D.C.: Teacher Fired by Rhee Wins Arbitration After 9 Years of Delays, Will Receive Lost Compensation and His Job Back – What Impact Might This Have in North Carolina?

First, I will ask you to read the article the Dr. Ravitch has on her post. It is below. Secondly, I  will ask you to read a post from January of 2017 from my blog about when BESTNC brought in Michelle Rhee to talk to legislators about education in a closed door session without press and without teachers. Needless to say that Rhee might have been touting PROJECT IMPACT (An Open Letter to BEST NC Concerning Meeting With Michelle Rhee -Every Public School Teacher Needs To Be Aware Of This).

rhee

Diane Ravitch's blog

Michelle Rhee always boasted about how many teachers she fired. She was sure that “bad teachers” were the root of the low academic performance in D.C. She loved her IMPACT program, which weeded out teachers, and many good teachers were fired and went elsewhere, where they were not ineffective.

Here is one teacher who fought back and won. It took nine long years, but he won. Michelle Rhee ruined his life.

For nine years, Jeff Canady lived in a cash-strapped limbo. The D.C. Public Schools teacher was fired in 2009 after 18 years in city classrooms, the school system deeming him ineffective.

Canady, 53, contested his dismissal, arguing that he was wrongly fired and that the city was punishing him for being a union activist and for publicly criticizing the school system.

For nearly a decade, Canady, jobless and penniless, waited for a decision in his case — until now.

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The Contradiction of Educational Reform and the Paradox of Great Teachers

Contradiction versus paradox. They are not that different, but in actuality they are.

Merriam Webster defines a “contradiction” as,

  • : the act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else
  • : a difference or disagreement between two things which means that both cannot be true

Here are some examples:

  • “Do what I say, not as I do.”
  • “Sure the food is fresh. We microwave it right here.”
  • “After I work out at the YMCA, I go to Krispy Kreme and reward myself with a dozen donuts.”
  • Corporate reform initiatives work well in public education.

Merriam Webster defines a “paradox” as,

  • : something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible
  • : someone who does two things that seem to be opposite to each other or who has qualities that are opposite
  • : a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true

Here are some examples:

  • “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”
  • “You must surrender to win.”
  • “You learn to fail before you learn to succeed.”
  • Teachers still raising student achievement in the face of debilitating reform measures.

I make mention of public education because there may be no other profession/field/public service that shows the contradiction versus paradox relationship so well.

Since the inception of the No Child Left Behind initiative, American public education has been a hotbed for reform after reform to link student achievement and teacher/school effectiveness to standardized tests. That movement was even further pushed with Race to the Top. And some states like North Carolina have taken so many steps to reform education in such a small time that the shoes of change have no souls/soles left while walking a path with no map.

Contradiction #1 – You can best measure non-standardized students with standardized tests. Student achievement and student growth are not the same thing. One is a measurable with controlled variables and treats students as a number or a statistic. Student growth is taking the individual student and assessing authentically where he/she began and how far he/she grew to a goal.

If one looks at how schools are graded in North Carolina, then he will see that “test scores” are taken into account much more in assigning school letter grades than student growth. If you look at the grades for schools in NC this past year, you will not only see a lot of high-poverty schools showing up in the “D” an “F” range, but if you look really closely, you will see that these schools do a lot to help students grow.

Contradiction #2 – There is a one-size fits all reform or pedagogical approach for all schools. Not so. Different student populations have different obstacles that may affect student growth like poverty, economic development of the area, access to educational opportunities outside of school, etc. Factors that affect the lives of students outside of class can have everything to do with how they perform in class.

Contradiction #3 – Giving schools a certain amount of money is the same thing as fully funding them. The state of North Carolina makes many claims that it is spending more money overall on public schools than ever before. However, the state of North Carolina is spending less money per pupil than before the Great Recession. The contradiction here is that just because there is “more” money does not mean that schools are fully funded. Population growth alone can expose that contradiction.

