I am in receipt of your response to my response to your issuance of an op-ed claiming that Red4Ed was calling for a week-long strike of teachers in October. You posted it to my blog’s Facebook timeline on Saturday. You started, “I admit I do appreciate you calling me out in a forum where I am at least afforded the opportunity to respond.”
Well, you’re welcome. Of course you have the right to respond as I have the right to respond to your response. I also have the right to voice opinions and concerns. It just happens that my concerns are the same when it comes to the treatment of public schools as many others and together we have a put our voices together. One time we got together in Raleigh this past May and aired those concerns as one voice.
And if I remember correctly from your initial Facebook posting you pretty much wanted your words to be in an open forum. You said,
So let’s keep this open. You continued, “Several of the presumptions you’ve made about me are simply false but that is no surprise since the truth would not suit your preferred conclusions about me or this issue.”
That’s funny. I was about to say the same thing about you. But you conveniently numbered them for me and I will respond to each in order.
“1) I am a lifelong resident of NC, born, raised and schooled there and am only now in the process of selling my home and moving to VA. I remain a legal resident of NC as we speak.”
Forgive me for thinking you lived in Virginia. Apparently, I should have read your Facebook profile more between the lines.
Hard not to assume you didn’t live in NC when the very Facebook profile that you posted your op-ed for all to copy and send to newspapers was also on that very same page.
“2) I do have education experience, having been an Assistant Professor at NC A&T for over 3 years and honored to be called as a periodic Guest Instructor at both the National Guard Professional Education Center in Little Rock, AR and at the Army Command & General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, KS.”
Maybe I should have added one more distinction concerning your perspective in my original response – you have never taught in a public high school. Debating about whether one can equate being an assistant professor to a high school teacher is an exercise that others can entertain.
But while you do mention it, I wonder what you might think of the actions of the current NCGA and what it has done to our public university system. Did you see tuition costs getting higher and higher even as the “economy” was recovering? Since NC A&T is one of our most distinguished HBCU’s, what did you think of what Betsy DeVos said about HBCU’s being the original “school choice” experiment?
As the Assistant Professor of Military Science at NC A&T, you were a part of the ROTC program. Those who went through your program probably received financial aid or scholarships through the Army. I had two fraternity brothers myself who were ROTC and both had full scholarships as they had not only earned them, but had chosen the military as their career.
As the Assistant Professor of Military Science at NC A&T, you no doubt valued the preparation that students/cadets had academically in their past to help ensure their ability to perform well in the collegiate classroom. As public high school advocates, that’s what we are trying to maintain. What many high school teachers are asking for is more help for their students. You wanted to make sure that your students had the proper resources, did you not?
And since you taught a specialized curriculum that did not serve a majority of the students, how would you talk to a teacher who taught “specials” in their schools as the unfunded class size mandate was wreaking havoc in school budgets?
“3) This issue was brought to my attention by a current classroom teacher in NC.”
Is this teacher a member of NCAE? Red4EdNC? Organize2020? Has this person been approached to “go on strike” for week in October?
And is this teacher one of the ones who actually is smart? Remember in your op-ed you said, “Apparently they aren’t smart enough to understand the law.
“4) While the graphic does not specifically mention “strike”, it mentions “collective action” in two phases (4&8). Phase 8 also makes the connection between that action and a Legislative response which is what the statute prohibits. Phase 9 provides for an elevated level of that collective action if demands are not met. This is collective bargaining and it is illegal in NC.”
Again, we go back to this graphic:
So, you admit that the word “strike” was never mentioned but your op-ed says that is what is going to happen. And you said, “NC General Statute § 95-98 forbids collective bargaining by all public employees, including teachers.”
Here I will defer to another public school teacher with whom I work whose experience in civics and history far exceeds mine. Think of it as my own version of having something brought to my attention by a classroom teacher.
He is John deVille, veteran educator and public-school activist who authors thesocialstudies.org website. His experience in issues related to public school reform in NC simply dwarfs mine.
Here’s what I think is wrong with Mr. Goetze’s assumptions and conclusions…..
(1) He’s assuming that what Red4EdNC means by “collective action” is “strike.” Being classroom teachers, we’re a tad creative and our portfolio is deep and wide when it comes to collective action. Who knows where all of this will go and we’re not sharing strategies and tactics with those who don’t share our interests, but please sleep easy that we’re a long way off from strike.
(2) Please do a close reading of the statute because what’s prohibited is:
Creating a contract between a collective bargaining unit and our employers. NC has been a right-to-work state, especially with public employees. That prohibition is a vestige of the South’s Jim Crow era. As Dr. David Zonderman, professor of history at NC State explains:
“Here in North Carolina, we are going to celebrate a dubious golden anniversary this summer
. Fifty years ago this June, spurred by fears of union corruption, communism, and (gasp) black and white people organizing together for better jobs and higher wages, the North Carolina legislature imposed a prohibition on public workers collectively bargaining for a legal contract-General Statute (GS) 95-98.”
