The Average NC Teacher Salary is $53,975. Here’s Why That is Misleading.

Rep. Jeffrey Elmore talked in an op-ed this past July about how great teacher pay has become in North Carolina over the last few years.

Besides never referring to the fact that furloughs and freezes were due to the Great Recession, Elmore clearly argues a fallacious talking point that seems to constantly need debunking.

He said,

When voters gave Republicans the majority in the General Assembly in 2011, North Carolina was ranked 47th in the nation in teacher pay — and due to decades of irresponsible spending and budgeting, school systems in the state were considering reduction in force. Hiring freezes and furloughs became a reality for our teachers. North Carolina is now 29th in the nation and second in the southeast in teacher pay.

So, here is a better look at what Rep. Elmore is almost talking about.

From the March 7, 2019 News & Observer about the average teacher pay in North Carolina:

The average salary for a North Carolina public school teacher has risen 5 percent to nearly $54,000 this year.

New figures released Wednesday by the state Department of Public Instruction estimate the average salary for teachers to be $53,975 — $2,741 more than the previous school year. The new number is 20 percent more than the $44,990 average salary five years ago.

According to DPI, North Carolina now ranks fourth in the Southeast in average teacher compensation, with Georgia being the highest at $56,392.

“These numbers are the result of record-breaking investments from Republicans in educators and students,” Pat Ryan, a spokesman for Senate leader Phil Berger, said in a statement Wednesday. “Over the last five years, Republicans have provided teachers with five consecutive pay raises, and in three of those years the raises were at or near the top in the entire country.

“Once the facts are laid bare, it’s easy to see that attacks against Republicans over education spending are simply Democrats and their special interest allies playing politics.”

Well, then lets lay bare the facts of how that figure has come about.

The operative word here is “average.” What GOP stalwarts purposefully fail to tell you is that most of the raises have occurred at the very low rungs of the salary schedule. Of course, you can raise the salary of first year teachers by a few thousand dollars and it would give them an average raise of maybe 10-15%. You would only have to give veteran teachers a very small raise funded by longevity pay (which we no longer get) and the OVERALL average raise still looks good, and not much money has to be invested.

“Average” does not mean “actual.” But it sounds great to those who don’t understand the math.

This report reflects a whopping double standard of the NC General Assembly and a total contradiction to what is really happening to average teacher pay. Just follow my logic and see if it makes sense.

The last eight years have seen tremendous changes to teacher pay. For new teachers entering in the profession here in NC there is no longer any graduate degree pay bump, no more longevity pay (for anyone), and a changed salary schedule that only makes it possible for a teacher to top out on the salary schedule with at 52K per year.

salary

So how can that be the average pay in NC be over 53K when no one can really make much over 52K as a new teacher in his/her entire career unless they all become nationally certified (which takes a monetary investment by the teacher to start)?

Easy. North Carolina is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgusted the former governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout this new wonderful “average.”

Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements.

Plus, those LEA’s will have to do something in the next few years to raise even more money to meet the requirements of the delayed class size mandate.

Any veteran teacher who is making above 50K based on seniority, graduate pay, and national boards are gladly counted in this figure. It simply drives up the CURRENT average pay. But when these veteran teachers who have seniority, graduate pay, and possibly national certification retire (and many are doing that early at 25 years), then the very people who seem to be a “burden” on the educational budget leave the system.

In actuality, that would drive the average salary down as time goes on. If the top salary that any teacher could make is barely over 50K (some will have higher as National Board Certified Teachers, but not a high percentage), then how can you really tout that average salaries will be higher?

You can if you are only talking about the right here and right now.

The “average bear” can turn into a bigger creature if allowed to be mutated by election year propaganda. That creature is actually a monster called the “Ignoramasaurus Rex” known for its loud roar but really short arms that keep it from having far reaching consequences.

Remember the word “average” is a very easy word to manipulate. Politicians use it well. In this case, the very teachers who are driving the “average” salary up are the very people that the state wants to not have in a few years. There will then be a new average. It can’t possibly be over 53K then if current trends keep going.