Contradiction #4 – Allowing for-profit entities to run charter schools, Innovative School Districts, and virtual high schools means you are progressive. It really means you are re-forming education so that someone can make a profit from tax payer money.

Contradiction #5 – Vouchers work well for students. Ask Milwaukee. Ask any other major system that implemented them if vouchers really worked. The only true statement that can be said about the use of vouchers is that it takes money from the very public schools that need the money in the first place to hire the people and get the resources to educate each student effectively.

Contradiction #6 – Class sizes do not matter to student performance. North Carolina literally removed class size caps. Any public school teacher could vouch that class size means so much when it comes to student/teacher interaction.

Contradiction #7 – Teachers with continuing contracts and wrongfully labeled “tenure” are the ones who are burdening the system. Actually, teachers with due process rights (which is erroneously referred to as “tenure” – not the type associated with professors in college) cannot just be dismissed with the swish of a wand. Their 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.

And there are many more contradictions that could be listed.

Now here’s the lone paradox, and to paraphrase a quote from Andreas Schliecher* – Despite the many, politically-motivated reform efforts by Raleigh and the characterizations by many that public school teachers have an easy job with short hours and months off in the summer, the fact is that our dedicated and successful teachers work long hours all year long to educate students and educate themselves without many needed resources and support on the legislative level.

I’ll take that paradox over all of the contradictions any day.

The original quote is, “Despite the characterization of some that teaching is an easy job, with short hours and summers off, the fact is that successful, dedicated teachers in the U.S. work long hours for little pay and, in many cases, insufficient support from their leadership.”

About That ReOrg at DPI And What The Hell Is a Deputy Superintendent of Innovation?

As reported yesterday by many outlets, Mark Johnson announced a reorganization at the Department of Public Instruction, one of the many results of a recent court case that took over a year to settle and an audit that cost over a million dollars which said that DPI was underfunded.

Alex Granados of EdNC.org published the actual email sent out by Johnson to staff at DPI.

Dear Colleagues:
As most of you know, since becoming state superintendent, I have advocated a strategy of bold innovation and true urgency at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to support our state’s educators and students.
Today, we are taking major steps toward those goals by changing the way DPI is organized. To provide better support to the field, we need more efficiency and fewer silos in our organizational structure. (You can see the new structure here.)
To that end, I am creating a new deputy superintendent structure to drive innovation, collaboration, and operational efficiency. All deputy superintendents will now have a more effective number of directors reporting to them, which allows us to flatten the org chart and break down silos in the department. More division directors will be closer to leadership in this flatter structure.
Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin, who has been invaluable to me and to the department, will remain in her position as Deputy Superintendent for District Support. Dr. Eric Hall will become the Deputy Superintendent of Innovation. The new Deputy Superintendent of Operations position will relieve the other deputies from dealing with the department’s procurement, contracts, IT, HR, and other operational matters. This will allow Maria and Eric to focus on better supporting educators, students, and parents while the department can now make long-overdue improvements to our internal processes.
Eric’s group will house divisions including Charter Schools, the ISD, Career and Technical Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Accountability, and Federal Programs – all areas that will focus on generating, implementing, evaluating, and scaling successful strategies across the state to improve student outcomes.
Maria’s district support group will include the new Regional District Support, the new Educator Recruitment and Support, and other divisions that assist school districts and educators. The vision for this group will be to begin the shift to a data-driven support model through regional support teams. Teams will utilize a central data repository to improve local decision-making in partnership with schools and districts.
Maria will play the key role in driving collaboration as the Regional District Support team will need to work across the entire department. In fact, you may notice that there doesn’t seem to be a perfect break between the Innovation and District Support groups; that is by design. Overall, the changes are intended to foster more cooperation and collaboration among directors for the ultimate benefit of our educators and students.
Today, Maria, Eric, and I met with division directors to begin the work to develop plans for the transition to the new structure. I will begin to meet weekly with my DPI leadership team and regularly with division directors to drive our vision for transforming K-12 education in North Carolina. Also, all DPI staff will have an opportunity soon to discuss this new structure with us.
Thank you for your patience as we move to implement these changes. I know there has been a significant amount of change at DPI over the past 18 months. I appreciate all the work staff and local districts have done while these shifts, sometimes painful and sometimes merely distracting, have played out around us. I sincerely hope that we are at a point where we can begin to focus on urgently driving the innovation our system needs to truly fulfill the educational aspirations of educators, parents, and students.
In the coming weeks, we will be communicating more with you and the field about how these changes will be implemented and what changes districts and charter schools can expect.
Thank you for all you do for North Carolina’s public schools. North Carolina is fortunate to have you.
Mark
Important contact information:
  • Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin will be the Deputy Superintendent for District Support.
    • When local district officials or superintendents have questions or concerns for DPI, Maria is your best point of contact as she will reach across the department to drive collaboration and customer service for schools.
  • Dr. Eric Hall will be the Deputy Superintendent of Innovation.
  • Dr. Pamela Shue will remain the lead for early childhood education as the Deputy Superintendent for Early Education.
  • The Deputy Superintendent for Operations has not been announced yet.
  • Alexis Schauss will fill a new position as the Chief School Business Officer for NC public schools.
  • Stacy Wilson-Norman will be the division director for Curriculum and Instruction. Thank you to Christie Lynch-Ebert for serving as the interim director.
  • There are no other changes in division directors.
  • Regularly scheduled webinars will continue for now as Eric, Maria, Alexis, Stacy, and other division directors formulate best practices going forward (https://www.ednc.org/2018/07/24/superintendent-mark-johnson-announces-new-organizational-changes-at-dpi/).

