The State Superintendent’s War On Another CRT

The shallow attack on public schools concerning the mythical teaching of Critical Race Theory has been well documented. Even though the theory itself is not taught in North Carolina schools, “CRT” has become so broadly “defined” that it has come to mean so much more than a legal theory taught in the last year of law school.

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt sure has embraced that ever-evolving definition of a concept not taught in public schools and made it an umbrella term for anything she deems as exposing the fact that racism still is very much present our society.

Last June she offered these insights to political cohorts on her definition of CRT.

“It’s the idea that every aspect of American society is racist. That racism permeates every aspect of our society, even though we have laws that we have passed and enacted on the books that are moving us towards a more perfect union. Okay. That is what critical race theory is. Critical race theory proponents also believe that because those laws were in place in 1783, that they can never really be amended, and therefore our nation will always be flawed. And that, my friends, goes against my core belief as a Christian.”

But that CRT is not the only “CRT” she is waging a battle against.

There is also a battle against Critical, Real Thinking.

And that “CRT” is actually being taught in our schools.

Just a week ago, Truitt made this statement:

“We’ve got to redefine what the purpose of K-12 education is. Some would say it’s to produce critical thinkers. But my team and I believe that the purpose of a public K-12 education is to prepare students for post-secondary plans of their choice so that they can be a functioning member of the workforce.”

– STATE SUPERINTENDENT CATHERINE TRUITT, JANUARY 6TH, 2022

In that same presentation, she actually named 2022 “The Year of the Workforce.”

From EdNC.com on January 7th:

Interestingly enough, Alex Granados mentioned in the same EdNC article that “critical thinking” was highly desired by potential employers.

But according to a study on employer views from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 95% of employers view critical thinking specifically as “very important” or “somewhat important.”

“Critical thinking and analysis, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication through writing and speaking have consistently been ranked highest over time,” the study said in reference to employer surveys.

That very study offers this data graph:

The war on this “CRT” is rather ironic considering that Truitt has been championing the “science of reading” in our schools – especially elementary schools. Last May she stated,

“We are hard-wired to learn how to speak. We are not hard-wired to learn how to read,” Truitt said. “Various places in the brain have to be firing and working at the same time in order for reading to take place. It’s not a visual activity; it’s a language activity.”

Interesting that Truitt wants students to be able to critically read. Yet, critical thinking would be the ability to evaluate any information and ideas presented in that reading.

It’s almost like she wants students to be able to read but not think about what they read and even pass any judgement on the material.

We Can’t “Bonus” Our Way Out Of This Pandemic

Remember that teachers no longer receive longevity pay like other state employees. Remember that bonuses are not salary increases. They are usually one-time or two-time payments. Also remember that bonuses get “withheld” at higher rates and that none of it can go toward retirement.

Image result for bonus pay stock

And there are two more distinct things that you need to know about these bonuses that actually show the deflated reality of this “reward” to teachers.

First, they are not recurring. Yes, they are nice. Yes, educators need the money. But bonuses are not something any educator can always rely on and set a personal budget around.

Secondly, the money for raises is already there. This state has been sitting on incredible surpluses. The argument that those powers that be is that if we tax corporations less, then workers will get more wages and if we lower taxes, citizens will keep more in their pockets.

That means entities such as public schools suffer because the extra $100 a year you might save on taxes as a person to buy a few meals at Chic-Fil-A in those twelve months affects the ability of public schools to adequately serve the entire community. It also means that there is the assumption corporations will automatically pass their savings on to its workers in the form of raises.

That is the political narrative that has to be obeyed.

But the reality is that we are losing teachers. We do not have enough teacher candidates. Schools are at a breaking point. There are not enough resources. Actually, there are not enough educators and support staff now. There were not before the pandemic.

Bonuses will not keep teachers in the classrooms.

Investing in public education on a recurring basis can.

And we can start with LEANDRO.

An Open Letter In Support Of Our School System Superintendent

Open Letter - Yale Daily News

News that there was a $16 million mistake in budgeting for raises in local supplements came as a shock. Overstating how much money was actually available for announced and approved raises by that amount is an egregious mistake. The timing, the context, and the environment of our school system made the situation that much more deflating. Naturally anger and frustration arise.

