Simply put, it’s hard to build bridges in this state with those who are making the very divides that separate us.
Before the 2008 Great Recession took hold of the country, North Carolina had what was considered one of the more progressive public school systems 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
- 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.