Would Rep. Elmore care to debunk this?

Another “Cold” Response From A Lawmaker Concerning The Needs of Schools – Yes, Rep. Craig Horn, This Concerns You

hornbus.PNG

WSOCTV.com (Channel 9) out of Charlotte recently updated an investigative report on broken air-conditioners on many CMS buses and published a response to the situation from a state lawmaker.

A Channel 9 investigation into conditions on school buses is expanding after we first discovered Monday that 120 Charlotte-Mecklenburg School buses don’t have working air conditioning.

Several parents and bus drivers have contacted us with major concerns about the sweltering heat.

Anchor Allison Latos has been reaching out to every district across our viewing area and discovered that CMS is not alone.

Several other districts currently have buses without working A/C.

Air conditioning is now considered standard equipment in North Carolina and South Carolina, but

Lincoln County Associate Superintendent Aaron Allen said that money is a concern.

“We are sometimes forced to choose what can and cannot be repaired when facing issues with tires, transmissions, brakes, fuel, etc.,” Allen said.

Our investigations have gotten the attention of a local lawmaker.

“That’s a simple place to hide,” state Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, said. “’Oh, they don’t give us enough money, not my fault.’ It seems to me that we’ve got an accountability issue here.”

Horn is the chairman of the House Education Appropriations Committee.

He said he’s concerned about conditions on board school buses but he hopes districts will address maintenance without more government oversight.

 

“If not, someone is going to, I am sure, introduce a bill that will require some type of penalty for those school districts that don’t meet minimum maintenance standards on their buses,” Horn said.

Officials with South Carolina school districts said that their fleets are purchased, assigned and maintained by the state.

In North Carolina, individual school districts are responsible for their own buses.

The chairman of the House Education Appropriation Committee should know that his very cronies are holding the budget hostage, forcing local school systems to rely only on recurring funding at last year’s levels.

The “Education Legislator” should know that local LEA’s already have to fund several state mandates with local monies knowing full well that there may not be monies there to fulfill them all. Wasn’t it Horn who was calling for some sort of solution to the class size mandate bill because he knew that local LEA’s were having a hard time funding already state mandated measures?

Well done Rep. Craig Horn.

Well done.

Automatically assuming that it is the fault of underfunded local school districts and not the fault of a North Carolina General Assembly that has never reached per pupil expenditures adjusted for inflation that we spent before the Great Recession does not make Craig Horn the “Education Legislator.”

It makes him complicit.

Maybe some of the cold responses Horn and others in the NCGA give to educational matters could be bottled up and help keep the heat in school buses at bay.

The SPAM Of The State Superintendent

When receiving blanket emails and glossy flyers becomes the normal mode of communication from the state superintendent to teachers and parents, it becomes increasingly and painfully more apparent that what he chooses to “discuss” is an obvious attempt to not have to “confront” the real issues of public education in North Carolina.

Remember that Mark Johnson refused to “rally” on two different times with more than 20,000 North Carolina teachers and public school advocates for our public schools.

Remember that he also held an invitation only “dinner” to deliver “major announcements” for public education in North Carolina. One of those was the #NC2030 initiative. It’s still 2019.

Another one was the TeachNC initiative. As of today the official Twitter account for TeachNC has fewer than 150 followers.

teachnctwitter

But we have those emails. Some come at holidays. Some come in groups. Many are prompted by hurricanes.

Hardly any address issues that teachers need clarification for especially from the state’s top “public” education official.

