The NC GOP Says It Has Made “Great Strides” In Education Despite What The Leandro Report Says. Maybe They Should Ask Teachers.

There are not many lawmakers who frequent the halls of public schools and rarely is there a lawmaker who actually works in the state public school system. But teachers, administrators, and other support personnel are on the front lines of education and see what actual growth and achievement occur in our schools. They see the direct effects of outside stressers such as poverty, badly crafted legislation, and inconsistent funding.

Veteran teachers have unique insight, especially those who have been in this state since before the Great Recession. It begs to take their word at high value when it comes to gauging how well the state has treated its public schools.

So when an article like the one posted today on the News & Observer’s website entitled “NC GOP promotes ‘incredible strides’ in education. Report says things have worsened” appears, it is interesting to see the political grandstanding of people like Tim Moore and Phil Berger and their attempts to spin what the Leandro Report stated.

That report was done by WestEd and that is a pro-charter school outfit. Yet, in their report, they identified with rather extensive data and reasoning that the state of North Carolina is not serving its public school students well.

The report from WestEd, a non-profit research group, contends that insufficient state funding has contributed to an education system where student achievement is lagging, teacher quality is dropping and many students are being left behind. The report, which was publicly released in December, criticizes several of the education changes that the General Assembly has made since Republicans gained the majority in 2011.

“Cutbacks that began during the Great Recession, beginning in 2008, and much deeper legislative cuts over the last few years have eliminated or greatly reduced many of the programs put in place during the 1990s, and this has begun to undermine the quality and equity gains that were previously made,” according to the report.

And then right after that excerpt comes this:

horschThat’s funny coming from the new spokesperson for Berger who at one time was a journalist known for asking candid questions that sought to expose the truth. Why? Because the real education experts are the teachers in the classrooms of our public schools, not the people who crafted ALEC-inspired reforms to public education.

In fact, if one really wants to see if those strides were “incredible” or actual steps backward, then maybe there should be a more honest teacher working conditions survey given out. Not the one we get every two years from DPI that never gets beyond a teacher’s perspective of his / her school, but one that asks MORE of their perceptions of the county / LEA leadership and state leadership.

Below are the main questions (there are subsets) asked on the survey that actual teachers answered in 2018.

  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about the use of time in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about your school facilities and resources.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about community support and involvement in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about managing student conduct in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about teacher leadership in your school.
  • Please indicate the role teachers have in each of the following areas in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about leadership in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about professional development in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about instructional practices and support in your school.

There is nothing about how teachers feel about the state’s role in how public schools operate or are funded. If Johnson and DPI were really keen on “listening” to teachers concerning their views about working in NC public schools, then the questions need to go beyond the “School” and explore the “state.”

Imagine if we as teachers got to answer questions such as:

  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about how the state helps schools with facilities and resources.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about the state’s support and involvement in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about state leadership at the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about state leadership.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about professional development sponsored by the state.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about  support for schools from the state.

When NC public schools receive a majority of their funds, mandates, stipulations, guidelines, and marching orders from the state, then should not the NC Teacher Working Condition Survey include teacher perceptions on the role of the state and its influence?

Yes.

Then you might get a real sense of whether the NC GOP has made “great strides.”

 

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