Mistakes such as this mathematical blunder would certainly cost people their job. WSFCS is one of the largest employers in the county and this school system is the 5th largest in the state. That monetary mistake affects a few thousand people.

It might be easy to put blame on the office of the superintendent for this situation. You can dissect the letter or the words of the voice message and question many things: How long had they known about the mistake? What were the checks and balances in place and why did they not work? Why do we not know exactly what happened in the restructuring of the Finance department?

Answers to those questions and others not yet asked will come – maybe during the Tuesday school board meeting.

But any mention that our superintendent should resign or be fired for this mistake should not be acted upon. This teacher supports her being in that office.

Can you think of a more difficult time to become the superintendent of a large school system than these last 18 months? In this state? Under the circumstances in which the office had become vacant? In the past three years, that office has had four different people serving as super (remember we had an interim after one resignation).

To come in and replace every person in every position in Central Office after every new superintendent took control is unrealistic. To do it during these last 18 months while dealing with the pandemic is fantasy.

What this superintendent has done is consistently listen to teachers and take time to communicate with as many stakeholders in the public school system as possible. Openly and in personal conversations shared with me, I have only known of her to be positive and put the students first.

This is a situation that could be remedied. The school board, the county commissioners, Central Office can come together and find a resolution. The superintendent can make sure that can happen.

We need continuity. We need a leader willing to learn from mistakes even if she is not the person who made them. We need someone who is student and teacher- centered.

We are still in unprecedented times as far as public schools are concerned.

I support this superintendent.

From #JustAsk To A 16 Million Dollar Mistake – Of Course Teachers Are Angry

And they should be angry.

Remember that in September 2018 a video come to light concerning a May 2018 in which then superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory presented the school system budget request to the county Board of Commissioners and the issue of teacher supplements was brought up.

That original nine-minute video can be seen here:  https://youtu.be/M8HZuerdTE0.

In September of 2018, the Winston-Salem Journal ran a report about that video along with news of a video response by the superintendent to try and explain what actually may have happened.

After a video of a meeting between Superintendent Beverly Emory and the Forsyth County commissioners circulated on social media over the weekend, several educators expressed concern that the school district isn’t being aggressive enough in asking for more money for teachers supplements.

WS/FCS is one of the largest public school districts in North Carolina, but ranks 26th in supplements, according to data on the Department of Public Instruction’s website. With a budget vote expected at Tuesday’s school-board meeting, that gap is likely to be one of the most talked-about issues.

On Sunday, several postings of the video from the commissioners’ May 10 meeting included the hashtag #JustAsk, imploring the superintendent and school board to ask the county for money for supplements.

The video, running a little more than nine minutes, features comments from commissioners Everette Witherspoon and Don Martin, himself a former Forsyth superintendent.“I hope that the school board actually asks for more money to deal with the teacher-supplement issue because we are behind,” Witherspoon says in the video.“We’re not going to be asking you about it; you need to do the asking of us with a proposal or an idea or whatever,” Martin says.

Emory responded Tuesday with her own video, saying work has been ongoing behind the scenes between her, other district staff and the school board to find ways to improve the teacher-supplement formula and find a sustainable source of revenue for ongoing supplement improvements (https://www.journalnow.com/news/local/justask-to-justaskme-conversations-around-teacher-supplements-in-winston-salem/article_2c977317-f782-5edf-90a8-83ebaba4c8aa.html). 

Fast forward a little over three years, two more superintendents, a global pandemic, an extended budget approval process by the state, more gerrymandered districts, and unfounded attacks on the teaching profession and we in our district finally receive news that local supplements will increase significantly. It might have kept teachers from leaving the district or even the profession altogether.

Yes, local supplements mean that much.

And then this:

That specific report in the Winston-Salem Journal stated,

Superintendent Tricia McManus said in a message to the district’s certified staff on Thursday night said that because of the calculation error, the amount the school board had approved was roughly $16 million dollars more than what had been budgeted for local increases.

This teacher got that message on Thursday night at the dinner table using the speaker phone as my family was finishing our meal. In all honesty, I thought it was to announce a possible delay with the temperatures below freezing and chance of precipitation.

