This Candidate Needs To Clarify Her Stance On Graduate Degree Pay For Teachers (Because Her “University” Is Saying Something Else)

In 2013, the NC General Assembly took away graduate degree pay raises for new teacher hires.

Pat McCrory was the governor of NC at that time.

Candidate for the office of state superintendent Catherine Truitt was for a time a senior education advisor for then Gov. McCrory.

Apparently her ideas on how to “improve” education aligned with his.

Now Truitt is the chancellor of Western Governor’s University of North Carolina, an online university that offers teacher licensure without ever going to a physical classroom for classes before a student teaching experience.

In fact, you can get a Master’s Degree from WGU in education.

Look at that small type.

For current teachers, a graduate degree or endorsement can help you specialize your career and may qualify you for a salary increase or lane change. 

May qualify you for a salary increase?

Wait. North Carolina does not do that anymore for teachers.

So, Mrs. Truitt. Are you in favor of restoring graduate degree pay raises for teachers in North Carolina and why are you allowing for WGU to promote a master’s degree in education as a means of obtaining a salary increase?

Seems a little disingenuous.

About That Apology From The School Board Member Who Used The “R” Word

What happened last week during a virtual meeting of the Cabarrus County Board of Education has already made many headlines across the state.

Yet, if you have not heard about it, a member, Laura Blackwell, responded to another board member with a derogatory term that is considered offensive without turning off her audio feed.

From the Concord Independent Tribune:

From another report form the same source:

Yes. It was offensive of her to use the word “retarded.” It was meant to be derogatory and demeaning in the context in which it was said. She is a school board member and that should not be used by a school board member in any capacity given that she has been elected to represent all school children no matter the obstacles some may face.

And she was elected to do this job which menas she wanted to be in this position.

Furthermore, there is an unprecedented pandemic going on that requires leaders to be even more like… leaders.

Petitions to remove her and open calls for her resignation have been plentiful and they are right to be made.

As a veteran teacher in public high schools, this would offend me as a professional. As a parent of public school students, this offends me.

And as a parent of a child with an extra chromosome and intellectual/developmental delays who has been called “retarded” and knows the intentions of the word, I am more than offended.

But it was her apology that really angers me. Why? Because it seemed more like an explanation of why she said it that drifted off into an explanation of victimhood.

“I want to take this opportunity to address the very unfortunate incident that took place at last night’s school board meeting. During one of the breaks, my microphone remained on and comments that were made in private suddenly became very public. Whether in private or public, I acknowledge my comments were insensitive and inappropriate.

“I allowed my immense passion for the welfare of our children and for serving this community to manifest itself through emotion and frustration. Although I never intended to offend anyone, I do realize that my words had the potential to cause pain and reinforce a negative stereotype. I deeply regret my choice of words and I sincerely apologize to anyone that I may have offended.

“The last 12 hours have been some of the most difficult of my life. I have received messages that have both questioned my integrity and my character.

“However, not to be overshadowed by hatred and political posturing, has been an overwhelming amount of loving support from so many of you that know my heart and believe in the work that we are trying to accomplish together. Because of each of you, tomorrow morning I will dust myself off and get right back to serving this community, our students, our amazing faculty and staff members and this country with the same level of passion as I had on Day 1.”

It reads more like she said, “I want to address something that was said” rather than “address a direct action on my part.”

“Comments” were not “made.” She actively shared her thoughts.

I allowed my immense passion for the welfare of our children and for serving this community to manifest itself through emotion and frustration.” What???? That reads more like “I so love these kids no matter their obstacles that my passion made me say something like this in a moment of time when I thought no one else could hear me.”

She didn’t blurt out these words. She saved them to be said in an arena she thought she could control. That’s not passion. That’s “I have used these words before, but made sure that they were not said in public because I know how people take it.”

“The last 12 hours of my life have been some of the most difficult of my life.” Imagine being in this pandemic without a job and a dealing with a government that refuses to offer more help.

“Overshadowed by hatred and political posturing?” Mrs. Blackwell forgets that her “insensitive and inappropriate” words certainly were not said out of love and in fact were in response to political actions taken by the state.

In 23 years of teaching high school English in two states and three large schools, I would say that I have heard the gambit of offensive language that comes from the mouths of teenagers. Inappropriate words can be said flippantly or directly in response to a lot of actions or things said.

But, it really has been a while since I have heard a teenager use the word “retarded” within my ear shot. Yes, most students I come into contact with know I have a son with Down Syndrome, but those same students have mostly discarded using that word as they see its power and its effects.

It says a lot when the only time in recent memory that I have heard with my own ears that word used as a derogatory term comes from a school board member during a public meeting who professes a “high level of passion” for public service as part of an election platform.

She should resign.

