Dear Mrs. Truitt,
It is not a secret that I didn’t vote for you. In fact, I actively campaigned for the other candidate.
You were the senior education advisor to a governor who championed policies that I believe did more harm in NC than good. You stood on stage with candidates for other offices who wanted to expand vouchers. You were financially backed by people who control the EVAAS system, for-profit charter schools, and other privatization efforts. You have run an online college campus that received money from the NC General Assembly to get started in our state which is in direct competition with public colleges and universities. And you have criticized teachers who have actively advocated for student well-being.
But you were elected. I can’t change that.
Presumably, you will be in office for four years; I will still be in the classroom and loudly advocating for public schools.
It will be hard for you to do any worse than the puppet whose office you will take over. Actually, I would say that about anyone who follows Mark Johnson.
As I write this, this country is about to have a new president with a new Secretary of Education to be named. Betsy DeVos and her disastrous pharisaical influence will be out of office. Her stances on not waiving tests this year and funneling more monies to charters and vouchers will be replaced by someone whose wife was a public school English teacher – like you were. Like I am now.
So, I want to ask some questions. Not rhetorical ones, but questions that will require answers offered through prolonged action.
What will you be doing to elevate the teaching profession here in North Carolina? That’s not really that broad of a question considering that with the combination of the pandemic’s effects and prolonged political pressure, we as a state are about to see one hell of a teacher shortage. The numbers of teachers retiring early or seeking new careers are frightening if only a quarter of the rumors I hear have any truth.
And before you offer up new teacher prep programs like the ones the Western Governors University offers, you might need to do a better job of showing first what you would do with existing, proven avenues of teacher prep in our colleges and universities like the one you were at when you worked for Margret Spellings who was an architect of No Child Left Behind.
Are you going to fight for more money and resources for our public schools for not only instructional needs but for other needs like nurses, social workers, and counselors? What are you willing to do to combat what will very likely be budget cuts because of the pandemic and because of the people who control the NCGA?
How well are you going to work with the State Board of Education? Mark Johnson carried on a rather contentious relationship with the BOE. And will you speak out against the new Lt. Governor when he makes claims about how there is no systemic racism and that people who identify as gay are less than human?
What will you do to raise morale in the Department of Public Instruction? Johnson decimated it. Berger had him reorganize it. It seems to be an intentional shadow of what it used to be.
Are you going to continue to not engage with NCAE? It’s growing. Yes, it’s growing. In a state that bans public sector collective bargaining, that is a Right to Work state, that is an At Will state, and that took away graduate degree pay and due-process rights from new teachers, it seems odd that so many in Raleigh and elsewhere spend so much time and money worrying about NCAE and at the same time publicly dismiss NCAE’s influence.
But I think the most important question I have is who are you really going to listen to concerning issues about public education? Your donors? Business leaders who belong to education reform groups? Berger and Moore? Charter School groups? PEFNC? SAS? Think Tanks? ALEC? Or maybe, just maybe…teachers?
Yes, I know that you are to serve all people in your new capacity, but as a teacher, I did not see you totally engage with teachers during your campaign. In fact, you seemed to shy away from them. Your job is about to become enmeshed with public education and that does not work without engaging teachers.
Because they will engage you.