The NCGA Is Creating A Shortage Of People Who Want To Be Teachers – Here’s Why.

Veteran teachers openly discuss, study, and collaborate.

They fight for public schools.

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And veteran teachers scare the hell out of people like Phil Berger and Tim Moore.

The powers that rule in the North Carolina General Assembly under Berger and Moore have been waging a war against public schools in our state for the last eight years. Under the guise of “reform,” GOP ultra-conservatives driven by ALEC-crafted policies have successfully enabled and instituted privatization efforts in many forms: unregulated charter school development, expansive growth of unproven vouchers, underfunding traditional public schools, and even propped an educational neophyte as state superintendent who has passively allowed the very department that is set to protect public schools to be heinously undercut.

These calculated moves against public schools in North Carolina might signal the ultimate goal in overhauling education in the Old North State – the systematic elimination of the veteran teacher.

Let me rephrase that.

A gerrymandered lawmaking body has passed budget after budget further indicating that many lawmakers in Raleigh will go to any length to poach the educational profession of veteran teachers.

In the last eight 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, those pay “increases” do translate to causing veteran teachers to have to make career-ending decisions rather early in their careers.

Without promise of much pay increase and no graduate degree pay bumps, those future veteran teachers may have to leave a profession they not only excel in and love, but serve as models for younger teachers to ensure professional integrity, the kind that was allowed to shine in a North Carolina of yesteryear when Republican governors and lawmakers were in the forefront of making sure public schools were a strength. And those teachers will not have due-process rights that would allow them to speak up about issues like compensation for fear of reprisal.

Students will suffer; communities will suffer.

The taking away of retiree state health benefits for teachers hired after January of 2021 is another step to create a system where students are more or less taught by contractors because the endangered species known as the “veteran teacher” will come to the point of extinction.

That whole idea of getting “the state more in line with perks private-sector employees get” might be one of the most misleading mantras that rules the mindsets of these lawmakers and education reformers. Why make a public sector service run like a business when public schools aren’t allowed to be businesses? If that were a reality, then schools could treat lawmakers like a Board of Directors of sorts and then rally to oust them at any time beside election years.

If a lawmaker wants to argue that public schools should run like a business and that teachers, staff, and administration should be treated like private-sector employees, then that lawmaker might need to look at the converse and see how unrelated those two entities really are. In fact, I would invite any lawmaker who favors this budgetary move to try and see if he/she could run a business like a public school. Maybe the differences between a public service and private enterprise might become more apparent because one is not even comparing apples to oranges. One is comparing apples to rocks.

Right now, we are not attracting the best and brightest. Just look at the past eight years and see what has been done to make teaching an unenviable career in North Carolina. This NCGA is making sure that anyone who may want to teach in North Carolina in the future will not stay in the profession for long.

Sen. Chad Barefoot’s 2017 bill called SB599 should then not be so puzzling. Bringing in alternate teacher-preparation programs that can be controlled by the state weakens the profession overall. This bill was supposedly introduced to help with the shortage in teachers. Why would we have a shortage of teachers?

Rather, why do we have a shortage of people who want to be teachers?

That’s not a rhetorical question.

If the trends stay in place and we as a state do not replace those in Raleigh with lawmakers who will fully fund public schools and reinstate the very items that attract the best and brightest, then we will literally make the North Carolina veteran teacher an extinct entity.

Just look at the use of a “nuclear” option to pass last year’s budget without open debate or chance for amendment. That budget supposedly had more raises for teachers, just not for veteran teachers who have served this state for over two decades. If there is one thing that many GOP lawmakers like Berger, Moore, and others of their ilk (who don’t have term limits) despise more than veteran public school teachers, it’s open dialogue that may expose their hypocrisy.

And they sure as hell don’t collaborate unless it is in a locked room with only those of like opinions.

Veteran teachers openly discuss, study, and collaborate.

And we will fight.

In 2019, 2020, 2021, ….

The Echo Tunnel Of The NCGA – A Deliberate Insistence That Teachers Don’t Tell The Truth

No.

Not all NCGA lawmakers are ignorant to the plight of public schools and refuse to acknowledge what teachers say about working conditions and school resources.

But many of those in power do.

Yesterday, Rep. Deb Butler posted a tweet that acknowledged the plight of one teacher whose worry about economic security prompted her to reach out to an elected official.

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That very same day, Butler received a public records request from the Communications Director of the NCGOP demanding that she turn over the email which prompted Butler’s tweet.

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That individual, Jeff Hauser, simply did not believe that Butler was relaying the truth from this teacher.

So, she released the letter herself with permission, the first part of which is below.

 

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Justin Parmenter does an excellent job of explaining this exchange more deeply here.