If This Man Is Elected, He Will Be On The State Board Of Education For Public Schools

This is not the kind of person who needs to be on the State Board of Education.

As a teacher in a public school, I am bound to keep my classroom as free of prejudice, racism, and other forms of discrimination as humanly possible.

I would expect that from an elected official who was to knowingly serve public schools on the SBOE.

An Actual GOP Bill That May Allow “Genital Checks” For High School Female Sports

Remember the bathroom bill constructed by then state legislator Dan Bishop called HB2?

One of the nebulous things about that bill was how gender would be determined if it needed to be checked on the spot. Not many people carried around birth certificates on their person.

Maybe the bill needed to have had a provision for genital checking.

Well, there is another bill that might allow for it, but instead of if being a state bill, it is national.

From lgbtqnation.com:

The bill would explicitly state that allowing transgender girls and women to compete with their gender in school sports violates Title IX’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex in schools, which is the legal theory the Trump administration is already using to threaten funding for school districts.

Loeffler’s bill, which says nothing about transgender boys competing in boys’ and men’s sports, says that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth” in girls’ and women’s sports.

But it is a little vague:

While Loeffler’s bill does not explain exactly how schools will determine an athlete’s gender, it defines eligibility for sports in terms of reproductive organs and chromosomes suggests that it may lead to similar examinations as the Idaho bill.

With the bill’s wording vague and federal funding on the line, schools could opt to require genital exams for all female athletes to prove they aren’t transgender.

With the bill’s wording vague and federal funding on the line, schools could opt to require genital exams for all female athletes to prove they aren’t transgender.

This Person Claims In The Last 30 Years “We Haven’t Moved The Needle On Student Achievement.” Well…

Funny to think that based on the research that Kris Nordstrom posts about here that there is a distinctive timeline that Catherine Truitt seems to ignore.

In a debate last week Truitt claimed that in the last 30 years “we haven’t moved the needle on student achievement.”

Let’s look at the last 30 years.

That would be 1990-2020.

What that research Nordstrom posted says is that in the years between 1990 and the early 2000’s we had growth in student achievement correlating strongly with more funding.

Bush was “elected” in 2000.

He pushed through No Child Left Behind in 2001. It began to really take effect in subsequent years.

The early 2000’s.

Then we had a recession that badly damaged funding.

The GOP took over in the NC General Assembly in the early 2010’s.

Pat McCrory was elected in 2012 and rubber-stamped the wishes of the NCGA.

Interesting that Truitt worked as an advisor to McCrory and as an assistant to Margaret Spellings, one of the architects of No Child Left Behind.

Maybe she should have said that we haven’t moved the needle in the last decade.

When we really haven’t been increasing funding for public schools.

Seven Truths About Teachers & This Pandemic That Are Intentionally Ignored

This one billboard says a lot about our current state of polarization.

Dan Forest - Service public - 4 504 photos | Facebook

And it communicates some very

  1. Schools are not closed.

School buildings are closed and campuses shut down for convening physical classes.

But “school” is going on.

2. Teachers do not want to always stay in Plan C.

Teachers want school buildings open. They want to see students as much as parents want to send them to school campuses.

They just want them to be safely opened.

This push to go straight to Plan A when schools are not even outfitted for safety with minimal amounts of PPE and other resources for various versions of Plan B.

To equate that teachers wanting schools opened safely and with plans that include teacher and site administrator input with “teachers don’t want schools opened” is erroneous.

3. A higher percentage of teachers are also parents than parents are teachers in public schools.

More teachers can empathize with what many parents are experiencing during the pandemic as far as remote instruction is concerned than the converse. When teachers speak about opening school buildings, MANY of them are speaking as parents as well.

4. If this state is going to push STEM related subjects, it would help if the lawmakers and policy makers who craft the testing mandates and curriculum standards actually believe and listen to science.

Talking to you Dan Forest.

And those people who keep having the CDC change its protocols and information.

5. A hybrid plan (B) many times creates much more work for teachers.

This is especially true if teachers are to give both in-class students and students in remote situations synchronous learning. Think of it as teaching the same numbers of classes virtually as you would in-person.

Without more time and energy and support to do so.

6. To say that learning has not occurred is ludicrous.

Some brilliant teaching has been going on these past few weeks (and last spring). But if someone wants to argue about “measuring” that learning with standardized tests, then they would need to convince a lot of people that those tests were actually accurately measuring student learning when there was no pandemic.

7. This situation is being exacerbated by the fact that it is a BIG ELECTION YEAR.

Public schools and education have always been a hot-button political topic. So has COVID-19.

Just put them together.

Dan Forest has. And he doesn’t even send his school aged-kids to actual schools when there is not a pandemic.