Forget that Stacy Wilson-Norman actually spells her name “Stacey” and that “true urgency” took over 18 months to happen, there are some things worth noting about the new organizational chart.

Below is what it was prior to the new reorganization.

chart1

This is what it looks like now.

orgchart

The first thing to notice is that on the older chart some positions were titled with ALL CAPS and had a thicker border surrounding them. That meant that these people were Dual-Report Positions. In short, they answered to both the state board and to Johnson. However, that went away on July 1 with this:

With the 8 June 2018 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of Session Law 2016-126, I am now exercising my authority under that Act to manage administrative and supervisory personnel of the Department. Accordingly, I am changing your position appointment from “dual report” to reporting [only to the Superintendent directly] or [to the Superintendent through the Deputy State Superintendent]. The change in your appointment is effective immediately,” Johnson wrote (https://www.ednc.org/2018/07/17/state-board-of-education-loses-power-over-dpi-leadership/).

What that means is that those people who held those positions not only answer to Johnson now alone, but he has total control over what they do. A man with less than two calendar years of teacher training and classroom experience combined along with an unfinished term on a local school board now “calls” the shots for all of those veterans in a DPI whose budget is being slashed by the very people who prop up Johnson.

Also in the older chart, Johnson reports to the state board. In the new one, the state board of education does not even really have any ties to DPI except through an internal auditor. It’s like they do not exist, which is just what the powers that run the NCGA wanted.

Another change is that there are now FOUR Deputy State Superintendents: Operations, District Support, Early Education, and Innovation.

Innovation? One can see the concreteness of operations, support, and focus on early education, but “Innovation” sounds rather nebulous.

Or maybe not if you have followed Johnson’s track record these past eighteen months in office.

If you look under the Dept. Supt. of Innovation’s duties you will see the following:

  • Innovative School District
  • Charter Schools
  • Federal Programs
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Accountability
  • Curriculum and Instruction

That job is being filled by Dr. Eric Hall who until recently was only the superintendent of the Innovative School District. So now the super of an ISD that has only one school in its district which is many miles away from DPI and has yet to be opened as an ISD school much less proven its effectiveness but also has almost unlimited funds to ensure success – now breathe – will take over five other branches of DPI functionality?

If giving that many hats to one person who has yet to show results in the state as far as his previous post begs is innovative, then it is appropriately named.

