And that’s good. But they could have done it earlier.
What’s even more egregious is that no lawmakers within Berger’s own political party have never raised voices in the public ear for the sake of public schools.
In the past ten years, Sen. Phil Berger has spearheaded as many attacks against public schools and the people who work in them as any lawmaker in the country.
1. Teacher PayKeptWell Below National Average
2. Removal of Due-Process Rights
3. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed
4. Retiree Health Benefits Removed For New Teachers
5. Push for Merit Pay and Bonus Pay
6. Removal of Longevity Pay
7. Health Insurance and Benefits
8. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE)
9. Reorganization and a Weakening of the Department of Public Instruction
10. Less Money Spent per PupilWhen Adjusted For Inflation
11. Remove Caps on Class Sizes
12. School Grading System
13. Cutting Teacher Assistants
14. Read to Achieve
15. Educational Savings Accounts
16. Opportunity Grants
17. Charter Schools
18. Innovative School Districts
19. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges
20. Elimination & Reinventing of Teaching Fellows Program
21. Frozen Salaries For Years 15-24
22. Ignorance of LEANDRO Decision
23. Budget Taking Three Years To Pass
Can’t remember when a lawmaker in the NC GOP publicly spoke against what Phil Berger has done to public education in North Carolina. And despite what they may claim in private, when they had a chance to publicly tell North Carolinians that they would work for public schools, they did not go against Senator Phil Berger.
The NC Senate passed HB 924 by an overwhelming majority. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in one of his rare statements about actual public education other than bathrooms and his love for charter schools tweeted the following:
Fast forward three years and the man sitting in the same office as Lt. Gov. and member of the State Board of Education…
This week’s episode of Mountain Philosopher further explores the faulty licensure / teacher pay proposal by DPI and the Human Capital Roundtable. John deVille interviews Justin Parmenter, whose work in digging through communications by all parties has exposed what has become another stain in the attack against public school teachers.
Earlier in the day deVille released this graphic highlighting the role that PR Firm Eckel & Vaughan have played in helping to market this merit pay scheme for teachers.
Not ironically, they also were hired to help lobby the FDA to not ban the use of menthol in cigarettes marketed specifically to the African American community.
Parmenter released a communication chain on his Twitter account (@JustinParmenter) today that also highlighted Eckel & Vaughan (EV).
It seems odd on the surface that DPI would need a public relations firm to sell a surreptitiously crafted merit pay scheme and licensure plan to both the NC General Assembly and a state that has about 100,000 classroom teacher positions.
But then again, maybe not. The relationship that State Superintendent Catherine Truitt has decided to have with teachers in this state is a one-sided toxic relationship where she takes and never gives. Her loyalties lie with the powers that be in the NCGA and with her top donors and enablers.
If you look into Parmenter’s thread there is reference to NCAE, the largest teacher advocacy organization in the state.
Never has Truitt even engaged in talking with NCAE or seeking input from them. In fact, Truitt does not seek input from teachers in a substantial manner. Questionnaires with prepared answers and no room for giving thoughts and rehearsed “discussions” in select venues are the extent of her engagement.
What a veteran teacher received ten years ago compared to what a veteran teacher who would start a career in NC today is quite startling.
Not only is there a significant loss in projected income but ramifications on being able to get health care after retirement and not having to fear reprisal in standing up for students and schools in advocating.
Specifically there are four distinct actions taken to keep teachers in NC’s public schools from retiring as teachers in public schools.
Removal of due-process rights. At one time the NC General Assembly took away due-process rights for all teachers. It was ruled unconstitutional by the court system in the case for those veteran teachers who already got those rights when they became fully certified. However, newer teachers in the profession will not get due-process rights in North Carolina. That will surely inhibit those teachers from advocating loudly for schools in the future for fear of reprisal.
Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed – Because advanced degree pay is abolished, many potential teachers will never enter the field because that is the only way to receive a sizable salary increase to help raise a family or afford to stay in the profession. It also cripples graduate programs in the state university system because obtaining a graduate degree for new teachers would place not only more debt on teachers, but there is no monetary reward to actually getting it.