Whether Hauser was acting on his own or at the behest of NCGOP stalwarts really is not the issue. What is at issue is the arrogance that seems to permeate the offices of those who make decisions about public education and still refuse to listen to the very teachers who know what is happening in our schools from the inside.

What happened here is hubris.

What happened here is bullying.

What happened is the product of being in a self-constructed echo-chamber.

And don’t think that journalists did not pick up on this as they rightfully should.

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Yet, Hauser’s “request” is not the first time that someone in Raleigh with political clout has refused to take the words of a teacher for truth because it would make politicians look bad.

Remember this from May, 2014 when Sen. David Curtis replied to a young Charlotte teacher about the teaching profession?

From: Sen. David Curtis

Date: May 12, 2014 at 9:46:57

Dear Sarah,

I have given your e-mail titled “I am embarrassed to confess: I am a teacher” some thought, and these are my ideas.  A teacher has an incredible influence on students–for good or for bad. My teachers, coaches, and Boy Scout leaders had a great influence on my decision to go to college which was not a family tradition. My concern is that your students are picking up on your attitude toward the teaching profession. Since you naturally do not want to remain in a profession of which you are ashamed, here are my suggestions for what you should tell your potential new private sector employer:

1.    You expect to make a lot more than you made as a teacher because everyone knows how poorly compensated teachers are.

2.    You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher

3.    You expect a defined contribution retirement plan that will guarantee you about $35,000 per year for life after working 30 years even if you live to be 104 years old. Your employer will need to put about $16,000 per year into your retirement plan each year combined with your $2,000 contribution for the next 30 years to achieve this benefit.  If he objects, explain to him that a judge has ruled that the taxpayers of North Carolina must provide this benefit to every public school teacher. Surely your new employer wants to give better benefits than the benefits you received as a poorly compensated teacher.

4.    Your potential employer may tell you that he has heard that most North Carolina workers make less than the national average because we are a low cost-of-living- state, private sector workers making 87% of the national average and teachers making 85% of the national average.  Tell him that may be true, but to keep that confidential because the teachers union has convinced parents that teachers are grossly undercompensated based on a flawed teachers union survey of teacher pay.

I support the teacher pay raise but am very concerned that the teachers union has successfully presented to the public a deceptive view of total teacher compensation that is simply not consistent with the facts.

Sincerely,

Senator David Curtis

The original letter he responded to can be found here.

His letter was sent to every lawmaker in Raleigh at the time to announce his “superior knowledge.” That arrogance, hubris, and bullying tone became reasons that I started this blog. I answered his letter.

Dear Senator Curtis,

I have given your email response to Ms. Sarah Wiles’s letter entitled “I am embarrassed to confess: I am a teacher” much thought, and I am embarrassed that you represent our state with such an attitude as was displayed. You are right: Teachers do have an incredible influence on students, However, your response only highlighted the uninformed, and, quite frankly, pompous stance that many in the NC legislature have adopted toward public education.

It is obvious that you were blessed to have great teachers in your life to enable you to achieve all that you talk about on your website, davidcurtisforncsenate.com. Think of all those teachers who helped you in elementary school, middle school, high school, undergraduate school and medical school. Clearly, they instilled in you a love of learning that has carried you throughout your life. Your life also seems to center around your faith, which probably was influenced by Sunday school teachers, pastors who went to schools and seminaries, and by the teachings of the greatest of teachers – Jesus Christ.

My concern is that your North Carolina constituents are “picking up on your (negative) attitude” toward the teaching profession. Since you naturally want the support of teachers in the next election cycle, here are my suggestions for what you could investigate and consider. I simply took your original itemized remarks from your “imaginary conversation with a private sector employer” and responded to them.

1. “You (Ms. Wiles) expect to make a lot more than you made as a teacher because everyone knows how poorly compensated teachers are.” Of course any teacher who makes a move to the private sector would expect more monetary compensation. Almost every other profession that requires a similar level of education and training as the teaching profession makes more monetarily than a teacher.

2. “You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher.” You mistake eight weeks of vacation with what is actually unemployment. Teachers have 10-month contracts. What you call “vacation” is actually unpaid time that is spent getting renewed certification, professional development, or advanced degrees—all of which are paid with teachers’ own money that gets taxed by the state. Until recently, the only way teachers can get a pay increase is to fund their own advanced education. But even that is no longer the case because of a crusade led by Pat McCrory and Thom Tillis to eliminate advanced-degree pay increases. Would you expect those who get their MBAs or MDs to forego the expected increase in salary? Of course not. Yet many of NC’s legislators seem appalled that teachers would expect the same.

