did) time go?” or realize that all of those music boxes in the bridge of the song no longer play.

Tuesday, November 6.

 

 Sleep delays my life (get up, get up)
Where does time go? (get up, get up, get up)
I don’t know

Sleep, sleep, sleepy head (get up, get up, get up)
Wake it up, up (get up, get up)
You’ve got all your life (way up ahead)
(Get up, get up, get up)

Dreams they complicate my life (Dreams they complement my life)
I’ve seen you laying pined (get up, get up)
I’ve seen you laying pined (get up, get up)

Life is rough, rough (get up, get up, get up)
I’ve seen you laying down (get up)
With the loving kind (get up, get up)
I know life is hard, hard (where goes your time?)
Where to turn? Where to turn? (get up)

Dreams they complicate my life (Dreams they complement my life)
Dreamtime

Dreams they complicate my life (Dreams they complement my life)
This time, no escape, I wake up (get up, get up)
(get up, get up, get up, get up, get up, get up, get up)

 

 

 

 

This is What Racial Gerrymandering Looks Like in NC Education “Reform”

in the 2015-2016 school year, the following demographics concerning student membership in NC public schools were recorded:

breakdown

The 2015-2016 was the last school year before the election cycle that placed the current NC General Assembly members in office, the same people who have crafted recent budgets.

Yesterday Grow Great NC convened a meeting between NC’s education policy makers and Jeb Bush. Here is a tweet showing and identifying many of them.

meeting2

There’s Jason Saine who loves charters. Furthermore, he was just named the new National Chairman of ALEC and is helping to open yet another charter school called West Lake Preparatory school that is affiliated with Charter Schools USA – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/12/08/open-letter-to-rep-jason-saine-youre-a-state-representative-fight-for-all-public-schools-not-a-new-charter-school/.

There’s Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who sits on the state school board and lambasted DPI under Dr. June Atkinson for its report on charter schools that said they were disproportionally representing populations. It is also worth noting that Forest is also on the state board of education and is ramping up for a run at the governor’s mansion in 2020.

There were more people there.

meeting1

 

Take a look at those demographics.

100% white. Almost all of them male.

Want to take a guess how many years of classroom experience is in that room? Yet, they are sitting in nice suits making policy about the very school they really do not know about.

That looks more like racial gerrymandering.

 

Where’s State Supt. Mark Johnson? When the Leader of the Public Schools Refuses to be Part of the Public

This past week the North Carolina General Assembly emphatically snubbed the state’s public school system again when it refused to send a statewide infrastructure bond to the ballot in November to let voters decide on a 1.9 billion dollar package to help rebuild crumbling public schools around the state.

It is also toying with the idea of imposing an income tax cap that may hurt public school funding in times of recession and economic downturn.

Two vitally important issues concerning the health of public schools. So where has State Superintendent Mark Johnson been? Has he said anything? Has he pushed back for the sake of the very schools that he is supposed to lead?

 

waldo

When nearly a fifth of the state’s teaching force showed up in Raleigh on May 16th, where was Mark Johnson?

IMG_6484

Not in Raleigh.

But he will show up for “campaign” events like the one this week for Grow Great NC conversing with ALEC aligned politicians like Jeb Bush who might be one of the biggest privatizers in the nation.

jebmark1

So why is Mark Johnson being so “private?” That’s because we have an elected official who refuses to be part of the public.

Imagine you are an official of the state elected by the public. Your job is to lead the state’s public school system. You are the head of the Department of Public Instruction. You are the lead public school instructor. You control public information. You oversee taxpayer money that comes from the public.

Should you not be publicly available? Because that’s a lot of public involved – six “publics” in the first paragraph alone.

From the “Organization” page of DPI’s website (http://www.ncpublicschools.org/organization/):

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) is charged with implementing the state’s public school laws and the State Board of Education’s policies and procedures governing pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public education. The elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction leads the Department and functions under the policy direction of the State Board of Education.

The agency provides leadership and service to the 115 local public school districts and 2,500+ traditional public schools, 150+ charter schools, and the three residential schools for students with hearing and visual impairments. The areas of support include curriculum and instruction, accountability, finance, teacher and administrator preparation and licensing, professional development and school business support and operations.

