When I see a bill such as this which quickly brings people into public schools as classroom teachers, then it makes me think why this state needs to do this.
Yes. There is a shortage of people to fill positions in schools. There is a shortage of teacher candidates. No secret here.
But the pandemic did not cause this; the North Carolina General Assembly did with actions like these over the last ten years:
- Manipulated Narrative on Teacher Pay
- Removal of due-process rights for new teachers
- Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed
- Push for Merit Pay
- “Average” Raises
- Health Insurance and Benefits Changes
- Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE)
- Revolving Door of Standardized Tests
- Less Money Spent per Pupil When Adjusted For Inflation
- Removal of Caps on Class Sizes
- Sacrificing of Specialties in Elementary Schools
- Jeb Bush School Grading System
- Cutting Teacher Assistants
- Opportunity Grants
- Unregulated Charter School Growth
- For-Profit Virtual Charter Schools
- Innovative School District
- Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program And Now Its Smaller Version
And along the way, the North Carolina General Assembly eroded maybe the one thing that helps to recruit and retain career teachers: respect for the profession.
To have respect is to have a deep feeling of admiration for someone because of his abilities, qualities, and value. It is understanding that someone is important and should be taken seriously.
In place of respect, the NCGA has tried to convince the public that “rewards” are more valuable.
But they aren’t.
- A reward sounds like something that can be used as a political ploy. Respect needs no political prompt.
- A reward could be a one-time gift. Respect is continuous and grows.
- A reward is a reaction to something. Respect guides your actions.
- A reward is giving teachers a small bonus that gets taxed by the state and has no effect on retirement. Respect would be to bring salaries for teachers at least to the national average.
- A reward would be to give a school some sort of distinction because it met a measurement achievement. Respect would be honoring teachers because of actual student growth in the face of factors out of the schools’ control.
- A reward would be providing more textbooks. Respect would be to keep growing per-pupil expenditures to ensure that all students got the resources they need.
- A reward would be giving a one-time pay hike to teachers. Respect would be to make sure they kept getting raises throughout their careers on a fair salary schedule and restoring longevity pay.
- A reward may be speaking highly of principals. Respect would be not ever allowing our average principal salary to rank next to last in the nation.
- A reward may be to alter the teacher evaluation system. Respect would be to restore due-process rights for all teachers.
- A reward may be to give more professional development for teachers. Respect would be restoring pay bumps for graduate degrees.
We have seen what a lack of respect for teachers has done to our state in a short amount of time. Where we once were considered a flagship state system, we are now in a state of regression. So while I will not decline a “reward” of a sustained pay raise, I will tell my lawmakers that affording more respect to teachers, administrators, and teacher assistants could go a long in helping stop the attrition of teaching talent in North Carolina.
Why? Because if you respect something you will show it through your actions, not just through campaign speeches and vague promises.