If someone is going to be able to spin SB514, diversity problems, and a lack of accountability for the charter school industry here in NC with a positive light, then yes, that would be innovation. And it could happen because Dr. Hall oversees accountability.

Yet will he have the objectivity to be able to show how accountable or unaccountable charters and the ISD prove to be?

And believe it or not, innovation within curriculum and instruction is more teacher driven, but Johnson seems to not like teachers in any of his posts. Their experience and insight would prove him wrong.

Of course, any new state superintendent will want to put his mark on DPI, but this organizational change is just another way of placing people loyal to Johnson and ultimately loyal to Berger and Moore in positions to carry out other people’s wishes. Right now they are bent on privatizing as much of the public education system as they can. They need “YES” people in DPI. And no one is a bigger “YES” person than Johnson.

Maybe they forgot one crucial part to the new organization flowchart that would lend more clarity.

orgchart2

That’s more like it.

The Fragilepidermalitis of Phil Berger – A 50K Diagnosis of One Tweet

The North Carolina General Assembly convened a special session within 24 hours to be able to provide a certain spin to how constitutional amendments are worded on a ballot that will allow a group to seize more power of the state government.

The reason for such a swift call to a special session that costs tax payers $50K a day to have?

 

berger tweet

The tweet of one man.

A very smart, insightful, and dedicated public servant who seeks to display the truth.

And Phil Berger rushes into a special session to pass a bill to take over how the constitutional amendments are to be worded.

It’s cowardly.

That’s funny when considering that the exact opposite of one tweet will get Phil Berger to literally end an open session debate and go straight to committee.

Remember this?

IMG_6484

It got Berger to pass the budget through a “nuclear option.”

Also, cowardly.

Dear Berger and Moore, If You Are Going to Call Another Special Session, Then Maybe…

…they should consider this one tweet from Kris Nordstrom.

Kristweet

Special sessions under the Berger / Moore regime have been nothing more than power grabs – HB2, HB17, etc.

But considering that there is fear on the part of Berger and Moore, maybe their special session concerning the six amendments and their wording could also be used to craft some more public school friendly “laws.”

Instead of the amendment to require photo ID for voting, maybe revise and edit it to say that the state will not in any way or form try and suppress anyone’s right to vote in the same way it is any student’s right to obtain a quality public education no matter their race, creed, income, health, and socioeconomic background.

Instead of the amendment to  “establish a Bipartisan Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and to clarify board appointments”  which is nothing more than a power grab to take over the duties of the governor, maybe revise and edit it to say that the state will not in any way or form try and reduce the power of professionals who were elected or hired to perform said duties. It’s kind of like saying that the NCGA will not try to limit what teachers are allowed to do to advocate for public schools.

Instead of the “merit selection” for filling judicial vacancies as a way of trying to take over the judicial side of the the checks & balances in government, maybe revise and edit it to say that the state will not in any way or form try to redefine the power of certain individuals to take part in governing and speaking out.  Besides, the idea of “merit selection” is rather vague in that whoever gets to define the merits gets to measure them as well and this NCGA really has not shown much merit. It’s kind of akin to non-educators trying to measure what happens in classrooms and using “merit” pay initiatives, vague evaluation processes like Standard 6 and ASW’s, and looking at test scores instead of growth.

Instead of the %7 cap on state income taxes, maybe revise and edit it to say that the state will fully fund public schools.

And there is that school bond thing mentioned by Nordstrom.

Ironically, what Berger and Moore are really showing is that how people use language is rather important. Makes this English teacher feel a little more valued. But it also reminds me that while voting for these “spun” amendments, on that same ballot we can send these people home and not back to Raleigh.

 

According To This Gentleman, Teachers Are Going to Strike In October And They Don’t Know It Yet! Part 2 – A Response to the Response

Mr. Goetze,

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,

majordavepost.png

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.

majordavelives

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:

red4ednc-game-plan

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.

