When teachers come together and act as a cohesive group to affect positive change, it does scare the hell out of some who benefit from privatization efforts.
Multiple times the NC General Assembly has tried to weaken any group like NCAE through stopping automatic dues payments and other things such as what the Civitas Institute tried to do here – luring teachers in NCAE to “buy” their membership back.
That website was established by the Civitas Institute, which was founded by Art Pope. It showed NCAE members how to withdraw their membership in NCAE and make $450 because that is what they would not be spending in dues.
Remember May 16th when 20,000 teachers plus thousands of supporters went to Raleigh to march and rally for schools? They called it a “strike.” Some may even have called it a “special session” by the people. Remember that the NCGA went nuclear with their budget right after that and squashed any chances for debate and amendment?
This past week Red4EdNC held some press conferences across the state to formally give elected officials a list of grievances that outline what has happened to public education in the few years under current NCGA control.
And again, some showed an absolute fear of teachers who come together to affect positive change.
Today the Carolina Journal posted a piece called “Red4EdNC wants to fix N.C. public education system” which extensively quoted Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation and his views of what Red4EdNC has done and stands for. Please remember that the Civitas Institute, John Locke Foundation, and the Carolina Journal are all really under one metaphorical roof.
That piece is worth the read: https://www.carolinajournal.com/news-article/red4ednc-wants-to-fix-n-c-public-education-system/.
But the arguments that Stoops offers to counter what Red4EdNC and other advocates have been working for is weak and easily debunked. In this instance, he relies on two half-baked points: the Teacher Working Conditions Survey and the need for heavy tax increases.
Just follow if you will.
The Carolina Journal piece offers,
“It directly contradicts the 2018 teacher working condition survey,” Stoops said.
The 2018 Teacher Working Condition Survey shows 87 percent of teachers think their school, overall, is a good place to work and to learn. Eighty-one percent of teachers said their school environment clean and well-maintained, and 76 percent believe they have sufficient teaching supplies.
“So there’s a couple of possibilities here,” Stoops said. “Either the working condition survey is baloney and [Red4EdNC] is actually representing the attitude of what most teachers feel, or the survey is correct and these teachers happen to be a vocal minority.”
Stoops doesn’t take the survey; he’s not a teacher. But he also has not read the questions on the survey very carefully. That survey does nothing to address how teachers feel about their treatment from the state and the NCGA.
It is hard to take a survey seriously from DPI when the questions never get beyond a teacher’s actual school. There is never any way to convey in this survey from the state what teachers think about the state’s role in education or how standardized testing is affecting working conditions.
It should ask teachers views not only of their school, but MORE of their perceptions of the county / LEA leadership and state leadership.
Below are the main questions (there are subsets) asked on the survey that actual teachers answer.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about the use of time in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about your school facilities and resources.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about community support and involvement in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about managing student conduct in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about teacher leadership in your school.
- Please indicate the role teachers have in each of the following areas in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about leadership in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about professional development in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about instructional practices and support in your school.
If Stoops was really keen on getting to know teachers concerning their views about working in NC public schools, then the questions should also go beyond the “School” and explore the “state.”
Imagine if teachers got to answer questions such as:
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about ho the state helps schools with facilities and resources.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about the state’s support and involvement in your school.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about state leadership at the Department of Public Instruction.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about state leadership.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about professional development sponsored by the state.
- Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about support for schools from the state.
When NC public schools receive a majority of their funds, mandates, stipulations, guidelines, and marching orders from the state, then should not the NC Teacher Working Condition Survey include teacher perceptions on the role of the state and its influence?
The other argument that Stoops goes to when he wants to dismiss teachers is that they want to do nothing but raise taxes.
“The biggest problem I find with their entire platform is that they’re calling on spending increases without specifying how they’re going to pay for it,” Stoops said. “They refuse to say taxes would have to be increased to pay for the teacher pay increases and the per-student expenditure increases that they’re asking for.”
Actually, Dr. Stoops and I have had this discussion – in the “Comments” section of a post I wrote back in July – “When The John Locke Foundation Validates A Collective Voice For Teachers and Red4EdNC.” He expressly asks what tax increases needed to be put in place to fund our schools to the level we wanted. I think I give him a good response – one that he did not ever reply to.
That exchange is below.