The unions that the North Carolina’s General Assembly were most concerned about forming were among police officers and firefighters in Charlotte. It’s hard to crack down on African American protesters, allied with progressive whites, if you have a union of white and black cops and firefighters. Those would be the very groups elected officials would have had to summon to maintain discrimination and segregation and to crack down on marchers and protesters with their fire hoses and dogs. In other words, the NC’s state and municipal governments had to maintain Jim Crow among those employees if those employees were the requisite lever to maintain Jim Crow among the broader population. If you and your friends want to maintain a posture of fealty to that reactionary position, that’s your right, but in polite society in 2018, that’s a pretty ugly position.
(3) Since 1959 there have been no contracts between public employees and their employers in NC, nor is there any vehicle to achieve. Thus, there is no danger of any contract being formed between teachers as a collective and our employers.
(4) Our employers are, for the most part, the Boards of Education of the 116 Local Education Agencies of North Carolina. Major Dave, please be very clear on this point, because it goes both to the fine points of the law and the finer points of our Declaration — we have NO grievances with our employers as such, nor we will we ever be taking collective action aimed at them. Please be clear, our grievances are entirely with the North Carolina General Assembly as it has been constituted since January of 2011, continuously under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, and under the previous leadership of House Speaker Thom Tillis and now under the leadership of House Speaker Tim Moore. I refer you to our Declaration on those points where we have issues.
(5) Contracts, collectively negotiated, cannot happen. And we have no grievance with our employers, so § 95-98., § 95-98.1, and § 95-98.2 cannot apply, strike or no strike.
(6) Although I don’t think it was stated by Mr. Goetze, I’d like to address some concerns others on Mr. Goetze’s Facebook page have expressed.
The May 16th march was not a strike. Teachers got the time to go to Raleigh by two different means.
We submitted application to our respective building principals, the agent who acts on behalf of our respective employers, to take what is referred to as a “personal day.” Such applications are fully enshrined in NC statute. By law, the principal must allow that leave of absence so long as the application is made approximately ten or more days prior to the desired leave day. Because some districts were both overwhelmed with leave requests, and, in some cases, superintendents, who are the ultimate representative of our employers were sympathetic to our grievances and our reasons for submitting those leave requests because they know, better than anyone given their deep perspectives, that we are all sharing the same pain with our students, pain brought on by the callousness of the NC General Assembly.
Please also be aware, that in cases where systems did not shut down, like mine, we paid for our subs out of our own pockets. We paid for our own gas money, bus tickets, food, daycare, and all the other expenses entailed in making our collective voices heard on May 16th. We did this not out of greed, but because we are alarmed in what we see happening in our classrooms.
A couple of statistical graphs are in order.
We aren’t “socialists” nor are we looking for some sort of massive “redistribution of wealth.” All we are seeking is a return to the modest, barely adequate funding levels of 2008. If you don’t think that a restoration of public education in NC to the level of quality of service we were able to provide in 2008, that is certainly your prerogative, but please know that is all we are seeking. If you don’t think class sizes, number of classroom assistants (cut in half since 2011), textbooks (talk to a teacher about textbooks in NC classrooms) are worthy goals, that is indeed your prerogative but be clear that is what we are seeking.
Personally, I agree with deVille’s assessment much more than your cursory view of the matter.
Back to your response.
“5) What is not shown in my post or letter is the information from the NCAE 2020 Webinar documents that specifically calls for all member teachers to be absent from the work place for an entire week in October for the express purpose of registering voters in advance of the Fall elections. If you can convince a judge that this does not amount to a strike, walkout or work slowdown, then please plead your case. Just perhaps the left’s left hand (Red4EdNC) doesn’t know what the right hand (NCAE) is doing, but I know teachers don’t live in a vacuum so it is logical that many of them are aware of both sides of this coin and are acting in concert with both.”
Wait. You said that it was Red4EdNC that was calling the strike. Or was it NCAE? And now you are bringing in Organize2020 into the conversation? Do you really know the relationships that these organizations have?
Allow me to address that judge comment you made first. If you previously called what happened in May a walkout, then explain to me how a judge did not have all of us arrested for being on “strike.”
And that webinar document you are referring to is a list of notes and topics that were thrown out at that time. If you interpreted that as a direct plan of action, then that is your problem. Considering that you were alerted to a situation by a classroom teacher who saw some notes from a webinar that he/she was probably not a part of from an organization you never identified in the op-ed you want so many people to publish, then you might want to reassess how you validate what is truth and what might be spreading rumors.
It certainly does not seem the way an assistant professor at a major university would present facts.
You no doubt will want to rebut and / or respond to this latest part of our conversation, but I will leave you with this: while you may consider this to be a partisan issue (your use of the words “let” and “liberal” on many occasions leads me to that conclusion), what public education is really is a public good protected by the state constitution. It is a teacher’s job to advocate for that.
And that is what I and thousands of other public education advocates are doing – many of whom are registered Republicans and Independents.
Because public schools, while a political issue, is not partisan.