3. “You expect a defined contribution retirement plan that will guarantee you about $35,000 per year for life after working 30 years even if you live to be 104 years old.” It is ironic that you talk about retirement plans for teachers, especially to younger professionals in education. Our retirement is tied to our salary. By law, we have to pay into the system. And don’t misunderstand me; I am grateful to have that. But when my pay stays frozen, my contribution to retirement stays frozen as well. As prices climb and as inflation exerts its influence, what I may get decades down the road probably will not support me and my family. Considering my age, I may not have the Social Security benefits that you will enjoy. In fact, the way it works now is that I pay into a system that will benefit you before I see any return in my own life. It is also ironic that you, too, will receive retirement pay from the state as a legislator, but have much more say about your state pension than I get with mine. If you need reminding, simply reference the following article:http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/26/1884711/amid-retirements-state-lawmakers.html.

4. “Your potential employer may tell you that he has heard that most North Carolina workers make less than the national average because we are a low cost-of-living- state, private sector workers making 87% of the national average and teachers making 85% of the national average.” You imply that low teacher salaries are justifiable because of low cost-of-living expenses; however, that logic does not hold water unless you can prove that the cost of living has frozen in North Carolina. It would help to study the relationship of consumer indexes and teacher salaries for NC and the surrounding states. Furthermore, if you want to attract more industry and business to North Carolina, you need to convince companies that their employees’ families will have a good education system and a quality of life based on their productivity and company success instead of the state’s cost of living.

5. “The teachers union has convinced parents that teachers are grossly undercompensated based on a flawed teachers union survey of teacher pay. “ Where is a teacher union in North Carolina? Are you referring to NCAE? That’s not a union; that’s an association. If you want to see how a teachers’ union works, go to Chicago and New York City. Now, those are unions.

Whether you are in Denver, NC, or Denver, CO, you need to understand investing in teacher pay is not to quench some thirst for greed. It is needed to keep the best and most experienced teachers here in North Carolina, teaching our students because those students are the biggest investment we have. Many of them go on to be successful private sector employers. Your website devotes a great deal of space explaining the importance you place on family-centered values. I think the vast majority of NC families believe their children – who are the future of this state – are valuable enough to make teacher pay attractive to the best educators, regardless of the cost of living.

And last, whether you intended it or not, the tone in your response to Ms. Wiles came across as condescending and patronizing. It was not a tone or attitude you would want to witness in a classroom, and it certainly is not an attitude North Carolinians want to witness in their legislators.

Curtis never answered back. He crawled back into his echo-chamber and fortified it.

It’s the same one that many in Raleigh still reside within.

What happened to Rep. Butler and the teacher she was helping proves that.

 

 

“Deep State” & Deep S*#%: The Shallow Talking Point Of Mark Johnson

“I’ve seen first-hand how bad state government can be. I’ve already been in the trenches fighting the deep state in state bureaucracy.” – Mark Johnson, November, 2019.

Johnson said this in his statement when he announced his bid to become lieutenant  governor of North Carolina.

A man who is barely 36 years of age who has been a teacher, went to law school, lawyer, school board member, and state superintendent who told us he happens to still be a lawyer, is telling us about the “deep state.”

I wonder if Mark Johnson would be willing to define the term “deep state.” If one is a lawyer as Johnson says he is, then he should look for concrete evidence. The rules of discovery compel him to do so.

Google the term and you get this:

a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies or the military, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy

deep state

“Typically influential members of government agencies?”

So, who could that be?

According to a report from WXII.com (Winston-Salem), there are two particular people who have been the most influential members of North Carolina’s government agencies.

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Phil Berger & Tim Moore. And it did not take a report from the NBC affiliate in the Triad to make that assertion. Any public school advocate could have told you those two are the most powerful politicians in the state.

And they are the “deep state.”

Now can Mark Johnson in any way, shape, or form show where he has “been in the trenches fighting the deep state?”

No, I didn’t think so.

That’s why what Mark Johnson is saying is just deep s*#%.

 

 

 

 

 

NC Lawmakers Brag About Average Teacher Pay ($53,975). Here’s Why That is Misleading.

From March of 2019 in the News & Observer about the new 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-nine 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.

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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 the current spokesperson for Sen. Phil Berger care to debunk this?

Looking At That Erroneous Claim That Cooper Vetoed A “3.9% Pay Raise” For Teachers

A graphic has been circulating on social media that portrays Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest veto of an NC Senate bill concerning teacher raises in NC as a slap in the face of teachers.

The problem is that the graphic is a woeful misrepresentation of the actual “raises” that were to be given out under the Senate’s plan. In fact, Cooper was right in issuing a veto because those raises were surgically constructed to have a glossy exterior but an empty effect.

That particular veto concerned Senate Bill 354.

SB354 1

That bill would have put the following salary schedule in place for teachers.

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It would have replaced this salary schedule.

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The problem is that there is not much of a difference. In fact, it would only affect teachers with 16+ years and even then, not much at all. Just look at the comparison.

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What that translates to is a monthly increase of $50 for all teachers with 16-20 years of experience.

150$/month for teachers with 21-24 years of experience.