That message was a gut punch. Teachers have every right to be angry.

For MANY reasons.

First, the timing. It is the new year. It was the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol. It only reminded me and others of the division in our country, but it reiterated how much public schools and teachers have been thrown into the middle of that “fight for the soul of our country.”

Secondly, there was a validated expectation that the local supplement was official and ready to be instituted. The school board had already voted and approved it. The numbers were published. Teachers and the their families were already budgeting that increase for various expenses.

Next, it seems to be yet another way that teachers and public school educators have been victimized by neglect. This North Carolina General Assembly has not been kind to teachers for over 10 years. This state has a teacher shortage, a teacher candidate shortage, a rise in early retirements, and ever increasing expectations placed on public schools to fulfill duties with less resources.

This state is at a precipice when it comes to public education. If you think this year seems to be rough as far as teacher retention is concerned, next year will be worse.

Lastly, there is that trust issue. It was eroding before this bit of news. That process just got “ramped” up many times over.

Local supplements are not one-time bonuses. It is part of the salary for teachers. Bonuses are non-recurring and are taxed as gifts. Raises in local supplements are recurring and effect retirement. The news we received about a clerical error did not just affect this year, but all years if not remedied.

If there is one thing that teachers have shown and somehow extended in abundance throughout the last two years, it is grace. Adapting to what this pandemic has done to schools and the effects on our students and families has been one of the most taxing experiences (physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually) any teacher could never have imagined going through.

Hard to keep extending grace in situations like this.

If the last two years have shown our country anything, it is that schools are about so much more than academics. They are a fabric that holds communities together. But schools and the people who make them work must have foundational supports from officials in Central Office, local politicians, and school boards

When those supports become unstable or are not carefully maintained, then we all suffer for it.

This system already has too many vacancies.

I sincerely hope that this school board and our school system officials can restore at least some of the trust that was lost this past week.

A Little Soma Made in 1984 Cooked At F451 Degrees For You? Why Every Teacher Should Be Insulted By State Superintendent Truitt’s Words

“Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”

Fahrenheit 451

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which [leaders] control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

– Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World

The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face.”

1984

“We’ve got to redefine what the purpose of K-12 education is. Some would say it’s to produce critical thinkers. But my team and I believe that the purpose of a public K-12 education is to prepare students for post-secondary plans of their choice so that they can be a functioning member of the workforce.”

– State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, January 6th, 2022

That last statement is a hell of a statement from the top ranking official for public education in the state – especially that part about free thinking.

In her short tenure as state super, Truitt has said many things to insult teachers, demean advocacy for public schools, and belittle the profession.

This is the most insulting – not just because as a teacher my job is to help students become critical thinkers, but as a parent of young lady who has graduated from public schools and a son about to enter high school, I don’t want the person who makes the biggest decisions about our schools to think of my children (and others’ children) as “functional members of the workforce.”

It’s almost like saying that our job as public school teachers is to create good workers for those who can profit from them.

So what is the job of private education? Truitt seems very supportive of using public money to fund private school vouchers.

And does everybody on Truitt’s team really believe in her statement (especially all of those former educators)? Freebird McKinney? Julie Pittman? Former Principal of the Year Tabari Wallace?

What Truitt said is even more egregious as she herself is a former high school English teacher who surely taught students through the use of novels. In fact she reminded each educator in the state of that last week when she sent a blanket New Year’s Day email to all of us.

Makes one wonder if she ever used 1984, Fahrenheit 451, or even Brave New World as a text in one of her classes. They are commonly used. And by what she just stated, its seems they need to be more extensively taught in schools.

Because Truitt is literally showing how fiction offers strong insights on reality.

That is if you critically think about it.

27 Attacks On North Carolina Public Education

In the last decade, North Carolina’s public school system has been surgically weakened by our state government. Here are a few of the actions taken.