Here are the ones sent to teachers since the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

  • 8/25/18 – “Support, flexibility, and innovation from DPI”
    8/30/18 – “You said we’re testing too much – here’s what I’m doing”
    9/10/18 – “School safety” (about Hurricane Florence)
    10/3/18 – “How you can help schools recover from Florence”
    10/17/18 – “Hurricane Update”
    11/15/18 – “Parents’ Perspective Survey: Testing”
    11/20/18 – “Thank you”
    12/21/18 – “A special visit from Santa”
    1/16/19 – “Reducing testing in our schools: Giving teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn”
    2/13/19 – “Your child’s future”
    2/19/19 – “Major Announcements”
    4/12/19 – “Happy Spring Break and Easter!”
    5/7/19 – “We must elevate our teachers”
    5/30/19 – “Too much testing in schools”
    6/13/19 – “End-of-year Update”
    7/4/19 – “Happy 4th of July!”
    8/19/19 – “The Truth About Read to Achieve”
    8/23/19 – “Back to School Update”
    9/2/19 – “An Important Message About Hurricane Dorian”
    9/10/19 – “Dorian and Florence – Easy Ways You Can Help”
    9/12/19 – “Resources for Classrooms”
    9/13/19 – “NC Kindness Campaign”
  • 5 were about reducing testing.
  • 5 dealt with hurricanes
  • 4 were for holidays
  • 2 were about supplies
  • 1 was about how we could use DonorsChose.org
  • 1 was about kindness
  • 1 defended an already ineffective program
  • 3 were about teaching as a profession with spun facts

None were about the budget crisis.

None were about how to deal with the poverty that is perfectly mapped by School Performance Grades

None were about the funding of schools.

None were about vouchers, ESA’s, charter schools needing to be more regulated.

None were about teacher raises.

None were about the removal of longevity pay and graduate degree pay.

None were about the reduced benefits for teachers.

None were about the cuts to the numbers of teacher assistants.

None were about the ISD’s lack of success.

And while all of them thanked teachers for “what you do for our students,” it’s hard not to read each and every one of them without thinking that Johnson was writing a self-congratulatory note to divert attention away from the fact that he was not confronting the very challenges that we as educators have.

Maybe he could email us about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debunking 13 Common Electioneering Claims Made by Current Politicians Concerning NC’s Public Schools

When an NC lawmaker makes a claim about how well they have treated public education, the whole story may not be told – only a glossy version. In this season of electioneering and rather important midterms, it is important to know that the biggest part of the iceberg is under the water level where most people do not look.

Consider the following claims:

  1. We are now spending more on public education than we ever have before. In fact, the new budget has much more.”

Well, that is true. We are spending more money on education as a whole. But why is our per pupil expenditure still lagging behind earlier years? Say in 2008, a school district had 1000 students in its school system and spent 10 million dollars in its budget to educate them. That’s a 10,000 per pupil expenditure. Now in 2018, that same district has 1500 students and the school system is spending 11.5 million to educate them. That district is spending more total dollars now than in 2008 on education, but the per-pupil expenditure has gone down –  significantly to over 2300 dollars per student or 23 percent.

But when the average spent per pupil does not increase with the rise in the cost of resources and upkeep and neglects to put into consideration that the population of North Carolina has exploded in the last couple of decades, then that political “victory” becomes empty.

  1. “We are spending over 56% of our budget on public education!”

We are supposed to. It’s in our constitution.

In the past before the GOP’s current majority in the NC General Assembly began, the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED. Those percentages of spending are not a badge of honor that this General Assembly gets to wear; it was earned many decades ago. The fact that the percentage is getting lower actually is not a positive sign. It is a reflection that the NCGA’s level of commitment to public education is wavering.

Here are a couple from Tim Moore’s office over the last couple of years.

  1. “Over the combined period of 2014, 2015 and 2016 budget years, North Carolina gave the largest percentage salary increase to teachers in the United States, according to the data currently available” – http://speakermoore.com/north-carolinas-teacher-income-rising-faster-than-any-state-since-2014/.

That is the most recycled, spun statement used by West Jones Street concerning public education in the last five years. And it barely has validity. Why? Because this fastest growing teacher income designation is only true when it pertains to “average.” It does not mean “actual.”

Those raises Moore refers to were funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Like an annual bonus, all state employees receive it—except, now, for teachers—as a reward for continued service. Yet the budget he mentions simply rolled that longevity money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise.