$60/month for teachers with 25+ years.

But look at it in this manner – Why? Because it is important to note that the number of veteran teachers in North Carolina has gone down in the last few years – especially when the current NCGA powers who are currently bragging about what SB354 was offering.

Kristin Beller, the president of the Wake County Association of Educators and a champion in public school advocacy, “ran” these numbers concerning the proposed raises in SB354 against the current numbers of teachers in the state (those numbers can be  found here).

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The first part concerns the numbers of teachers in the state broken down by experience.

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Then she added numbers in the categories defined by SB354’s compensation ranges and showed the percentage of those groups as part of the entire teacher workforce.

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Then she multiplied the number of teachers in each rung that would get a raise by the actual monthly raise defined by SB354 and then added those products together. That sum is the amount of overall money given to the raises.

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Since the graphic at the beginning of the post “represents” the entire teaching profession getting an average “%3.9” raise, then it means that every teacher should have gotten something. Right?

Not so.

Furthermore, if you divide the sum of money to be used in the raises by the number of teachers in the state, you get… less than $33/month.

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And yes, that bill had “raises” for the following year.

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It does the exact same thing as the 2019-2020. Except it only adds $50 a month to each of the teachers in the 16+ year experience range.

That’s what Cooper vetoed.

His plan would have been much better for all teachers.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Teachers Should Be Wary of EVAAS and SAS

In October of 2017, the venerable James Ford of the Public School Forum delivered the keynote address at the North Carolina English Teacher’s Association. It was more than exceptional as Ford highlighted that what hurts our schools most are external factors that are not being dealt with such as systemic poverty.

Part of his presentation included a version of what is called the “Iceberg Effect” for education. It looks like this:

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Ford talked about (and he is not alone in this belief) how what is above the water, namely student outcomes, is what drives educational policies in our state.

Notice that he means what is visible above the water line is what drives policy. That is what the public sees in the press. That is what lawmakers and leaders hark on when discussing what to do about public education. That is what is being used to measure the effectiveness of teachers and schools.

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.

Think of the iceberg and what is seen and what is under the water line.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction describes EVAAS as:

EVAAS examines the impact of teachers, schools, and districts on the learning of their students in specific courses, grades, and subjects. Users can access colorful, easy-to-understand charts and graphs via the Web, as well as produce customized reports that predict student success, show the effects of schooling at particular schools, or reveal patterns in subgroup performance (http://www.ncpublicschools.org/effectiveness-model/evaas/).

There is even a nice little video that one can go to in order to “understand how EVAAS” works (https://ncdpi.sas.com/videos/EVAAS/WhatIsEVAAS.mp4).

EVAAS pic

The whole video is an attempt to validate the use of EVAAS by the state. Except it does not tell anyone how “EVAAS performs value-added analysis.” The only people who know how that works are inside of the Hawkins National Laboratory or as we know it, SAS headquarters.

In March of 2017, Angela Scioli wrote a powerful piece for EDNC.org entitled “EVAAS: An incomplete and painful system for me.” In it she stated,

I did not change anything else about my teaching.  I did not know what to change.  No one met with me to intervene.  No one even spoke to me about the results.  It just sat there, like a black eye I couldn’t cover up, but no one wanted to talk about it.  

The next year, I received my EVAAS results, after using the same methods, and I was now deemed “highly effective.”  I was relieved and confused.  How could that be? (https://www.ednc.org/2017/03/21/evaas-incomplete-painful-system/).   

Justin Parmenter’s op-ed entitled “The cost of doing business in the education world” (August 9, 2017) was another powerful expose of a world in which EVAAS is being used to measure teachers and schools. He said,

In the years that followed, EVAAS was rolled out on a larger scale across the district and state, and similar data measuring teacher effectiveness was made available to more teachers. I was dismayed to see that, while some years I apparently had made a difference, there were other years when I did not make much of a difference at all. Some years I even made a negative difference (https://www.ednc.org/2017/08/09/cost-business-education-world/).

This criticism of EVAAS is not limited to North Carolina. From the National Education Policy Center:

Education Policy Analysis Archives recently published an article by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley and Clarin Collins that effectively exposes the Houston Independent School District use of a value-added teacher evaluation system as a disaster. The Educational Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) is alleged by its creators, the European software giant SAS, to be the “the most robust and reliable” system of teacher evaluation ever invented. Amrein-Beardsley and Collins demonstrate to the contrary that EVAAS is a psychometric bad joke and a nightmare to teachers” (http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/houston-you-have-problem).

And the ambiguity of how SAS uses data within the EVAAS program is not lost on many people. From a 2014 WUNC report called “Ranking Teachers: NC Bets Big On A Complicated Stats Model,”

EVAAS is based on that student growth, not the test score itself. And the software is complicated – and some say largely secret. Teachers, principals, even administrators at the state level don’t know everything that goes into the model.