1. Teacher Pay Kept Well 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. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests 

10. Reorganization and a Weakening of the Department of Public Instruction 

11. Less Money Spent per Pupil When Adjusted For Inflation

12. Remove Caps on Class Sizes 

13. Amorphous Measures Like “Graduation Rates”

14. School Grading System 

15. Cutting Teacher Assistants 

16. Read to Achieve 

17. Educational Savings Accounts 

18. Opportunity Grants 

19. Charter Schools 

20. Virtual Charter Schools 

21. Innovative School Districts 

22. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges 

23. Elimination & Reinventing of Teaching Fellows Program 

24. Frozen Salaries For Years 15-24

25. Ignorance of LEANDRO Decision

26. Bad Safety Protocols During Pandemic

27. Budget Taking Three Years To Pass

17 Billion Uninvested & He Wants To Raise The Retirement Age?

Imagine if the key goal on your performance report at work was this: “try hard.”

Yes, you read that right. Not accomplish anything in particular, just try. It seems outlandish, doesn’t it?

Yet this is the standard for Dale Folwell, the State Treasurer – and a former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board Member. Folwell invests the roughly $118 billion pension fund for educators, civil servants, and first responders, and his most basic accountability is not for any outcome, just that he “try” to do well.

It’s a standard he’s failing by intentionally leaving at least $17 billion uninvested. He’s not even trying to earn a meaningful return on this money. Instead, he keeps lowering the bar for his own performance, most recently reducing the return objective from 7 percent to 6.5 percent.

Toward the very end of an August 25th, 2021 meeting of his Investment Advisory Committee, Folwell admitted how he expects the state to make up the money that he hasn’t earned. His thoughts are about raising the retirement age for educators, civil servants, and first responders, as well as demanding more from the state budget every year. This approach almost guarantees that  local governments will have to increase local taxes. Simply look up the recording of the August Investment Advisory Committee. It is a little over two hours long,

Remember that Folwell is aligned with political powers in Raleigh who are not only sitting on billions in surplus money, but are pushing to abolish corporate taxes. To suggest that getting more money from local governments while lowering what corporations would pay in taxes is literally telling each citizen in North Carolina who most likely is a non-pension member that he will be paying more taxes. 

For anyone who struggles to imagine an NC GOP stalwart with a spending appetite, Folwell put part of this in writing within a technical report earlier this year. He told state and local governments to expect a $500 million bill every year starting in 2022-23 to cover his decision to lower the bar for investment performance. 

Raising the retirement age on state employees like me, a Forsyth County educator, is another form of tax increase, one in which we have to work longer and contribute more out of our own paychecks to earn the same monthly benefit. And, again, it’s for no reason – Folwell is neglecting his end of the deal.

But why?

Angie Scioli, a retired Wake County educator, put that question to Folwell during the public comment section of that same August meeting (at about 1:38:06). The state treasurer benefits from the service of professional, nonpolitical investment staff, and she asked whether these experts had recommended that he pull all of this money out of the market. Folwell gave her no direct answer.

Scioli did not stop there, though. Folwell’s first priority investing my pension – and that of roughly a million additional North Carolinians – is saving money on fees paid to external money managers. Scioli’s last question in her remarks was how much of his total fee savings comes from not investing our retirement savings, as opposed to getting a better deal on investments.

This question should have an easy answer: zero. No fees are required on no investments, but no investment return is no good. That return is what finances the pension for our educators, civil servants, and first responders. Giving away a competitive investment return to just save fees ought to embarrass any fiscal conservative.

Again, Folwell offered no direct response.

He actually did not answer any of Scioli’s questions. And he did not offer any other reason why he’s not even “trying hard” to earn a return on $17 billion of our retirement savings. Few people could be given the goal merely of “trying hard” and still fail. Folwell apparently is one of them.

Educators like me don’t have (and don’t want) that luxury. We are accountable to the schoolchildren of North Carolina every day for their futures. It is an accountability that we take that seriously and, in return, we don’t ask to get rich. More than anything, we ask that our leaders support us fully.

Raising our retirement age for nothing is the very opposite. Folwell can either make things right now, get our money back into the market, and perform, or he can learn the hard way how much fight we have in us.

The Top 10 Educational Issues From 2021 That Need Our Attention in 2022

Like every other year, 2021 has been a rather contentious, perplexing, and frustrating year for public school advocates. There is simply a lot working against us.