The NCDPI develops the Standard Course of Study, which describes the subjects and course content that is taught in North Carolina public schools, and the assessments and accountability model used to evaluate student, school and district success. In 2016-2017 Department staff are developing North Carolina’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan. This work is being informed by public comments collected in 12 regional meetings and through feedback collected from educators and others. The states ESSA plan will be submitted to the US Department of Education in September 2017.

The NCDPI administers annual state and federal public school funds totaling approximately $9.2 billion and licenses the approximately 117,000 teachers and administrators who serve public schools. The NCDPI’s primary offices are in Raleigh, with four regional alternative licensing centers in Concord, Fayetteville, Elm City and Catawba. Approximately 30,000 new teacher and administrator licenses are issued annually from these centers. The NCDPI’s work extends to the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching with locations in Cullowhee and Ocracoke, and the NC Virtual Public School – the second largest virtual public school in the nation. The state agency also works closely with nine Regional Education Service Alliances/ Consortia and six regional accountability offices.

There’s a lot of duties in that job description. But is it not ironic that many of those duties seemed to have been ignored? Look at the above job description again (first three paragraphs) with what is known to have happened and what is still happening.

 

There is no other office in the state of North Carolina that has the word “public” associated with it more. The job description alone has the word “public” in it TWELVE times. And the web address has the word “public” in it – http://www.ncPUBLICschools.org.

That’s unacceptable. As the head of DPI and as the overseer of the “assessments and accountability model used to evaluate student, school and district success,” Johnson would be familiar with the distinct standards that teachers and educators like himself would have to show at least proficiency in.

One of them is communication with stakeholders – students, parents, administration, others.

If you were to look at the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Rubric (easily found in .pdf form on the web), you could do a “find” for the word “communicate.”

rubric

It occurs over 20 times.

Add the word “communication” to the search.

You get over 40 hits.

Communication means being “public” with those who are stakeholders. For Johnson that’s everybody in the state of North Carolina, but if he were being measured by the rubric that he actually is responsible for and should model as the instructional leader of the PUBLIC school system, then he may not be proficient.

When a teacher is evaluated, there are certain pieces of evidence that can be introduced to verify and validate rubric scores.

Imagine how Johnson should be scored. Consider the following pieces of evidence.

  1. Mark Johnson, the state superintendent of public instruction, may be violating state law by failing to respond to a public records request, according to an articleby N.C. Policy Watch’s Billy Ball, a former INDY staff writer (https://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2017/06/06/nc-policy-watch-state-superintendent-of-public-instruction-may-be-violating-the-law-by-ignoring-records-requests).
  2. WRAL News requested an interview with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson to discuss the Senate’s budget. Instead, he emailed a statement, saying he looks forward to “continuing our work with the NC House and Senate as they transform education in North Carolina” (http://www.wral.com/senate-proposes-cutting-8-state-education-staffers-including-42-year-employee/16707728/).
  3. Johnson has declined multiple interviews with Policy Watch since January, although he has spoken to a handful of other media organizations in the first six months of his term. He also did not respond to Policy Watch communications regarding this report (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/06/06/state-superintendent-may-violating-law-ignoring-public-records-request/).
  4. The tour will begin at a Winston-Salem high school, although press will reportedly not be allowed to join. Prior to his election as state superintendent, Johnson was a corporate attorney in Winston-Salem and a local school board member (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/02/02/state-superintendent-mark-johnson-begin-listening-tour-winston-salem/#sthash.YoYxJcaT.dpbs).
  5. In an interview with WRAL News last week, Johnson declined to say what other positions he would like to hire if the bill passes (http://www.wral.com/nc-superintendent-hopes-to-hire-chief-innovation-officer-other-positions-with-help-from-lawmakers/16684497/).
  6. Johnson isn’t sharing what those ideas are just yet (http://www.wral.com/ousted-nc-superintendent-on-successor-how-do-i-help-an-infant-in-public-education-/16236296/).
  7. Johnson did not agree to an interview this week, but the superintendent—a Republican who defeated  Atkinson in November’s election—said in a statement Tuesday other exceptions have been allowed in the days since. Johnson did not provide specifics, but those exceptions apparently include updates from the department’s finance office, which has continued to post reports (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/07/12/state-school-superintendent-muzzles-communication-dpi/).