1

Furthermore, why are NC teacher’s still 16% behind the national average in teacher pay?

  1. North Carolina’s teacher salaries since 2014 are the fastest rising in the country, with average annual teacher pay crossing $50,000 for the first time in state history this year” (http://www.timmoorenc.com/education/).

So how can it be that the average pay in NC be over 50K when no one can really make much over 50K as a new teacher in his/her entire career unless they all become nationally certified (which takes a monetary investment by the teacher to start) according to the new salary schedule?

salary

Easy. North Carolina is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgusted the former governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout this new wonderful “average.”

Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements.

  1. Our Democratic predecessors had failed to plan ahead and ultimately furloughed many of the hardworking educators our students had” (http://www.timmoorenc.com/education/).

No one party is immune from criticism, but it is interesting to point out that Moore and other lawmakers really never point to the GREAT RECESSION. No one got raises in any government jobs. McCrory gave raises as state revenue started to gain momentum, but those raises came with a price.

And many teachers voted to furlough days back then – to save jobs for others.

  1. “Principals are receiving a pay increase.”

That new principal pay plan is not as well received as many may think. The model came from some political playbook used by ALEC-leaning bodies. The planning occurred behind doors without actual educators. The data that was analyzed involved monetary bottom lines. The math and the computational thinking come from entities that benefit from this pay plan like SAS. Explanations given have been broad and nebulous. There is no evidence. And lastly, a body of lawmakers that uses special sessions and secret meetings which shut out other points of view does not practice communication well.

  1. “Tenure is a bad thing for teachers to have.”

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.

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.

  1. “Gov. Cooper vetoed a budget that would give teachers a raise.”

Actually, Gov. Cooper vetoed the entire budget, probably because lawmakers in power refused to listen to debate and hear amendments and passed the budget through a “nuclear” option in the summer. This current budget was vetoed by the governor and he came back with a compromise that still had more in teacher raises than the NCGA had in both chambers. Furthermore, Cooper’s plan called for higher raises to be more evenly distributed across experience levels.

  1. “The recent budget is giving hundreds of millions to help reconstruct schools.”

Advocates for public schools wanted a $1.9 BILLION dollar school bond for the state to go on the ballot in November of 2018.

  1. “Opportunity Grants are working!”

It would be nice if lawmakers could refute or explain conclusions of the Duke University study released last year which was a rather damning report on the Opportunity Grants. Or maybe the recent NC State University study that concluded our voucher program suffers from lack of transparency.

  1. “Charter School growth has been a great thing for NC.”

Where is the empirical date to make this claim? Most reports have talked about more segregation and lack of oversight of finances.

  1. Public Schools are failing!”

Those who control the dialogue in North Carolina and in many other states only tell their side of the spin and neglect to talk of all of the variables that schools are and should be measured by.

3

All of the external forces that affect the health of traditional public schools generally are controlled and governed by our North Carolina General Assembly, rather by the majority currently in power.

When the very forces that can so drastically affect traditional public schools are coupled with reporting protocols controlled by the same lawmaking body, how the public ends up viewing the effectiveness of traditional public schools can equally be spun.

4

  1. Poverty is not as big a factor in school performance as many would lead you to believe.”

Then explain this:

graph

 

 

Those are simply thirteen. There are more.

The Book of Leviticus And The Use Of Opportunity Grants In Religious Schools

Today, NC Policy Watch highlighted a recent report by the Asheville Citizen Times that talked of a religious school in Buncombe County, Temple Baptist School, that receives over a third of the Opportunity Grant money funneled into Buncombe County.

In the western part of the state, the “Citizen Times” reports that a conservative religious school that receives a third of Buncombe County’s opportunity scholarship money teaches students that homosexuality is a sin.

Temple Baptist School in West Asheville is also dismissive of the theory of evolution, the paper reports. It opts to evangelize about Young Earth creationism, which contends Earth is no more than 10,000 years old.

Most students attend Temple Baptist in west Asheville with financial assistance of public vouchers.