He says,

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

[2009]. 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.

deville1deville2

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.

 

 

 

 

According To This Gentleman, Teachers Are Going to Strike In October And They Don’t Know It Yet! Concerning Conspiracy Theories and Slippery Slopes.

Apparently, there is to be a HUGE teacher strike in October. News of the covert actions to bring such an event together started here:

strike1

Yes. It is real.

And then because everything that gets published on the internet is true, it grew into this from a gentleman who was on the Facebook thread of the above posting. He then constructed a letter to the editor that may be the basis of teaching both hyperbole and slippery slope this next fall in a logical fallacy lesson.

In fact, he wanted it to be shared. So, I am.

Strike2Strike3

The “flyer” he is referring to is this.

red4ednc-game-plan

Maybe the month of October is written in invisible font that only Mr. Goetze and his friends can see. Couple that with the insinuated guess that every time the word “collective” appears it makes him automatically think of “leftist unionizers” and you get this kind of missive.

But its worth hearing out someone who has never taught in public schools and who is not part of Red4EdNC but is certainly sure of what he is talking about.

Even though he doesn’t.

His words are in bold.

“It is time to school our teachers. Apparently they aren’t smart enough to understand the law.” Admittedly, I am not a lawyer. Something tells me that Mr. Goetze is not one either. But there is Article IX in the North Carolina State Constitution that expressly instructs the NC General Assembly to fully fund our public schools. The NCGA is not, and they are full of lawyers. In fact, many of the actions they have performed have been declared unconstitutional and unlawful. Is that because they do not understand the law?

And the last time I checked, teachers have First Amendment rights as well. In fact, part of our job is to advocate for students and schools.

“Are they seduced that easily by liberal organizers who find them useful pawns in advancing their own political agenda?” If having our public schools fully funded is a liberal agenda, then I am guilty. If advocating for students, teachers, and public schools makes me a gullible pawn, then so be it.

“Case in point. Every teacher who left the classroom recently to march in Raleigh broke the law. Administrators who knowingly facilitated their absence to do so became co-conspirators, along with every other person who helped to organize it. NC General Statute § 95-98 forbids collective bargaining by all public employees, including teachers. Strikes, walkouts and even work slowdowns are expressly prohibited by it.” I must have missed my court date or unknowingly broke out of my handcuffs or even a jail cell.

Actually, the march in May was not breaking the law. I, like so many other teachers, put in for a personal day which I am allowed to do. I happened to do it for May 16th. A number of other teachers ( thousands actually) used their rightful request for a personal day as well and we all met in Raleigh for peaceful demonstration. It was all lawful. Apparently, we are smart enough to understand the law.

In fact, I don’t recall a single arrest that day.

“Actually, our Legislators would be breaking the law by negotiating anything with such a group or their representatives, according to that statute.” But we have the right to peacefully demonstrate and call upon our representatives, do we not?

And, if Mr. Goetze has not noticed, our legislators really have a hard time just listening to us. That is unless it is election day.

“In spite of the law, both the NCAE and a cover group known as “Red4EdNC” are planning a week-long teacher strike in October just prior to the Fall elections for the expressed purpose of using those teachers to canvass neighborhoods to register voters.” I am a member of NCAE. I have not received that memo and I am wondering how Mr. Goetze became knowledgeable of that before I did. Furthermore, I am part of the Red4EdNC movement. They must have forgotten to send me a memo as well. And Red4Ed is a cover group? That one is a new one on me as well.

I also did not know we were going to spend a week canvassing voters during school days in October. But if we do, maybe we should canvass Mr. Goetze’s neighborhood. However, according to his Facebook account, he doesn’t even live in the state.

“Their websites make it clear that they intend to apply pressure after the election on the new Legislature to meet their demands on various issues despite that being an illegal act.” Which websites? How is that clear? If the legislature is new, then wouldn’t that mean that those people who have hurt public education would have been voted out? In fact, this old legislature gerrymandered the districts to try and make sure that there wasn’t a new legislature.