However, that only means that we keep fighting for public schools. As the new year arrives, it might be worthwhile to review the top ten public education issues that surround North Carolina’s public school system.

And they are not listed in any particular order as all of them have an incredible amount of gravity.

1. LEANDRO And the NCGA’s Willful Ignorance In Funding

Imagine being a teacher who gave a required assignment to a student for a class that had to be taken in order to graduate based on criteria set by governing bodies. The student specifically chose to be in your section and even lobbied parents and administration to be in that class promising to do everything required to pass the class and do the work to the best of his/her ability.

The assignment is clearly laid out, expectations articulated, rubrics provided, modeling given, and multiple tutoring opportunities afforded.

The assignment is not a newly developed one. It has been required of every class that this teacher has taught since that teacher’s career started. In fact, it is stipulated by the school system – even the state.

Yet the student has not turned it in. Not even a part of it.

In fact, the student is literally bragging to other students and even adults that he will not do it, but rather create his own “assignment” and will grade it as he sees fit and turn it in when he wants to – if ever.

And there will be no penalties, late grades, or disciplanary actions. His parents have threatened the school system that if the student receives a failing grade or an incomplete – actually anything below a top grade – then they will sue and publicize how badly their child has been treated by the public school system. They will also go after the teacher’s certificate and even the school’s accreditation.

Not surprisingly, assignment was actually given years ago.

Now imagine the student being the powers that be in the North Carolina General Assembly and the assignment is a state budget that fully funds the public school system.

Here’s the assignment:

Here’s the rubric:

2. Treatment of Veteran Teachers

Here is the salary schedule that was in place for the last school year and was in place at the beginning of this one:

For those who are not teachers, make sure to pay attention to years 15-24.

Frozen.

10 years of the same.

There is no longevity pay during these years as well.

Someone who has been teaching for 24 years makes the same as someone who has been teaching for 15.

Amounts toward retirement will be the same.

3. New Budget

It only took three years, but did we not just pass a new budget with raises?

Not much of a raise.

AND TEN FROZEN YEARS.

If anyone in Raleigh cares to explain how those 10 frozen years of pay is supposed to attract teachers to the profession, then speak up. But it looks blatantly like a ploy to keep people from being career educators.

4. School Board Meetings

This past October, the Washington Post printed a letter it uncovered which serves as a template for many fighting against mask mandates in public forums – forums like contrentious school board meetings.

Here is a copy:

The letter is full of links to other material to “use” in confronting public officials.

Then this letter from the U.S. Attorney General appeared that same week.

So ubiquitously contentious have school board meetings become across the country that Saturday Night Live featured a rather accurate parody of one in its season premiere this past fall.

5. Teacher Retirement

Below is the salary schedule for a teacher in North Carolina for the 2020-2021 school year.

Any teacher new to the profession in the last seven years would never be on the second schedule because newer teachers are not allowed a pay bump for graduate degrees. Notice how the salaries also plateau after year 15.

So…

In essence, that second salary schedule would not exist for new teachers in the last few years.

There is no longevity pay included as it does not exist for teachers any longer.

Retirement is based on the average of four highest paid years of a teacher’s career. According to the 2020-2021 salary schedule, the most a teacher with a master’s degree and NBPTS certification could make (and be eligible for full pension with the correct number of years of service) is $58,240.

And as of this year, new teachers would not even get retiree health benefits.

Now go back a few years before the Great Recession.

schedule1
schedule2

If you went back to the 2008-2009 salary schedule, a teacher with a master’s degree and NBPTS certification could make (and be eligible for full pension with the correct number of years of service) an average of $64,750. And all veteran teachers would have received longevity pay above and beyond what the salary schedule said.

Now imagine if that same schedule was in play for teachers today and adjusted for inflation.

Oh, and now new teachers will not be able to have retiree health benefits.

They are already cutting into retirement benefits.

6. School Safety

There is a high school less than one half of a mile from my home where the majority of high school students in my neighborhood attend. In fact, there are parents in my neighborhood who graduated from this same school. They are now sending and will send their kids there.

On Friday nights in the fall if I am not attending a football game at my school, I can hear their band playing their school’s fight song. And they always have a crowd; they are the defending state champions.