That’s not being very public.

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Thing Jeb Bush Ever Did For North Carolina Is Prove That Poverty Severely Affects Our Public Schools (And That Vouchers Are Bad)

Yesterday, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a guest appearance with Mark Johnson at a Q&A session attempting to highlight positively spun educational reforms in North Carolina.

Alex Granados of EdNC.org reported on it in his recent report “New education organization brings Jeb Bush to town.” He opens,

Grow Great NC, Inc., a new group focused on education reform, kicked off its first official day as an organization yesterday by bringing former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush to town. Bush took part in a question and answer session with state Superintendent Mark Johnson at the City Club in downtown Raleigh, and spent much of the time highlighting his state’s educational achievements and congratulating North Carolina leaders on taking Florida’s lead. 

“There are 50 state Senate presidents in the country,” Bush said to Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, after the senator introduced him. “I can’t think of one who has done more for education reform than you” (https://www.ednc.org/2018/06/27/new-education-organization-brings-jeb-bush-to-town/).  

Grow Great NC will garner its own post at a later date, but it is funny to think that the state now has Grow Great NC and BEST NC working separately. Now we as a state can be best and great at the same time!

Ironically the picture associated with Granados’s piece shows Bush and Johnson at a table with water bottles. If you as a teacher with just three years of classroom experience were at that table with Bush and Johnson, then you would be the most informed person to talk about public education.

For those who are unaware, Jeb Bush is the overall architect and champion of the school performance grading system that NC models it’s program after. Those school performance grades are central to the school report card system that Johnson so eagerly wants to take ownership of.

But those school performance grades are helping advance a politically partisan effort to privatize the North Carolina public school system.

Just follow along.

Public Schools First NC (PSFNC.org), an organization that supports advocacy of public education in North Carolina, regularly sends out very informative factoids through social media that give texture to the landscape of the politics associated with public education.

After the last couple of disastrous budget proposals for public education by the North Carolina General Assembly, it takes a lot of eyes to sift through the muck and make sure that all deficiencies are identified and brought to light because those who made this budget did so behind closed doors without political discourse and with partisan agendas. PSFNC.org is invaluable in that respect.

One of those agendas is to help ensure that vouchers will continue to be funded and expanded at astronomical rates.

Public Schools First NC tweets this graphic every once in a while to remind us about the school performance grades:

Budget fact

Those school performance grades are the ones based on the model developed by Jeb Bush when he was in Florida. It’s disastrous and places a lot of emphasis on achievement scores of amorphous, one-time testing rather than student growth throughout the entire year.

It’s part of the “proficiency versus growth” debate that really came to the forefront during the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings when she could not delineate between whether test scores are used to measure student “achievement” or student “growth.”

The people who made the decision to keep both the school performance grading system formula where it is and still expand vouchers ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFICIENCY AND GROWTH. IT HELPS TO VALIDATE THEIR WANT OF MORE VOUCHERS.

If one thing is for certain, North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.

With the tweet, PSFNC.org also has a link to a quick fact “sheet” about school performance grades in North Carolina. It is very much worth a look on any person’s part, especially public school advocates – http://www.publicschoolsfirstnc.org/resources/fact-sheets/quick-facts-a-f-school-performance-grades-2/?platform=hootsuite.

PSFNC1

There’s a table in the report that talks about the link between these grades and poverty levels from 2015–16 Performance and Growth of North Carolina Public Schools Executive Summary, NC DPI.

PSFNC2

You can also refer to another posting from this blog from last year that talks about the correlation between the grades and state poverty levels – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/09/05/map-it-and-it-becomes-very-apparent-that-poverty-affects-schools/.

Interestingly enough, in the school year 2019 2020, the school performance grade scale will shift from a fifteen-point scale to a ten-point scale. Do you know what that means?

IT WILL BE HARDER FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO QUALIFY AS PASSING. IN FACT, SCHOOLS COULD HAVE A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF STUDENT GROWTH AND STILL GET A LOWER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE GRADE!