“Now the statisticians, and I’m not a statistician – I’m not the smartest guy in the world – they would say that stuff should even out, and I think they are correct, I’m sure it does even out, when you look at statewide data,” says Jim Key, an assistant superintendent in Durham. “But within a particular classroom? You could have more than a normal share of students who are going through some challenges with their personal lives” (http://wunc.org/post/ranking-teachers-nc-bets-big-complicated-stats-model#stream/0).

That last quote from Mr. Key accurately sums up the relationship between the EVAAS program and the Iceberg Effect.

Simply put, EVAAS only measures what is the tip of the iceberg that is above the water and then it tells us how to view it. It completely disregards what is under the water level.

LET ME REPEAT: EVAAS ONLY MEASURES WHAT IS TO BE SEEN, NOT WHAT LIES UNDERNEATH. IT IS ONLY CONCERNED WITH STUDENT OUTCOMES. IT DOES NOT ACCOUNT FOR “INEQUITY & INEQUALITY,” “STRESS & VIOLENCE,” “SUPPORT FOR SCHOOLS,” AND “SUPPORT FOR YOUNG FAMILIES.”

Teachers and schools measured by EVAAS actually have to battle against all of the iceberg, not just the tip which is by far the smallest part of the iceberg.

The state pays more than three million dollars annually to SAS which was co-founded and is still run by Jim Goodnight who according to Forbes Magazine is one of the top donating executives to political campaigns. In 2016 he donated much to a PAC for Jeb Bush who while in Florida instituted the school performance grade system that North Carolina uses now – the same one that utilizes EVAAS reports to measure schools (https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/techflash/2015/10/forbes-sas-goodnight-among-tech-execs-for-top.html).

It also is worth looking at the fact that his wife, Ann Goodnight, is a co-founder and board member of BEST NC. When BEST NC had its 2018 legislative meeting it brought in the toxic Michelle Rhee and her campaign for value-added measurements to discuss policy. That “closed-door” meeting was held at SAS headquarters.

The recent principal pay schedule that has garnered well-deserved criticism was spearheaded by BEST NC with legislators behind the scenes over the summer utilizes EVAAS data.

Too much is being dictated by a private entity that is privately calculating data in a secret fashion to measure a public good and how much should be spent on that public good in a state that wants to privatize that public good.

There’s too much incestuous synergy there. And all of it is purposefully ignoring the part of the iceberg that is beneath the water line.

In using EVAAS, what the state of North Carolina is doing is sending schools on expeditions in remote icy waters without the use of radar and sonar to navigate themselves. It’s like the Titanic.

But instead of being surprised at the fact that the “unsinkable” actually succumbed to a lonely iceberg, the state has already made a hole in the hull for water to leak in, so even if the “ships” avoid hitting icebergs, they would already have a hard time reaching port. As the “unsinkable” ships begin to sink, the state says we must invest in other alternatives like charter school reform and vouchers, so the money starts going to other modes of “transportation.”

The problem is that the icebergs in our state are getting bigger and more are breaking off. As the income gap widens and as segregationist tendencies begin to take firmer root, systems like EVAAS will still serve as a façade of the actual truth which lies beneath the water.

Of course, SAS could release how it uses data and calculates its reports but that would require transparency.

But icebergs work best in cold, murky, choppy waters. And people in Raleigh like having big icebergs.

Sen. Ralph Hise’s Hilarious Shortsighted Assertion About NCAE. It Really Shows His Fear of Teachers When They Organize.

Today, Sen. Ralph Hise went out of his way to release a statement trying to frame NCAE as an organization that does not actually have a large membership and the best interests of the teaching profession in mind.

In fact, he claimed that NCAE only represented a little over 5% of teachers in North Carolina.

HiseNCAE1

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Of course Hise’s press release has a quote from Hise:

“The NCAE, which represents just 5% of teachers, is fighting tooth and nail to keep the other 95% of teachers from getting a pay raise.”

What Hise was referring to was a report from the State Auditor’s office (Beth Wood) about membership in organizations that allow for automatic deductions for membership dues.

It has this data table:

HiseNCAE4

First, the idea that Hise is trumpeting a report about finances and honest reporting of political organization is rather funny. And ironic. Consider this:

HiseNCAE5

Add to that, Hise is a statistician by trade. He should know numbers and he is deliberately misleading in his statement about NCAE’s membership. The very report he “quotes” tells us that. Look again.

HiseNCAE4

Only one group on that list has a membership that fully pays through payroll deductions. In fact, at least two of the groups have memberships that are ten times the amount of people who use payroll deduction. Any statistician would know better than to misrepresent the numbers in a statement (unless he did it for political purposes).