I personally know teachers there – wonderful people who love those kids no matter what. Every high school in the county has students who are friends with students at this school. Winston-Salem still has that “big town” feeling to it and in a system that allows for students to choose among high schools, there exist many relationships that are not confined by school zones.

This school is simply an excellent school full of tradition, integrity, and pride.

This school year, there was a shooting there and a student was killed.

There was another school shooting that same week at a high school in Wilmington. It is the same school where my mother-in-law graduated. That school also has a proud history and lots of tradition.

That’s two shootings in North Carolina schools in the second week of the school year in the middle of a pandemic where the spread of COVID among high school students is at an all-time high.

We need more wrap-around services in our schools. We need more nurses, counselors, and social workers. We need to do something about overcrowded schools and these large class sizes. We need to address having more people in our schools to work with students. We need to talk about guns and mental health.

But we need to really start looking at all schools as “our” schools. That means actively looking at every school we support with our constitutional obligation as a state as the very school that teaches “our” children.

What happened at Mt. Tabor High School and New Hanover High School are not isolated events. If the years since Columbine has shown our country anything, it is that no school is immune from acts of violence and tragedy.

I do not know many people who would not try and move heaven and earth if it meant the well-being and safety of their own children.

The students at Mt. Tabor and New Hanover are “our” kids. The educators at those schools teach “our” kids. The public servants who went to these campuses were there for “our” kids.

Loving “our” kids means more than just thoughts and prayers.

Loving “our” kids requires taking action and making investments in schools that do not always start out with a bottom line financially.

7. Learning Loss Vs. Leadership Loss

This was the argument – numbers in a data table.

To State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, last school year had been a “lost year of learning.”

Dismiss the irony that a person who was a chancellor of an online college that had really no “in-person learning” itself said the above.

Dismiss the fact that that data table left so many questions that need to be answered.

  • So, how many of these students live in poverty?
  • How many already had circumstances in their lives that impeded their ability to engage with curriculum that just got exacerbated by the government’s response to the pandemic?
  • How many of these students live in households that were not helped by lack of Medicaid expansion, connectivity, or even adequate help from the worst state unemployment system in the country?

The very person who has been called for local school systems to open up school buildings during a pandemic literally sat on stages and offered newsworthy quotes with people who years ago made it harder for today’s public schools to actually open safely.

But back to this “learning loss” and all of these students failing.

Just imagine what those numbers would be if all teachers had treated grading and delivery of curriculum with the same expectations that we did before the pandemic.

I and other teachers altered everything in my approach to teaching – how we grade, what and when I accept work, how we communicate to and with students and parents, and how plan instruction.

We found more grace and more willingness and more love.

We changed the lens through which we were viewing the school year.

There was no historical precedent to go by. Nothing standard at all.

Truitt was literally showing us that she did not know that and that is why she was trying to measure student achievement without acknowledging student realities.

We had to reinvent process and delivery as well as focus more on the non academic aspects of what schools do. Mrs. Truitt was not willing to acknowledge that. She gave us a data table and stressed that we give standardized tests to students to measure “learning loss.”

But “learning loss” is nothing compared to “leadership loss.”

A leader cannot forget this pandemic and its effects on students, teachers, and schools outside of the classroom.

It means that nothing was learned from it.

And we have as a nation and as a state “lost” enough.

8.TeachNC And Failing to Adequately Address Vacancies

It launched in August of 2019. A superfluous program that even the idea of would have never been needed if North Carolina had not done so much damage to the teaching profession in the last ten years.

It’s called Teach North Carolina.

Originally, TeachNC was introduced at that February 2019 private dinner that not many teachers got to attend. Mark Johnson presented an initiative that took money from the Gates Foundation, Belk Foundation, and Coastal Credit Union and pays BEST NC and Teach.org to develop a website for what Kelly Hinchcliffe on WRAL.com described as a:

 “public-private teacher appreciation campaign to better align the image of the teaching profession with the fruitful, fulfilling career it is and develop a statewide teacher-recruitment system to attract the next generation of North Carolina teachers.”

