Expand The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program To Include All NC Public Colleges & Universities – Especially Our HBCU’s

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The above is from WRAL this past January.

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This past spring Mark Johnson released his budget recommendations for the next two-year cycle for the North Carolina General Assembly to use in their shaky investment in NC’s public schools.

He published those recommendations on his website. And here is an interesting segment:

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There is a $750K request for TeachNC which was described by Kelly Hinchcliffe  in WRAL.com.

His second initiative is a collaboration among the Department of Public Instruction, BEST NC and Teach.org, with support from the Belk Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Coastal Credit Union. “Teach NC,” launching this spring, is 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.”

Right above that “request” is a line for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, whose current version is but a shadow of the program that put so many great teachers in our NC schools. Johnson suggested “expanding” the schools participating from 5 to 8.

This latest iteration of the Teaching Fellow Program only accommodates 160 potential teachers at “only one of five public or private universities to be selected by an appointed committee by Nov. 15” for only select fields. This comes nowhere to replacing a program that yearly helped train 500 potential teachers at multiple campuses  in a variety of subjects who were for 25 years also walking advertisements for teaching in the state that was at one time committed to public schools.

$750K to the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program would be a more worthwhile investment than a public relations campaign run by private entities who would use taxpayer money to try and spin how badly the NCGA has treated the profession of teaching in public schools.

But imagine if just one-tenth of the budget surplus that Phil Berger and Tim Moore have been bragging about was reinvested into the Teaching Fellow Program and expanded it to beyond what it used to be to include all state-supported colleges and universities with emphasis on our public Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

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Because this state needs more good teachers. We especially need more teachers of color to whom our students can look up to in the most impressionable times of their lives.

Studies show that minority who have teachers of color achieve more in school.

Seems fairly straightforward.

 

How Mark Johnson Has Become the Face of the “Status Quo” In NC Public Education

Mark Johnson claims that he wants to change the “status quo.”

But in reality he wants to protect the “status quo.”

In fact, he is the “status quo.”

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At the end of this press release from last February Johnson is quoted as saying,

“We need leadership to come together to make this happen. Public education is too important to continue the status quo in North Carolina.”

The term “status quo” has become something of a nebulous term for public education and has evolved into a powerful logical fallacy used by reformers. The use of the “status quo” fallacy is not new, certainly for Mark Johnson. And it is a crutch that has reached absurdity because in actuality, Mark Johnson might be the very poster child for the “status quo.”

What Johnson and other business model reformers consider the “status quo” in education is intrinsically linked to a final product, measured by standardized testing and other mercurial measurements. However, the real “status quo” is not really linked to that final product. It is more a reflection of the constant infusion of reform models that have altered the process by which public schools have been able to teach our children. The truth is that the existing state of public education is always being subjected to scrutiny, modification, alteration, and change from outside forces for political or profit-minded reasons.

The real “status quo” is the commitment to flux and change to the variables that measure student achievement and school success by people outside of the actual education process. And in that regard, I do agree that the status quo should change.

If anything, the terrain of public education has been in a state of constant flux for the past thirty years. With the “Nation at Risk” report to “No Child Left Behind” to the advent of high stakes testing to the innumerable business models infused into education to “Race to the Top” to Common Core to charter school movement to vouchers, the thought of even calling what we have had in North Carolina “status quo” is not just wrong –

It’s ignorant. And it is purposefully done.

And all of those causes in the change to the “status quo” were not necessarily brought by educators as much as by politicians and business leaders, Johnson included as he echoes and rubber stamps the very policies and initiatives championed by NC General Assembly GOP stalwarts. The very actions that have caused their version of the“status quo” are allowing politicians to blame public education for failing to hit targets that are constantly moving or in many cases invisible so that “leaders” and reformers can come and claim to save the day.

That’s how we get Mark Johnson, the most unqualified state superintendent propped up by a General Assembly that not only has gerrymandered districts and pushed unconstitutional laws, but has spent taxpayer money to help transfer power away from the State Board of Education to a puppet superintendent to privatize the public good of public education even more.

It’s as if he conveniently forgot that the people elected him to be state superintendent based on the job description and powers of office attached to every other state superintendent before him.

It’s as if he forgot that what he claims he needs to lead the state’s school system has to include what powers were granted to him without the input of the people by a biased NCGA weeks AFTER he was elected.

It’s as if he forgets that in the months since he has assumed office he has done absolutely NOTHING to change what he claims to be the “status quo.” As a state, we have heard nothing about the innovations he said he would bring and the only “urgency” he has used is to keep going back to court with taxpayer money to gain the power to divert more taxpayer money to vouchers and unregulated charter schools.

It’s as if he forgets that he himself is the “status quo.”

If one were to simply look at all of the initiatives introduced into public education (both nationally and state-based) while considering changes in curriculum and requirements, that person would see an ever changing landscape.

A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core, SAT, ACT, standardized tests, achievement gap, graduation rates, merit pay, charter schools, parent triggers, vouchers, value added-measurements, virtual schools, Teach For America, formal evaluations – there are so many variables, initiatives, and measurements that constantly change without consistency which all affect public schools and how the public perceives those schools.

When entities like the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the American Federation of Children, the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), think tanks, and other PAC’s are constantly promoting reforms in public schools, the idea that there is a “status quo” becomes implausible. Those entities are all active in North Carolina and they see Mark Johnson as their man.

He will protect their “status quo.”