There are two other teacher advocacy groups on that list whose memberships are mostly represented by people who do not use payroll deduction. PENC has 4.59 times the total number of members as their payroll deduction members. The NCCTA has 16.39 times the total number of members.

If NCAE followed those trends (and it does), it could might have a membership of at least 24,744.

That’s a pretty big number. What would that look like? Something like this:

IMG_6484

If it had the same ratio as NCCTA, then that number would be around 88,000.

Wow! Probably not that much, but….

If Hise is going to deliberately make the claim that NCAE only represents 5% of all teachers when the report suggests otherwise, then it probably means a few things:

  1. He’s a really bad statistician.
  2. He doesn’t read reports from auditors well.
  3. He’s making an extremely bad partisan jab at NCAE.
  4. He’s actually scared of what happens when teachers organize.
  5. He knows that he and his cronies are not as powerful as they used to be.

OR…

All the above.

Oh, and don’t think that when Rep. Rick Horner repeated the claim on his Facebook account that it went unnoticed.

HiseNCAE3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confusing Being Complicit With Fighting For Public Schools And Advocating For Students

This week Mark Johnson, the first term state superintendent, declared his candidacy for Lt. Governor for NC with the hope of becoming an extension of Dan Forest’s quest to further privatize the public school system.

Below is the transcript of the press release given by Johnson about his announcement. The word “fight” is highlighted in red each instance it is used.

“Four years ago, I declared my candidacy for statewide office because I recognized that change was needed. Establishment folks were quick to tell me that I should wait my turn or that I couldn’t win because I wasn’t old enough. But waiting was not an option because I recognized what North Carolina parents and educators already knew, more of the same wasn’t working for public education in North Carolina!

The more I campaigned on a message of change, the more pushback I encountered from the political system. Media Elites and Establishment Insiders, Republican and Democrat alike, were scared of the prospect of someone in office who would not just go along to get along. I ignored the naysayers and focused on the concerns working families shared with me about their children’s education. And together on Election Night, we proved the Establishmentarians wrong, and they were terrified.

Before I was even sworn into office, Establishment Republicans and Democrats on the NC Board of Education sued me at taxpayer expense in a desperate attempt to fight change. They spent education funding on lawyers in courtrooms instead of teachers in classrooms so they could protect Common Core and other status quo strategies that haven’t worked.

My team and I fought, we won, and we went to work transforming the state education agency. We’ve worked for and secured raises for teachers, reductions in testing, and new tools and strategies that help each student learn at their own pace instead of getting left behind.

But this positive change has been a fight every step of the way. When we found $15 million that Democrats were keeping for the state bureaucracy instead of sending to teachers, we even got criticized for getting that money to the teachers it was intended for! North Carolinians need to know that the Political System in Raleigh fights first and foremost for Bureaucratic Fiefdoms. That has to stop.

North Carolina deserves a leader who will fight to make all government more accountable, more efficient, and more transparent. That’s why today I am declaring my candidacy for Lt. Governor of North Carolina. I’ve seen first-hand how bad state government can be. I’ve already been in the trenches fighting the deep state in state bureaucracy.

To be clear, the vast majority of DPI employees are hard working professionals who seek to do their job to the best of their ability. They care about what’s best for public education in North Carolina. But they could not pursue what was best because the Establishment at the top only wanted more of the same.

NC DPI was a broken system focused more on protecting the Establishment’s status quo standards, tools, and strategies. They were content to stand in place rather than move forward.

North Carolina should be a 21st century leader, but we can’t do it with the relics of a 20th century bureaucracy. I want to take the fight to the next level. If you want more of the same, vote for someone else. If you want to continue the fight for change, vote Mark Johnson for Lieutenant Governor.

This campaign will be about what’s best for the working families of North Carolina, not the Media Elites or Establishment Insiders.”

The word “fight” (and it’s other forms) appears eight times as does enough charged buzzwords to make one think that Johnson is trying to become another version of Sarah Palin and “going rogue.”

But the way he uses “fight” in no way represents what Johnson has done in office.

Consider this – a corporate attorney who taught for two school years through a program that historically does not place many long term teachers into the public schools and who did not complete a full term as a school board member was elected in the most contentious election year in recent memory  on a “red wave” to become state superintendent.

After he was elected and before he took office, he was granted more power as a state superintendent by a gerrymandered legislature in a special session that was thought to be called to repeal HB2. He has spent more than half his entire term “embroiled” in a legal battle with the state board of education that was controlled by the same political party and literally was (still is) a non-public figure while budgets expand vouchers, keep charter schools from being regulated, stagnate per pupil expenditures for traditional public schools, and cut the budgets for the very department he is supposed to run.

All on the taxpayers’ dime.

And he says he is a fighter?

No, he is complicit.

If it was so important for the state superintendent to have new power over the public school system that was originally in the hands of the state board of education, then should not have each preceding state superintendent been given the same power?