There will be more failing schools. This comes from a legislative body that endorsed the state board last school year to institute a ten-point scale for all high school grading systems to help ensure higher graduation rates, but now shrinks scales for those schools’ performance grades.

With policies that still hurt the working poor and those in poverty (which in NC affects over 20% of students) and the refusal to expand Medicaid and the other policies that hurt poorer regions, it is almost certain that poverty will have as much if not a bigger role in school performance grades in the near future.

Guess what else is happening in 2019-2010? Voucher expansion! From a recent budget:

SECTION 6.6.(b) G.S. 115C-562.8(b) reads as rewritten: “(b) The General Assembly finds that, due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students, it is imperative that the State provide an increase of funds of at least ten million dollars ($10,000,000) each fiscal year for 10 years to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve. Therefore, there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve the following amounts for each fiscal year to be used for the purposes set forth in this section:
Fiscal Year Appropriation

2017-2018: $44,840,000
2018-2019: $54,840,000
2019-2020: $64,840,000
2020-2021: $74,840,000
2021-2022: $84,840,000
2022-2023: $94,840,000
2023-2024: $104,840,000
2024-2025: $114,840,000
2025-2026: $124,840,000
2026-2027: $134,840,000

For the 2027-2028 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve the sum of one hundred forty-four million eight hundred forty Page 14 Senate Bill 257-Ratified thousand dollars ($144,840,000) to be used for the purposes set forth in this section. When developing the base budget, as defined by G.S. 143C-1-1, for each fiscal year specified in this subsection, the Director of the Budget shall include the appropriated amount specified in this subsection for that fiscal year.”

Read that first line again: “due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students.”

That “critical need” has been created in part by making sure that many schools look bad – i.e., school performance grades. With a shrinking scale, more schools will “fail” and most of those schools will have higher levels of poverty in their student populations.

Those are exactly the students who will be targeted for expanding vouchers, because the Opportunity Grants are supposed to help “low-income” students.

And look when that expansion will start to take place – the school year of 2018-2019 with another 10 million dollars. However, our state budgets go in cycles of two years. That means that the next budget if the powers that be stay in power can come back and expand vouchers even more.

Starting right when those school performance grades change scales.

They know damn well the difference between proficiency and growth – the less proficient public schools look in the eyes of the public through a lens that the NC General Assembly prescribes, the more growth for vouchers in this state.

Thanks, Jeb!

Not really.

 

The Next NCGA Special Session Should be in an Elementary School Trailer

275px-Portable_classroom_building_at_Rock_Creek_Elementary_School_-_Washington_County,_Oregon

 

If you have not read Justin Parmenter’s op-ed in the News & Observer entitled “We need to upgrade our school buildings. The legislature blew it” then please do. It is on point as all of Parmenter’s commentary is.

He talked about the walking contradiction of the North Carolina General Assembly in not even considering placing the state-wide school bond to help replace crumbling school buildings throughout the state even with a class-size mandate still lurks for next year.

As reported by T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer this week:

North Carolina residents are likely to vote this fall on amendments to change the state constitution, but they won’t get a chance to decide on funding for school construction.

Calls for a $1.9 billion statewide school construction bond referendum were among the demands made by the 19,000 teachers who marched in Raleigh in May. Advocates for the school bond say the state needs to step up because aging schools are crumbling around North Carolina and some communities are too poor to pay for their school needs.

But instead of a school bond, legislators are debating what constitutional amendments to put on the fall ballot before they leave Raleigh next week. Proposed amendments cover such topics as requiring voters to show ID, capping the state’s income tax rate, ensuring crime victims’ rights and guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish(http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article213525519.html?__twitter_impression=true).

Almost a fifth of the teaching force in the entire state came to Raleigh on May 16th demanding that the NCGA fully fund schools. That school bond issue was really a no-brainer. It simply would ask the North Carolina General Assembly to poll the state on whether it would want to fund a statewide school bond to help rebuild the infrastructure of the public school system, especially in areas that were most cash-strapped.

But the NCGA will not do that. Maybe the next session in which they convene they can meet in a bunch of school trailers.

Like a bunch of our students do.

Every school day.

All of This “Reform” and North Carolina Ranks 48th

This past week The Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation released a report called Grading the States which ranked how states treat public education (http://schottfoundation.org/report/grading-the-states).