The actual news article was posted on Sept. 16th and included the following “enlightening” information:

“What we do is based on the Bible as our foundation,” Brian Washburn, the school’s administrator, said. “So that’s going to influence our approach to teaching all of our subject areas,”

A religious K-12 school, Temple Baptist is at liberty to teach a strict interpretation of scripture. Yet while it is private, most of the school’s 148 students pay tuition with the assistance of public funding.

Over 90% of the voucher money used in NC is used for religious schools. And the use of a strict interpretation of the Bible to drive curriculum is not a new phenomenon in some of them.

A July, 2016 NC Policy Watch article by Chris Fitzsimon entitled “More taxpayer funding for voucher schools that openly discriminate against LGBT students and parents” offered another example of how taxpayer money was being used to fund schools that are allowed to teach any curriculum they choose. In fact, many have been able to discriminate against certain prospective students based on a variety of criteria, especially sexual orientation or identity.

In this particular article, Fitzsimon focused on Bible Baptist Christian School in Matthews. He described the situation:

The school collected more than $100,000 in public support for the 2015-2016 school year to pay for the education of 26 students who signed up for a voucher.

But not all taxpayers have access to the school.  Gay students and students with gay parents are banned from attending Bible Baptist Christian School even though their tax dollars support it.

That’s not an unwritten policy quietly enforced by the admissions office.  It is quite explicit that gay students and students with gay parents are not welcome.

Page 76 of the student handbook of the school includes a “Homosexual Conduct Policy” that makes it clear.

“The school reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a current student. This includes, but is not limited to, living in, condoning, or supporting any form of sexual immorality; practicing or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity;”

The handbook lists Bible verses as references for its policies. One of the verses cited to support the anti-LGBT provision is Leviticus 20:13, that reads:

“If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”

Bible Baptist is not the only fundamentalist religious school that receives tax payer money that is allowed to do this, but the direct use of a Bible verse to validate discrimination seems to be a violation of the separation of church and state. Ironically, churches already are tax exempt, but now those churches with schools can stay tax exempt and use tax payer money to further their doctrines.

Temple Baptist School admits to adhering to a strict interpretation of the Bible to guide instruction. So did Bible Baptist Christian School. Maybe just look at the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, one of the books of the Torah, as a basis for admission criteria and student conduct, then it would make sense that they must adhere to all of its commands and verses.

And breaking any of these should be grounds for having to refund the public school system with the very money taken with a voucher to pay for tuition at the private, religious school.

No Red Lobster!

Lev. 11: 9-12 says,

  1. “These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
  2. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
  3. They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
  4. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”

One cannot be caught eating at the Red Lobster or other seafood restaurant that serves certain prepared aquatic delicacies. Even if a student is not eating one of the forbidden menu items, watching others do so and not acting to stop it is just as much a sin.

No polyester / cotton blended t-shirts!

Lev. 19:19 says,

  1. Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

It doesn’t matter if the t-shirt has the school’s name and a picture of a cross; it breaks the law!

Hair better be done right! And no tattoos.

Lev. 19:27-28 says,

  1. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
  2. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

That’s right. No cutting of beards or tattoos of crosses on arms or legs, or anywhere.

Make sure to discriminate against those who are different.

Lev. 21: 17-21 says,

  1. Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
  2. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
  3. Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
  4. Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
  5. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

That’s right. If one is short, has a flat nose, is blind, crippled, has a curved spine, or wears glasses, he is not good enough to become a priest. Would that also mean that one who possesses one of those traits is not qualified to be a student at Bible Baptist or Temple Baptist?

No more sports. Or change the balls.

Lev. 11: 6-8 says,

  1. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
  2. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
  3. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Athletes can’t use pigskins. Both schools have athletics. Basketballs, volleyballs, and soccer balls used cannot have any leather. That would also include shoes. Athletic shoes in these sports tend to be made of leather.

Associating with mothers who went to church right after the birth of their children.