“When you connect the dots, it is readily apparent that two efforts share a common goal – gaining a Democrat majority in one or both houses of the Legislature this Fall and then lobbying them in the new session next year.” Which dots? The moving invisible ones that only Mr. Goetze sees?

I am still trying to figure out which week in October we are supposed to be striking. It is not apparent on those “websites.”

“Perhaps teachers aren’t smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors. They can hand the Democrats a victory this Fall only to find out – ooops, we can’t really engage in collective bargaining with the General Assembly after all, but thanks for giving us back control over the Legislature.” There’s that slippery slope!

“It’s not about teachers and it’s certainly not about improving the education of our children.” Actually it is.

“This is just liberal politics at its worst and far too few of our teachers are smart enough to see it for what it is.” Oddly enough, advocating for strong public schools used to be the mantra of the Republican Party just a couple of decades ago. In fact, North Carolina once was considered the most progressive and best school system in the Southeast. It was a non-partisan issue.

It still is non-partisan, or at least should. Many of the teachers who marched in May are registered Republicans.

While Mr. Goetze may consider it to be a partisan issue, what public education is really is a public good protected by the state constitution.

But according to him it is now liberal politics at its worst conducted by people who aren’t even smart enough to know the difference.

This coming from a man who just took a Facebook post and inserted words to fit his narrative to create a hyperbolic conspiracy theory that feeds upon itself to the point that he writes an op-ed for everyone to share.

Well, I will share it.

And respond to it.

 

 

 

 

Civics Class in Action – More Young People in NC Registered to Vote

Recently Targetsmart, a data collection firm, released a report on voter registration entitled “ANALYSIS: AFTER PARKLAND SHOOTING, YOUTH VOTER REGISTRATION SURGES.”

In every one of the 39 states targeted except four, voter registration in the age group of 18-29 has risen.

In NC, it has risen by %5.5.

votermap

voterreg-1024x443

Joe Killian of NC Policy Watch highlighted this report in a post adding a quote from Targetsmart’s CEO.

A new generation of political leaders emerged in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy,” Bonier said in the release Thursday. “We witnessed their ability to organize in North Carolina and across the country as massive crowds took to the streets for the March for Our Lives, and now we’re seeing a quantifiable impact from that organizing. It remains to be seen how many of these younger registrants will cast a ballot in November, but they are poised to have a louder voice than ever in these critical midterm elections” (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/07/19/analysis-youth-voter-registration-up-since-parkland-school-shooting/).

Might just make November’s elections that much more important.

 

 

 

“At” The Table or “On” the Table – The Need for Teacher Input in Educational “Reform”

You can be either “at” the table or “on” the table.

For teachers in North Carolina, there are many other prepositions that could identify the relationship between the legislation process and teacher input such as “under” the table, “without” a place at the table, or “behind” the table.

As a veteran public school teacher, when I see entities like BEST NC or other “business-minded” reformers defending or lauding a piece of legislation, I take it with a grain of salt.

Or an entire salt block.

Aside from the glowing generalities that sprinkle the rhetoric of many a reformer, I could not help but think that so many other “innovations” that have been created and enacted in North Carolina, they lack a crucial and vital component: teacher input.

Think of  those “new and pioneering solutions” that include the new principal pay plan, the rise of charter schools, the expansion of vouchers, the gutting and rebirth of a distant relative in the Teaching Fellows Program, and much more.

They all have one thing in common: no teacher input.

When the NC General Assembly went into GOP hands and McCrory came to the governor’s mansion, the process of “reforming” education began in earnest. There was the removal of due-process rights, the removal of graduate degree pay, Standard 6, push for merit pay, bonus pay, removal of longevity pay, removal of class size caps and then the placing of class size caps without funds to hire extra teachers or build extra classrooms, etc.

The list goes on.

Were there any teachers involved in these reforms? Any teacher advocacy groups consulted? Any way a teacher could chime in?