It is easy to look at the political leanings of research groups which conduct studies and see a particular bent, but the Network for Public Education is headed by Dr. Diane Ravitch, arguably the most revered educational historian writing today. At one time she served as the Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush. She was at one time very much involved with national standards and No Child Left Behind, but upon viewing the trend to corporate reform movements in public education, she became a more outspoken advocate for public schools especially when it came to high-stakes testing.

Simply put, Dr. Ravitch has seen all sides.

This study is not one that measures how states treat teachers. There is not a measure necessarily about teacher salaries and working conditions, but it is a report that talks about how each state treats its public school system.

Needless to say, NC does not rank very highly.

mapnpe

Valerie Strauss highlighted the recent NPE / Schott Foundation Report in The Washington Post and succinctly highlighted what factors were looked at.

All 50 states and Washington, D.C., were evaluated on five factors:

When talking about “types and extent of school privatization,” NC has almost everything to offer: an ISD, virtual charters, Opportunity Grants, etc.

Now think of HB 514 that will allow for cities to have their own charter schools in already predominantly white, affluent areas.

Now think of the recent NC State report on vouchers that pretty much concluded how NOT transparent the system is.

The list goes on and on.

Strauss continues in her piece,

Here’s what the report found:

  • Twenty-eight states and the District have some form of voucher program — traditional, education savings accounts or tax-credit scholarships. The vast majority have multiple programs — Wisconsin, Ohio and Arizona each have five programs.
  • All but three states have a voucher program, charter program or both.
  • Thirty-three states and the District allow for-profit companies to manage their charter schools, and four states also allow for-profit charter schools.
  • Nineteen states fail to include additional state and local civil rights protections for voucher students beyond race, ethnicity and national origin. Only one state — Maryland — protects LGBTQ students in private schools that receive vouchers.
  • Among the states with voucher programs, only one mandates providing services for English-language-learning students, and 18 states do not mandate services for students with disabilities in the program.
  • Twenty-three states and the District fail to protect students in voucher programs from religious discrimination.
  • Fifteen states with voucher programs fail to require background checks for teachers and employees in schools receiving vouchers.
  • Eighteen states with voucher programs have no mandate for transparency in student performance in one or more of their programs, and the majority do not require students to take state tests.
  • Nine states have at least one program that does not require private schools receiving vouchers to be accredited or even registered.
  • Of the 44 states with charter laws, 28 of them and the District fail to require the same teacher certification as schools in the public school district.
  • Thirty states and the District give children of board members, employees and other groups an advantage when it comes to enrollment.
  • Thirteen states have no conflict-of-interest requirements between charter board members and service providers.
  • Charter school students with disabilities are at a disadvantage in 39 states and the District because they do not clearly establish how services should be provided to those students.

You can read the entire report here:  https://www.scribd.com/document/382349362/Grading-the-States#from_embed.

And below is the three rankings by state that the report generates:

rankingsnpe

48th out of 51.

 

Due-Process Rights and Career Status for Teachers Are That Important

due process

If due-process rights are not restored for new teachers, then the idea of having a rally or a march like that one on May 16th to advocate for students and schools ten to fifteen years from now would likely never happen.

They are that important! Their removal was a beginning step in a patient, scripted, and ALEC-allying plan that systematically tries to weaken a profession whose foundation is advocating for public schools.

Due-process removal actually weakens the ability of the teaching force in NC to speak up and advocate a little each year as veteran teachers retire and are replaced by new teachers who do not receive those rights.

One of the first items that the GOP controlled General Assembly attempted to pass in the early part of this decade was the removal of due-process right for all teachers. Commonly called “tenure,” due process rights are erroneously linked to the practice that colleges use to award “tenure” to professors. Actually, they really are not the same.

What due-process means is that a teacher has the right to appeal and defend himself / herself when an administrator seeks to terminate employment. It means that a teacher cannot be fired on the spot for something that is not considered an egregious offense.

Of course, if a teacher does something totally against the law like inappropriate relations with students, violence, etc., then due-process rights do not really apply. But a new principal in a school does not have the right to just clean house because of right-to-work laws. Teachers with due process rights cannot just be dismissed with the swish of a wand.