Lev. 12: 4-5 says,

  1. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
  2. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

That’s no church for the mother for 33 days after the birth of a boy. For girls it is 66 days.

No eating of fruit from a tree that is less than four years old.

Lev. 19: 23-24 says,

  1. And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
  2. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal.

That might be a lot of wasted fruit, but that is what the verses stipulate.

Your family can not own any land.

Lev. 25: 23 says,

  1. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

There should be no land deeds or evidence of property tax found in any home of any student.

There are many more laws in the other books of the Torah to explain, but if a religious school is to abide by one of them, then should they not abide by all of them? And if someone breaks the rules of the school is the school not allowed to expel the student? Sure. What if the school does not enforce the very statutes that is espouses? Then the penalty may have to be to give back the voucher money to the public schools.

However, there is one fundamental law that comes from the Bible that I think all schools should keep in mind whether public or one of the 300+ religious schools or private academies that receive voucher money. That is what Jesus said in Matthew 18 : 2-6.

  1. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
  2. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
  3. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
  4. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
  5. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

 

This Teacher Does Not Want To “Build Bridges” Or “Have A Seat At The Table” With Berger & Moore; I Want To Vote Them Out

Simply put, it’s hard to build bridges in this state with those who are making the very divides that separate us.

Before the Great Recession took hold of the country, North Carolina had what was considered the a public school system in the Southeast. That is no longer the case.

While other states have helped their public education systems recover, North Carolina’s General Assembly deliberately put into place measures that continued to weaken public education in the name of “reform” and privatization that included:

  • Removal of Graduate Degree Pay
  • Removal of Longevity Pay
  • Removal of Career Status
  • Removal of Due- Process Rights
  • School Performance Grading System
  • Bonus Pay Schemes
  • Vouchers
  • Charter Cap Removed
  • Class Size Chaos
  • Removal of Professional Development Funds

And there are many more.

When one surveys the terrain of North Carolina and sees just how many divides there exist, it might be easy to say that we need to “build bridges” and bring people back together again “at the table” to start a dialogue of how we can be great again.

But then it needs to be asked why those divides are there in the first place and why have certain parts of North Carolina been shut off from others.

Yes, public education can be the ultimate bridge that spans socio-economic divides, that links the rural to the urban, that allows for social gains, yet the parties who are in the construction of those bridges must be in complete synchronicity as far as goals and intentions are concerned.

But after watching lawmakers like Tim Moore and Phil Berger hold this state hostage through unethical measures to pass budgets, hold special sessions, and pass legislation that continuously weaken our public schools it has become apparent to this teacher that these are not the people with whom you build bridges.

In fact, why would public school advocates even want to “have a seat at the table” with them? Time and time again, the powers in the NCGA have shown that not only will they not invite teachers to the “table” but that they will go out of their way to make teachers part of the menu.

Yes, there has been a lot of talk about “building bridges” and having a place at the table.

But that is not happening.

When in the last eight years of Moore and Berger has there ever been any indication that teachers and public school advocates would be given even a small role in the building of metaphorical bridges much less have a “seat at the table?”

That’s not a rhetorical question.

How can one build a bridge or sit a table with a state superintendent who when 20+K teachers come to Raleigh runs the other way to avoid having to “confront” their needs and concerns?

How can one build a bridge or sit a table with a state superintendent who while making platitudes and vapid speeches about what will bring back greatness to NC’s schools actually reorganizes DPI, helps slash its budget, and then removes the exemption status from many in DPI so that they can be fired more easily?

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with lawmakers who actively promote the policies of the Koch brothers and their use of dark money?

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with a governing body that actively promotes the use of secret algorithms to measure our schools and our teachers?

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with people who allow North Carolina to be the only state that uses achievement scores more than growth to determine a school’s worth?

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with legislators who actively fought against Medicaid expansion in a state where over 20% of our public school students lives in poverty.

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with legislators who deliberately passed a budget bill through a committee (nuclear option) rather than open up the discussion for debates and amendments?