Longevity Pay – In the long session of 2014, the NC General Assembly raised salaries for teachers in certain experience brackets that allowed them to say that an “average” salary for teachers was increased by over 7%. They called it a “historic raise.” However, if you divided the amount of money used in these “historic” raises by the number of teachers who “received” them, it would probably amount to about $270 per teacher.That historic raise was funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Similar to an annual bonus, this is something that all state employees in North Carolina — except, now, for teachers — gain as a reward for continued service. The budget rolled that money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise. That’s like me stealing money out of your wallet and then presenting it to you as a gift.
Retiree Health Benefits – If you are hired as a new teacher after 2020 is over, you will not have something that teachers hired before 2021 have: retiree health benefits. A 2020 report in the News & Observer explains that the budget set forth in 2017’s long session of the NCGA did away with retiree health benefits for hires on and after January 1, 2021 to “save money.”
No wonder NC has a teacher shortage and a teacher candidate shortage.
Unlike most parents of students, citizens who graduated decades ago, or taxpayers who never sent their children to public schools, the people who have gotten the most intimate view of how public school teachers in North Carolina have been really been (dis)respected by lawmakers are those students who matriculated in classrooms since 2010.
Especially any student who ever had an inkling that teaching might be the profession that he or she might want to pursue.
If any person feels the stress of having to see beloved teachers leave the classroom because lack of a competitive salary or professional respect, it is a student who is in our public school classroom right now.
This state is teaching our students from a very young age that being a teacher in North Carolina’s public schools is not a worthy calling to pursue despite what propagandized message lawmakers want to send.
Ask students how many of their teachers did not return to their schools the following year.
Ask students if they had more then one teacher for a single subject in a school year or a long-term sub.
Ask students if they ever felt like they were measured by a single test score and that their futures relied on that test score.
Ask students if they feel like a lack of support structures in their schools hurt their ability to learn.
Ask students if they felt like their classes were too big and didn’t have enough materials.
Ask students if they think being a teacher in a North Carolina public school pays enough.
Ask students if they think that being a teacher in a North Carolina public school offered respect.
Ask students if they have watched a school board meeting this past year.
Ask students if they ever wanted to be a teacher but saw how their teachers were treated and changed their minds.
This state says it is recruiting teachers and wanting to retain them.
In actuality, they have been discouraging public school students from becoming teachers for years.
The text for the second addition is not long. Actually, it’s very straightforward.
Simply put, the bill will make the leader of the Department of Public Instruction also be the chair of the State Board of Education.
If this constitutional admendment passes in November, then it would bring to fruition a six year plan for an ultraconservative, privatizing segment of lawmakers to fully take over public education in North Carolina.
Look at this timeline.
What that did was to replace the check and balance that the State Board provided against DPI with no check and balance. Now imagine when both the State Board and DPI are led by the same person who blatantly cowtows to the wishes of one Phil Berger, Tim Moore, and the powers in the NCGA.
The other part of HB1173 is “All non-ex officio members of the State Board of Education will be elected to four-year terms from the State Congressional Districts.”
State Board members already come different regions in the state that they represent.
Now look at that time line above again, specifically 2016. This state is embroiled in trying to lawfully reset congressional district lines and keep them from being unlawfully gerrymandered. This NCGAS is not good at that. In fact, they have been stopped in court at trying to draw lines based on racial makeup of districts.
This state has more registered democrats than republicans but the way that the maps are currently drawn skew heavily toward the party with fewer registered voters.
What HB1173 would do is allow for the State Board of Education to have its ex-officio members be elected with gerrymandered congressional maps and then serve on a board that caters specifically to the people who drew those gerrymandered maps in the first place. That board would then be controlled by a person who controls DPI and is loyal to those same gerrymandering people.
It doesn’t end there. Look who the primary spnsors of the bill are.
Specifically the names of John Torbett and Hugh Blackwell
Funny that the same governing body that is moving this bill through the current session also had a committee put together to “reimagine” what public education in NC should be in response to the LEANDRO decision that so many in Raleigh refuse to acknowledge. Like Berger. Like Tim Moore. Like Catherine Truitt.
Look who the chairs of the committee are.
It’s part of a powergrab. Pure and simple.
That constitutional amendment should be struck down in November.