The price tag for it? $750K. For what? To show “appreciation” for the teaching profession and present it as a viable option for a career in North Carolina.

And on December 27th, 2021 during the winter break before schools reconvened, this is how well TeachNC is helping to fill those vacancies.

That 8794 figure was just for classroom teacher vacancies.

Overall vacancies were much worse.

And just for perspective, this was the number of vacancies on September 22nd, 2021:

9. Charter Schools And The Courts

Two specific articles worth looking at which chronicle the courts declaring that charter schools are not public schools:

and that charter schools can not claim immunity in law suits:

Yesterday Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson “officially” named the members of his “indoctrination” task force to make sure that students in NC public schools do not become influenced by progressive views of society coming from teachers.

If you have not read about the proceedings of the task force and its lack of transparency, this is a good place to explore.

That article also included the released list of those on the task force.

15 members and of course the LT. Gov himself.

That’s 16.

And over a third of them are directly linked to the same libertarian think tank founded by Art Pope.

Two of those people are very involved in pushing a narrative that charter schools in NC do not promote segregation. You can look here and here.

Another member, Rep. David Willis, has been featured by the John Locke Foundation.

Another member, Dr. Gregory Cizek, was once appointed to a high position by Betsy DeVos.

That’s already half of the people on the list if you include Robinson.

The John Locke Foundation also has no love for NCAE, the largest teacher representative organization in the state, so it shouldn’t be ironic that the director of the Classroom Teachers Association is on the task force as well.

This is really no transparent task force by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a political operative group that acts without oversight and influenced by a single organization that has attacked public education in North Carolina for years. They are just trying to use the guise of “good intentions” and policy.

And not doing a good job of it.

What Betty White Could Teach This NCGA About Veteran Teachers

When Betty White passed this past week, the tributes that poured out through all avenues of social media were overwhelmingly heartfelt messages of the delight she brought to people over a career that spanned decades. Many praised White for her tireless ability to make others smile. Many were in awe of her longevity.

I was in awe of how young she still was at 99 years of age.

Betty White makes an appearance every year in my AP English Lang classes around the time of the Super Bowl. I have the students try and watch the game – not for the actual sporting event, but for the commercials; they are great fodder for analyzing appeals and logical fallacies. In the days before the game, I show some of the best Super Bowl commercials from years past.

The Snickers commercial with Betty White from 2010 is the first one that I show.

That commercial literally relaunched an new phase of Betty White’s career. Not long after, there was a petition to get her to host Saturday Night Live. It worked. In fact, it was re-aired this past Saturday in tribute to her (as it should).

Golden Girls' Actress Betty White Dead at 99 Years Old

But if you listen to the most recent interview with her from days before she died, you could since the sharpest of minds and the effortless way she talked about what kept her young and energized. She loved what she did and she put others ahead of herself. She was a veteran who kept working at her craft, but never forgot that the power of a community of people is greater than the sum of their parts. She married energy, expertise, experience, and empathy into one being and people were better for it.

She was the veteran who kept working on her craft in order to keep helping people.

Because she loved it.

There are so many veteran teachers in this state who still have that energy, expertise, experience, and empathy so needed in our public schools who are literally being driven out of the classroom by our North Carolina General Assembly. Retirements are increasing and many teachers who could become veterans are choosing to leave the profession.

When a state does not pay its veterans what they are worth yet keep adding to their plates while all the time sowing disrespect for the profession, then it is not surprising to see an educator shortage and teacher pipeline that is drying up on a daily basis.

People like Phil Berger (aged 69) and Tim Moore (who is 51) do not appreciate veteran teachers. Their legislative actions more than prove that.

Ironically, Berger’s age would make him almost ancient in the public schools. Moore, if he had entered teaching as his first career would actually be approaching full-pension retirement age. Yet, they seem to want to keep doing their “jobs” despite their age. They may tout their experience and expertise and that they still have a lot “left in the tank.”

But can they point to their ability to empathize with the people they supposedly serve?

Veteran teachers can. And they would continue serving in the classrooms if they felt the respect they so deserve.

This world needed Betty White. She showed that age was just a number, but to many in the NCGA, age is a barrier. And our public schools are suffering for it.