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with people who champion a voucher system that is considered the least transparent in the country and overwhelmingly goes to religious schools?

How can one build a bridge or sit at a table with people who champion charter school construction in places that jeopardize the very funds of the traditional public schools that already service those students?

How can one build a bridge or sit a table with people who knowingly allowed per-pupil expenditures to remain lower when adjusted for inflation than levels before 2008?

The list goes on and on….

And teachers know how to build bridges: differentiated structures that expand classrooms and curricula to bring students together in ways that help them achieve in academics and life. Teachers also know how to “set a table” that includes all stakeholders.

The gerrymandered lawmaking body in Raleigh that claims altruism CAN NOT AND WILL NOT.

In 2020, this state can set a new table and bring in a new “construction crew” to build bridges. The first step is voting for candidates who truly champion collaboration with teachers.

What we have in Raleigh is a group of people who have no interest in truly “building bridges” and bringing people “to the table.” Those people are more concerned with creating divides and putting public schools on the menu and teachers under the table.

So vote in 2020.

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In NC It’s Almost 40%: The Change In People Graduating Teacher Prep Programs

Below is a data graph that shows the percentage change in the number of people who complete a teacher prep program when comparing the years of 2008-2011 to the years of 2014 – 2017.

It was posted by Ed Fuller, Assistant Professor at Penn State University and tweeted out by Kris Nordstrom.

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That’s North Carolina 9th from the left with a nearly 40% decline of people completing teacher ed programs.

Only Rhode Island, Michigan, New York, Maine,  Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Illinois, and Puerto Rico have a higher “negative.”

Interestingly enough 2011 is the bookend of the “before” measurement that is used to find the data.

In 2011, the current NCGA lead legislators came to power and within the next six years did these actions:

  1. Removal of due-process rights for new teachers
  2. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed 
  3. Push for Merit Pay 
  4. “Average” Raises
  5. Health Insurance and Benefits Changes
  6. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE) 
  7. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests 
  8. Less Money Spent per Pupil When Adjusted For Inflation
  9. Removal of Caps on Class Sizes 
  10. Sacrificing of Specialties in Elementary Schools
  11. Jeb Bush School Grading System 
  12. Cutting Teacher Assistants
  13. Opportunity Grants 
  14. Unregulated Charter School Growth 
  15. For-Profit Virtual Charter Schools 
  16. Innovative School District 
  17. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program And Created a Much Smaller Version 
  18. Gave a Neophyte of a State Superintendent More Power Over DPI

Makes one wonder why there are so many fewer teachers coming into our schools in a state that has ballooned in population.

Actually, it is no wonder.

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Happy Birthday to Malcolm – Another Year of Awesome

Malcolm turns 12 today.

So a “Happy Birthday” to a kid who:

teaches everyone how to live in the present,
honestly tells you how he feels,
reminds me that special needs actually applies to everyone,
changes clothes three times a day because, well, because,
perfected the art of the smile,
calls me by my first name,
dances even when he is sick,
laughs infectiously,
eats ice cream with the respect good ice cream deserves,

and who takes every stereotype, crushes them in his hands, and throws them away because he does not believe that anyone is standard or average.

There’s a cake coming your way today, buddy.

After a game of basketball in the wind and the rain.

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This Teacher Is Tired Of Educators And Schools Being Measured By The Secret Algorithms And Changing Variables Of SAS

In 2013, the state of North Carolina started using a value-added measurement scale to help gauge teacher effectiveness and school performance. Developed by SAS which is headquartered in the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, EVAAS collects student data and creates reports that are used to measure teacher and school effectiveness.

EVAAS stands for “Education Value-Added Assessment System.” For teachers, it is supposed to give an indication of how well students are supposed to do in a given year on the tests that are used on evaluations. (Do not let it be lost on anyone that “EVAAS” scores were just released at the end of most schools’ first quarter after half of the block classes have already completed more than half of the curriculum’s work).