Terry Stoops: Nice try, Stu. This entire essay is an attempt to ignore the elephant in the room. Red4EdNC refuses to put a price tag on the group’s demands and outline a plan for paying for them. If the group is not afraid to call for a massive tax increase, then it wouldn’t have used the ridiculous line, “Cessation of tax practices which favor individuals over the collective good.” How many billions will North Carolinians have to pay for the “collective good?” It sounds expensive.
Caffeinated Rage: Oh, Terry.
Terry Stoops: Great response! Just enter the dollar amount here: ______________________ and the corresponding tax increases here: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
If you don’t mind, please define “collective good” and let me know who decides what that is. You’ll need more than just a few lines for that one.
Caffeinated Rage: Well Dr. Stoops, I will give you another great response and use your previous response as a template. But first, I would like to send your previous responses to the other 20,000 teachers who came to Raleigh on May 16th. They seem to agree that public schools need more funding.
You said: “Great response! Just enter the dollar amount here _________________:”
Well, how about the amount of money that would bring NC’s average teacher salary to the national average. Add to that the amount of money to bring per-pupil expenditure to pre-recession levels adjust for inflation. Add to that funding for the over 7,400 teacher assistants we as a state have lost in the past ten years. Add to that the money needed to restore graduate degree pay. Add money for textbooks and professional development. How about also adding enough to fully fund those class size mandates.
There’s a start. I have more in mind. I talk a lot about them on my blog.
Next you professorially stated, “ and the corresponding tax increases here: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.”
Well that’s funny you mention that when the NCGA just passed a budget that allows for property taxes to be used to fund local schools and possibly state mandates. Seems that taxes are going up there.
Let’s not raise taxes right now for argument’s sake, but maybe not extend more corporate tax cuts for businesses and people who make significantly more than the average North Carolinian. We haven’t really seen the trickle-down effect from that here in our schools. Next, maybe not invest almost a billion dollars’ worth into a voucher scheme over ten-year period when it has not shown any real success and put that back into the public schools (yes, I know you said it “hits the mark” in your latest missive in the op-ed circuit but I can’t help it if you misread the conclusions of the NC State study that was financed by your boss’s foundation). How about taking some of the money earmarked for Special Needs Education Savings Accounts (which might be one of the most unregulated versions in the country) and allowing parents to invest it back into services for their children in public schools? Maybe we could also not extend so much money into new unregulated charter schools.
By the way, aren’t you trying to open one up in Wake County? And if you are, will you be going to the county commissioners and asking for funds from property taxes to help fund your school in a county that has more nationally certified teachers than any other county IN THE NATION? Apparently, Wake County Public School System had a big meeting last night in which cuts had to be made because of a shortfall that most board members said was because of lack of funding from the NCGA you support which is also sitting on a surplus it likes to brag about. Did you go there and explain your thoughts to set them straight?
You concluded with, “If you don’t mind, please define ‘collective good’ and let me know who decides what that is. You’ll need more than just a few lines for that one.”
I thought about this part as I was driving back on state and county maintained roads, transporting my younger child who happens to have special needs from speech therapy to a summer enrichment program established by the local school system to help him maintain academic growth. I also returned a book to the public library that I was using to help formulate a reading list for next school year and passed by a waste disposal truck, a recycling center, and the city police department. Then I thought about how the only schools that would even consider taking my child as a student were the public schools, but that is another post.
So while the word “collective” may spark some vision of the Borg trying to assimilate our human race, I will just refer to the very state constitution that the NCGA you support is trying to alter in six different ways this November.
It’s Article IX, Sections 1 & 2:
“Section 1. Education encouraged.
Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
Sec. 2. Uniform system of schools.
(1) General and uniform system: term. The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”
Of course, all of this is up for debate, but that NCGA you support doesn’t seem to like debate and open discourse. Just look at how they passed the recent budget.
Thanks for reading my blog, one that is maintained by an actual public school teacher on a public school teacher’s salary and not sponsored by a political think tank.
And you are right. I did need a few more lines for that one.
Ironically, Dr. Stoops has one year of teaching experience – in another state. Those people in Red4EdNC have a little more experience teaching in public schools in this state and have all seen the changes under the very NCGA that Stoops praises.
I think I will believe the teachers who advocate on their own time and penny instead of the paid employee of a political think tank.