Apparently not. Why not? Because each preceding state superintendent was much more qualified to be such than Johnson is. Each preceding state superintendent would have fought against the measures that have been enabled, enacted, and empowered by the current NCGA because that would have been in the best interests of the traditional public school system.

Have you ever seen Mark Johnson rally for traditional public schools? Have you ever seen him actually go to a large group of teachers and hold himself accountable? Has he ever gone in front of a group of superintendents and held himself accountable?

No.

Because he’s complicit.

The state of North Carolina needs an educational leader to lead the public school system – a person not afraid to confront the likes of Phil Berger and instruct him that he has been abusing the system. We need someone who will fight for the public schools and place principles before personalities.

Not someone who is complicit.

Like Mark Johnson.

Except for maybe doughnuts.

doughnuts

 

 

Remember When Hurricane Florence Was Used To Launch A Personal Campaign Website? Mark Johnson’s www.ncsuperintendent.com

Remember that website Mark Johnson created to deal with Hurricane Florence 14 months ago that looked like a campaign website?

The one that he still refers to continuously in his glossy flyers and multiple emails?

Well, now that he is running for Lt. Gov. it makes even more sense.

From September 14, 2018 on this blog:

When State Superintendent Mark Johnson launched a new “personal” website (www.ncsuperintendent.com) this week that takes advantage of his title and position and negates all other personnel in DPI what he actually did was to create an unethically built campaign website using public resources.

Even if it was done with no taxpayer money (it was set up in GoDaddy.com) , branding it with a publicly held state department and using DPI’s actual site to advertise it is still using taxpayer resources to maintain the new website’s profile and reach.

And it is using the emergency that is Hurricane Florence to manipulate people looking at it and using it for information that the already existent DPI website provides without a bias to it.

This was sent out to DPI employess this week.

notice

It says,

Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Florence, DPI Technology Services will be following the guidance of the N.C. Department of Information Technology and shutting down the DPI data center at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13.

The following services will be affected by the shutdown:

    • The DPI building wired network and wireless network
    • The DPI website ncpublicschools.org (NCsuperintendent.com and parts of stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov will not be affected)
    • HRMS – Human Resource Management System
    • NcWise Owl – Learning resources for the suite of HomeBase applications
    • NC-SIS – Learning resources for the suite of HomeBase applications
    • Financial and business applications hosted here at DPI such as Salary Compliance, Cash Management, Host on Demand and XNet would be unavailable within the building.

Ironic that the Raleigh area still has power and that every other state agency’s websites are still up and functional. And now people will have to go to a website that masquerades as a service but actually is a campaign site that only serves one person: Mark Johnson.

How can one tell if it is a campaign website? Every element of it is something that most campaign websites would have.

  1. It has links to social media outlets.

social media

2. It collects names and information from people to build a database for the upcoming 2020 election cycle.

johnson1

3. It highlights a priority list of issues that sound like campaign talking points.

priorities

4, There is a “get to know me” section to introduce himself to voters.

meet me

 

5. It offers press releases that are highly favorable to one person: Mark Johnson.

press releases

6. It offers plenty of “PR” pictures and running video for the one person that the website serves: Mark Johnson.

pr.png

7. One can request a “campaign” visit from the site.

contact

8. It’s a .com and not a .org. 

.com

The only two specific things that are missing that might make it the most blatant campaign website ever are that it there is not a “donations” page or a place to sign up to be a volunteer. And one cannot have those two things unless one has already declared to be running for an office which Johnson has not.

But that rumor mill has been running for a while and http://www.ncsuperintendent.com is not really hiding any intentions here.

And it’s launching literally without any other “DPI’ related site available because of the hurricane.

It smells like those hog waste pits that are being overrun by rising waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Get When You Cross a Lame Duck With A Professional Candidate? Our State Superintendent

Today Mark Johnson ended months of open secrecy by announcing his candidacy for Lt. Gov. of North Carolina using Trumpian buzzwords like “deep state,” Media Elite,”and “Establishment Insiders.”

But it doesn’t change the fact that we still have a lame duck in the office of state superintendent for the next year.

Image

(Quotes are from the N&O)

“North Carolina deserves a leader who will fight to make all government more accountable, more efficient, and more transparent.” 

Makes one think of the iStation contract and the purchase of those iPads.

“I’ve seen first-hand how bad state government can be. I’ve already been in the trenches fighting the deep state in state bureaucracy.”

Great, now he is talking about the “deep state” when his party controlled the governor’s mansion, had a supermajority in the NCGA for years, and actually had a State Board of Education when he was running for state super in 2016.

And the words” fight” and “Mark Johnson” have never collided in the same truthful sentence.

“…what’s best for the working families of North Carolina, not the Media Elites or Establishment Insiders.”