EVAAS has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny. It deserves every bit of that scrutiny. Why? Because the algorithms that it uses to come up with its calculations and reports are like a tightly held secret – by a private entity that receives money from DPI.

During the 2017-2018 school year, State Superintendent of Public Schools Mark Johnson released a video to all public school teachers announcing the new revamped state school report card system.

Here is a frame that is closed captioned –

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It says, “Recently, I launched the brand-new website for school report cards: schoolreportcards.nc.gov.”

That means it should be controlled by the state, correct?

Put that into your search bar and you get http://www.ncpublicschools.org/src/.

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It’s not the actual report card site – just a “Welcome” page. Notice that it has a link to the actual school report card site along with the following text:

North Carolina’s School Report Cards are presented two different ways, designed to meet the needs of all users. An interactive, easy-to-navigate section was redesigned in 2017 and is available here. This citizen-friendly website addresses the need for quick reference on topics that are most important to parents and educators. A more analytic section is intended for those who prefer a more detailed view of the data. The two areas, both designed and hosted by SAS and available to anyone, include printable versions of the North Carolina School Report Card snapshots.

The actual “School Report Card” website has a different domain name.

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It’s https://ncreportcards.ondemand.sas.com/src.

Once again, it’s SAS.

Then in the final days of April of 2019, Johnson introduced a new website designed for financial transparency.

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When one accesses that NC School Finances website, this screen appears:

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Look at the web address. Yes, it’s housed at SAS.

Many outlets such as one from WRAL have shown how flawed this “dashboard” is.

So, SAS controls/houses/computes the following:

  • EVAAS scores
  • School Performance Grades
  • Public School Financial Dashboard

Or rather, how teachers are measured, how schools are measured, and how financial data can be manipulated.

It seems rather ominous that three important components of how public education is perceived in NC is controlled by a private entity taking public money but not really sharing how they come to conclusions and data points that guide legislation in Raleigh.

Doesn’t seem right.

Because it’s not.

Another Ill-Timed Email From the State Superintendent

In a week that saw some of our selfish NCGA members use a Day of Remembrance to ram through a veto override vote three months after it was issued in an extended session that has cost taxpayers millions to keep convening, it is probably not a good time to send an email like the one Mark Johnson sent today.

About kindness.

Not because of what the good people at Butler High School are doing for their community to heal from last year’s shooting.

But because so much could have been done not only for them last year, but for other students, schools, and communities in the months after.

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This teacher cannot help but think that an email launching an initiative that already has been started by people at this school months ago is an attempt by Johnson to divert attention from issues that have negatively impacted his reputation.

And it’s hard not to remember that the state did not help Butler High as much as it should have last year in the wake of that shooting.

From Fox46 out of Charlotte in May of 2019:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Butler High School students will have to make up the day that was missing following a deadly school shooting. 

A message reportedly sent to families from Principal John LeGrand that was obtained by FOX 46 Charlotte, says the school is required by law to have students make up the day. 

The principal reportedly said school officials explored options which included seeking a special waiver from the NC legislature, adding 15 minutes to each day, or having the make-up day. The message says their waiver was turned down by the legislature and the second option would have caused logistical issues such as transportation and meal times.

One of the teachers, Elizabeth Mosley, at that school tweeted out this that same day:

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“Things the  doesn’t care about: providing adequate funding for student support services like counselors and nurses & passing common-sense gun legislation that would help reduce gun violence Things they do: punishing a traumatized school family so they can check a box.”

And she’s exactly right.

When checking boxes becomes a priority for lawmakers instead of the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of students in our schools, then we need new lawmakers.

Launching this on a state level is not bad at all. Ten months after the fact and taking credit for it on a state level when it belongs to the Butler High family is.

And the timing of the email – two days after the same NCGA that has been found to be constitutionally gerrymandered and carried out a surreptitious veto-override vote.

The same NCGA that allowed a municipal charter school bill to pass that will affect schools like Butler in Meck. County.

One can hope that Mark Johnson sent the same email to the entire NCGA.

Because they have not been practicing kindness at all.