Thanks to NCAE and some courageous teachers like my friend in my district, the courts decided that it would be a breach of contract for veteran teachers who had already obtained career-status. But that did not cover newer teachers who will not have the chance to gain career status and receive due process rights.

What gets lost in the conversation with the public is that due-process rights are a protective measure for students and schools. Teachers need to know that they can speak up against harsh conditions or bad policies without repercussions. Teachers who are not protected by due-process will not be as willing to speak out because of fear.

Simply put, veteran teachers’ records prove their effectiveness or they would not have gotten continuing licenses. Teachers with due-process rights actually work to advocate for schools and students without fear of sudden reprisal.

One of the Most Important Tools In Helping Our Public Schools – The Absentee Ballot

It’s a simple document. Easy to find. AND VERY POWERFUL.

If you know any college student who will not be home in November, send him or her this.

If you know of anyone who might not be able to go vote at a polling station on Election Day or will have a hard time getting to early voting, then send him or her this.

If you know of someone who is confined by sickness or any other situation which would require assistance, then use this form and help them.

absentee voter

All of the information can be found here: https://www.ncsbe.gov/absentee-voting-mail.

And if you know of anyone who can’t use an absentee ballot because he /she is not registered to vote, then send he /she this:

VoterReg

It can be found here: https://www.ncsbe.gov/Portals/0/FilesP/NCVRRegFormv102013eng.pdf.

It’s a simple document. Easy to find. AND VERY POWERFUL.

Not Allowing for NC to Vote on a Statewide School Bond is Yet Another Way the NCGA is Hurting Public Schools

In this session of the North Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers roaming the halls of West Jones Street have produced some rather contradictory and antithetical pieces of legislation and ignored the very premise of a representative government: allowing the voice of the people to be heard.

This is especially true with issues on public education.

On May 16th, 20,000 teachers came to Raleigh in the largest single march and rally for public education and in response, the General Assemble decided to pass the budget for public education through a committee report rather than with debate and amendments.

This is the same NCGA

  • in which some have entertained having teachers carry weapons, but at the same time making them report to Raleigh every video they show in class to people who never have conducted a lesson plan;
  • that is limiting how much people affected by hog farm waste practices can sue big companies for but allows for pork-barrel spending that kills much needed bills (school psychologists) or directs money to districts in obvious campaign ploys (remember DonorsChoose.org);
  • that allows for vouchers to be used in unregulated private schools under the auspicies of “families know best for their children” but at the same time has members who want to drug test people who get other types of monetary aid used to buy food;
  • that wants to put an income tax cap on the ballot as a constitutional amendment but now wants to allow property taxes to be used for more school funding;
  • that has a bill to place “In God We Trust” in each school on a plaque when the very dollar bills they refuse to send to schools already has “In God We Trust” printed on them.

So it is not surprising that the NCGA is not even considering placing the state-wide school bond to help replace crumbling school buildings throughout the state even with a class-size mandate still lurks for next year.

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As reported by T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer today,

North Carolina residents are likely to vote this fall on amendments to change the state constitution, but they won’t get a chance to decide on funding for school construction.

Calls for a $1.9 billion statewide school construction bond referendum were among the demands made by the 19,000 teachers who marched in Raleigh in May. Advocates for the school bond say the state needs to step up because aging schools are crumbling around North Carolina and some communities are too poor to pay for their school needs.

But instead of a school bond, legislators are debating what constitutional amendments to put on the fall ballot before they leave Raleigh next week. Proposed amendments cover such topics as requiring voters to show ID, capping the state’s income tax rate, ensuring crime victims’ rights and guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article213525519.html?__twitter_impression=true).

Almost a fifth of the teaching force in the entire state came to Raleigh on May 16th demanding that the NCGA fully fund schools. This school bond issue was really a no-brainer. It simply would ask the North Carolina General Assembly to poll the state on whether it would want to fund a statewide school bond to help rebuild the infrastructure of the public school system, especially in areas that were most cash-strapped.

But the NCGA will not do that. That shows their priorities.

Ironic that the same day that state wide school bond referendum could have been voted on is also the same day that everybody in the NCGA is up for reelection.