Those are not rhetorical questions. And considering that the current General Assembly seems bent upon diluting the voice of groups like NCAE, it should not be a stretch to realize that teachers are not consulted when it comes to schools.

The Report on Education Legislation from the 2017 Session of the General Assembly released by DPI and the State Board has a list of all of the bills that were passed that in one way or another affect public education.

From pages 4 and 5.

Bills 2Bills 1

Excluding the “local bills,” how many of those bills and “reforms” had teacher input? How many of those initiatives had any consideration from teachers and asked for contributions from public school educators?

Look at SB599. Sen. Chad Barefoot’s idea of streamlining the teacher recruitment process literally allows for teachers to enter the profession with very little preparation. Was there teacher input?

Again, not a rhetorical question. And do not let it be lost in the world of sadistic irony that Barefoot was the chief champion of the newest version of the Teacher Fellows Program.

When education reformers try and push their agendas can they actually really claim that they have extended relationships with actual teachers and teacher groups?

I do not think so. And that resembles the modus operandi of the NC General Assembly who in 2016 crafted in a special session the very “laws” (like HB17) that were battled over in courts that enabled a man with hardly any educational experience to run without checks and balances the entire public school system.

And the very criteria that measure teacher effectiveness and school performance are established and constantly changed by that same body of lawmakers without teacher input will always translate into a narrative that reform is always needed.

At one time we as a state led the nation in educational innovation.

We sure did. We were considered one of the most progressive public education state systems in the country.

But that was before teachers were not allowed to be “at” the table any longer.

However, there is one way that the table ( and the menu) can be reclaimed: voting on issues like public education in November.

Remember Longevity Pay? NC Teachers Are the Only State Employees Who Do Not Receive It. There’s a Devious Reason.

In the long session of 2014, the NC General Assembly raised salaries for teachers in certain experience brackets that allowed them to say that an “average” salary for teachers was increased by over 7%. They called it a “historic raise.”

However, if you divided the amount of money used in these “historic” raises by the number of teachers who “received” them, it would probably amount to about $270 per teacher.

That historic raise was funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay.

Similar to an annual bonus, this is something that all state employees in North Carolina — except, now, for teachers — gain as a reward for continued service. The budget rolled that money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise.

longevity

That’s like me stealing money out of your wallet and then presenting it to you as a gift. And remember that teachers are the only state employees who do not receive longevity pay.

Just teachers.

It’s almost like the North Carolina General Assembly doesn’t even want to have teachers be considered employees of the state.

This summer will be the fourth summer that veteran teachers will not receive longevity pay. For the many veteran  teachers who have never really seen a raise in the past 6-7 years in actual dollars, the loss of longevity pay actually created a loss of net income on a yearly basis.

Consider the following table compiled by John deVille, NC public school activist and veteran teacher who has chronicled the various changes in educational policy for years. He tracked the recent teacher pay “increase” and used DATA-DRIVEN logic to show something rather interesting.

teacherpay2019

What deVille did was to compare salaries as proposed from the recent budget to the 2008-2009 budget that was in place right before the Great Recession hit, the same financial catastrophe that most every GOP stalwart seems to forget happened ten years ago. Adjusting the 2008-2009 salary schedule with an inflation index from the Bureau of Labor, the third column shows what those 2008-2009 salaries would be like now. Most steps see a shortfall. Add to that the loss of longevity pay that was used to help finance these “historic raises” and the amount of money lost by teachers over these past ten years becomes rather eye-opening.

Longevity pay does mean that much to veteran teachers. It also means a lot to the NCGA because they used its elimination to help wage a systematic war against veteran teachers.

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 (financed in part by removal of longevity), 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.

The removal of longevity might make those decisions easier to make on a personal level, but more difficult for the state to recover from.

Veteran teachers fight for schools, for students, for fairness in funding, and for the profession. When they act as a cohesive group, they represent an entity that scares the current leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly like nothing else.

One of the best ways to act as a cohesive group is to vote in November.