Which media elites? And aren’t the “Establishment Insiders” the very people who propped him up (HB17)?

Johnson referenced those fights in his campaign announcement, saying he’s had to fight against “Establishment Republicans and Democrats on the NC Board of Education” who’ve opposed his efforts to transform the state Department of Public Instruction.

Johnson didn’t fight. His handlers did. With taxpayer money. And it’s funny that Johnson calls others “Establishment” when at age 36 he is running for office the third time and each time was for a different office.

“NC DPI was a broken system focused more on protecting the Establishment’s status quo standards, tools, and strategies. They were content to stand in place rather than move forward.”

Actually DPI was not a broken system. It was simply handcuffed by the NCGA – you know, the “Establishment” that MJ wants you to think he’s fighting against but is really being a puppet for.

“North Carolina should be a 21st century leader, but we can’t do it with the relics of a 20th century bureaucracy. I want to take the fight to the next level. If you want more of the same, vote for someone else. If you want to continue the fight for change, vote Mark Johnson for Lieutenant Governor.”

Have you seen DPI’s new organizational flowchart?

reorg.png

 

And those changes that Johnson seems to talked glowingly about? Here they are.

  1. Johnson said that he conducted a “listening tour” around the state to gather ideas and to help craft innovations in classroom teaching. He said at one time that he would present those findings when that tour was over in the first summer. But North Carolinians have not really heard anything except some glittering generalities.
  2. Johnson said that he would decrease the amount of standardized testing that NC would subject students. But the current bill in the NCGA does not alter school performance grades and seems to place a more emphasis on the ACT.
  3. Johnson celebrated the “revamped” NC School Report Card website and further entrenched our state into a relationship with SAS and its secret algorithms. Furthermore, he made sure that a system that actually shows how poverty affects school achievement is more rooted in NC.
  4. Johnson celebrated the launching of  NC School Financial transparency website and again further entrenched our state into a relationship with SAS. And that’s ironic because Johnson has been rather “nontransparent” with how he has spent money and financed contracts.
  5. Johnson called for an audit of the Department of Public Education. And that million dollar audit to find wasteful spending actually showed that DPI was underfunded. So…
  6. Johnson did a reorganization of DPI and replaced high ranking officials with loyalists from the charter industry and made them only answer to him and not the State Board of Education.
  7. Johnson’s reorganization came after he won an empty lawsuit against the state board over having more powers over the DPI budget. That lawsuit lasted until the second summer of his term.
  8.  Johnson seemed rather complicit with the legislature cutting the budget for DPI while he was actually taking taxpayer money to fight the state school board over the power grab that the NCGA did in a special session that gave him control over elements of the school system that the voting public did not actually elect him to have.
  9. Johnson rallied for school choice advocates and never rallied with public school teachers. In fact, on May 16th, 2018 he left town. On May 1st, 2019, he never met with teachers.
  10. Johnson had such an acrimonious relationship with the state board that three of them resigned their posts before the expiration of their terms so a governor from the other political party could appoint members to oppose the agenda of the people enabling Johnson.
  11. Johnson bought 6 million dollars worth of iPads for some teachers. They never requested them. And the money came from where?
  12. Johnson supported both the extensions and renewed investment of two failed initiatives: Read to Achieve and the NC Virtual Charter Schools.
  13. Johnson championed the Innovative School District which to date has one school. One. And will now have its third superintendent. And the second principal. And a failing school performance grade.
  14. Johnson has set up a personal website to act like a website for information about his job and initiative, but really looks more like a campaign website. And he used a hurricane as the reason for doing it.
  15. Johnson has used questionnaires and surveys to literally gather information that was already known. In fact, just this past week, he told us that teachers and parents do not like all of this testing.
  16. Johnson hosted Jeb Bush in the summer of 2018. Jeb Bush is a leading privatization champion of the public school systemics in the nation.
  17. Johnson said he would eat doughnuts and run a mile or two for us. Doughnuts.
  18. Johnson held a private dinner to make announcements about public education in February of 2018. He launched his #NC2030 initiative. Not really been talked about since.
  19. Johnson used a for-profit company to “allow” teachers to get “supplies” for the new school year. Class Wallet – this will hurt local districts because now things can not be bought in bulk and have to be purchased through more laborious channels.
  20. Johnson has championed Read to Achieve. It is a failed initiative – not because of the vendors, but because of its design and implementation.
  21. Johnson unilaterally decided to sign a contract with iStation. And he still hasn’t come clean about all of that.

The man who spent less than two calendar years as a teacher and who never finished his term as a school board member is now ramping up a campaign for the second highest office in the state while not having even finished his term as a state superintendent.

He’s a professional “candidate” who claims to fight against the “Establishment.”

He is still a lame duck of an educational leader.

And I can’t wait to hear what DPI employees say about him when he is gone.