For Once I Agree With Catherine Truitt, But She Said Something In August 2019…

Yesterday both Jen Mangrum and Catherine Truitt provided insights to the editorial board of the News & Observer during an interview for each.

Below are two tweets from the education reporter for the N&O.

She threw Mark Johnson under the bus. Said he was not the person for the job.

She also was the person who stood on stage with Phil Berger last week to call for reopening schools fully. Phil Berger made sure that Mark Johnson was the most powerful state superintendent ever in NC’s history.

Catherine Truitt is aligning herself with Phil Berger. Either she needs to call Johnson a political puppet and the position he fulfilled one that was for Berger to exploit or…

Catherine Truitt needs to show how she would not be controlled by Berger.

And then she can comment on this:

She said nothing about Johnson’s capabilities back then. In fact, she was going to stay out of his way if he was to seek re-election.

Seems a little contradictory.

In that same EdNC.org report this was said by Truitt:

Truitt said that her work in classrooms, on education policy, at the UNC System, and now at WGU have given her experiences that would translate well to the role of state superintendent. 

“I think that these experiences and institutional knowledge, along with my relationships at the legislature and with the State Board, position me uniquely,” she said. 

But a couple of weeks ago she said,

image-33

Interesting.

Dear Local School Boards, How Are Your Schools’ Ventilation Systems?

Lost in the sadistic irony of Phil Berger, Dan Forest, and Catherine Truitt’s “argument” to fully open schools this fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is that there has been talk of placing a bond referendum on the ballot in 2020 for school construction.

In fact, it really has been Tim Moore who has given more vocal energy to this idea. From the N&O a couple of Decembers ago:

“Education is what matters most to families and businesses — to the private and public sectors alike — and North Carolina is poised to build on historic commitments to our schools with another long-term investment in capital construction for our rapidly growing student population,” Moore said in a press release.

The rich irony of Moore’s initial statement above deserves its own book, but it acknowledges something brought out by Gov. Cooper’s spokesperson later in the report.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper previously proposed a similar education bond and also supports this push, spokesman Ford Porter said Thursday.

A school bond could relieve crowded, aging schools and ensure students across North Carolina get a quality education and opportunities to succeed,” Porter said in an email.

Aging buildings. Overcrowded schools.

Berger, Truitt, and Forest want to send all students back into those same aging buildings and overcrowded schools.

Have you ever walked through a school and wondered if every room had a window(s) that could help circulate fresh air when needed? I have taught in rooms that had no windows at all. Some classrooms I have taught in had only one which makes hard to circulate air.

(And it’s about to get cooler outside. Flu season is also approaching.)

Then walk through a school and just check the HVAC system and its ventilation patterns. As a teacher, I have never had the power to control the thermostat or the fan settings of my classroom. I’ve had to call in a request for an alteration to be performed at a central location.

And I am not sure if it is fresh air that is coming through my vents when the system does turn on in my room.

Or if it filtered well.

Nothing Screams “Don’t Want Teacher Input” More Than A BOE Meeting During The School Day

Union County has a school board meeting today. AN OPEN SESSION.

Notice the time the meeting was called for: 10:30.

That should be about 2nd period in my school. For some elementary or middle schoolers in a crowded school, that could be nearing first lunch.

Certainly teachers would be working.at that time.

It is a school day.

Onslow County had one yesterday. For ACTION, DISCUSSION, and INFORMATION.

At 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

There they voted on a schedule to put kids back in schools.

Of course, no teachers could be there.

They were teaching.

So why have these meetings in the middle of a school day? Could it be to make sure that teachers could not offer comments or give input?

Probably.

Name The Only State “Agency” To Not Get Longevity Pay, Graduate Degree Pay, Or A $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Teachers in North Carolina are among the only state employees who do not receive longevity pay.

And bills to reinstate it have been introduced and crushed in committee – by the same people who took longevity pay away in the first place.

Classified public school employees are among some of the only state employees to not make a $15/hour minimum wage.

From a 2018 N&O report:

And teachers are among some of the only state employees who are paid on a set salary schedule that does not carry a “minimum” and “maximum” pay range for experience and market viability.

From a recent salary plan report for NC:

What are CRR, JMR, and ARR? Well there is a “dictionary of career-banding terms.

Oh, and there’s the MMR:

But those things do not apply to teachers. There really is no market for teachers outside of public schools that is sizable enough to compare, so the state gets to treat teachers differently. And they have.

When the market looks at advanced degrees and training as worthy of pay raises or increases in compensation, then the state would have to look at how it can “recuit” and “retain.”

But in the case of teachers, they took away graduate degree pay bumps.

To go along with no more longevity pay.

And that $15/hour minimum wage for classified school employees.

Imagine what that does for recruitment and retention.