So if there is any “status quo” associated with the public schools, it’s that there are always outside forces acting on the public school system which seek to show that they are failing our kids.

And it has Johnson’s face attached to it.

That’s the “status quo” that should not be accepted.

About The State Superintendent’s Weak Letter To The Editor Concerning “Fighting Education Bureaucracy”

In the wake of recent questions concerning his purchase and distribution of iPads in the past couple of weeks, Mark Johnson seems to have taken the same route as iStation when pandering for public sentiment: penning an op-ed in the largest newspaper in the state to put a rosy veneer on yet another stain that is the current lack of leadership in the Department of Public Instruction.

This op-ed fails.

Horribly.

The text of it follows:

FIGHTING EDUCATION BUREAUCRACY

The writer is state superintendent of schools.

I often disagree with the N.C. Board of Education, especially when they prioritize bureaucracy over classrooms. In 2016, my predecessor chose to use the State Superintendent’s operating budget for sponsoring conferences and paying for meals for hundreds of attendees. In 2017, the Board of Education, which sued to try to keep control of the state education agency, used $380,000 to pay for lawyers in courtrooms rather than resources in classrooms.

They have their priorities, and I have mine.

I travel the state often to avoid becoming yet another Raleigh insider who never meets face-to-face with constituents. I frequently hear about the delay in response time caused by bureaucracy. I also get to see firsthand how N.C. teachers make use of iPads to help provide better, personalized opportunities for students.

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Mark Johnson

In 2019, my team and I made operations at DPI more efficient and, consequently, had money in the budget at the end of the fiscal year. We decided to use those funds to directly support classrooms.

I ran for office to be an agent of change. I knew that meant establishment insiders and media elites would never like me. But I work for the people of North Carolina.

Mark Johnson, Raleigh

Every time Johnson mentions his predecessor, Dr. June Atkinson, he keeps reminding this teacher of three specific things that separate him from Dr. Atkinson:

  • His absolute lack of experience in education compared to hers,
  • His lack of a backbone in confronting the NCGA about what is best for public schools, and
  • His obsession in comparing his lack of achievements with hers.

But just looking at the glossy points Johnson tries to make in his vain attempt to campaign for a better image, one can easily see that his disconnect with the reality of the NC Public School System continues to widen.

“I often disagree with the N.C. Board of Education, especially when they prioritize bureaucracy over classrooms.”

That’s a hilarious way to begin this letter considering that before Johnson even took office he was granted more power as a state superintendent than any of his predecessors, even though he was the most inexperienced person to ever hold the job.

Just remember that HB17 was passed in a special session meant for hurricane relief. It literally made Johnson the most enabled man in Raleigh.

And when the chair and vice-chair of the GOP controlled State Board of Education said that the General Assembly overstepped its boundaries in granting Johnson as the incoming state superintendent this much power, then that sent more than one red flag into the air.

When two former governors, one of whom is Republican Jim Martin, said that special session went too far with bills such as the one which enabled Johnson, then sirens were screaming.

When the John Locke Foundation said that the power grab that involved the role of Johnson’s office had gone too far, then many were saying that part of hell is freezing over.

In 2016, my predecessor chose to use the State Superintendent’s operating budget for sponsoring conferences and paying for meals for hundreds of attendees.”

Maybe that is true, but when Johnson puts on “private” dinners for major announcements that are funded by outside entities, taxpayers still “pay.”

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What that night showed was that Johnson was willing to have private entities finance the chance to craft and mold initiatives that have proven not to help public education.

“In 2017, the Board of Education, which sued to try to keep control of the state education agency, used $380,000 to pay for lawyers in courtrooms rather than resources in classrooms.”

Interesting that Johnson forgot to tell you that the NCGA gave him taxpayer money as well, knowing full well that there would be a lawsuit.

In 2017, Johnson was given 700,000 dollars to hire people loyal only to Johnson who were performing tasks already fulfilled and to cover legal fees in a lawsuit with the state board.

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That also happened when Johnson allowed the NCGA to cut the budget for DPI by millions of dollars without any fight.

From WRAL’s Kelly Hinchcliffe in June of 2018:

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Friday that the Department of Public Instruction is eliminating 61 positions – 40 employees and 21 vacant positions. The layoffs are in response to $5.1 million in budget cuts lawmakers made to the agency.

The cuts mainly affect employees in two divisions – Educator Support Services, which helps some of the state’s lowest-performing schools, and Information Technology. The General Assembly reduced the agency’s administrative funds by 6.2 percent this school year and 13.9 percent next school year.

“I support the decisions we made, but we did not make them lightly,” Johnson said in a statement. “I thank all the affected employees for their hard work in support of our public schools. Each will have the option to receive transition assistance, and we are adamant about helping each affected employee who wants our help to find new employment.”

“They have their priorities, and I have mine.”

Yep. Johnson sure does.

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I travel the state often to avoid becoming yet another Raleigh insider who never meets face-to-face with constituents.”

If Johnson could identify himself in this picture, then this teacher will believe his statement.

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In 2019, my team and I made operations at DPI more efficient and, consequently, had money in the budget at the end of the fiscal year.”

Remember when Johnson spent a million dollars to pay Ernst & Young to perform an audit to find supposed “wasteful” uses of funds in DPI?

The audit concluded that DPI was underfunded.

To say that he is being more “efficient” with money is another way of saying that he is complicit in the underfunding of public schools here in North Carolina.

“I ran for office to be an agent of change. I knew that meant establishment insiders and media elites would never like me.”

This prepackaged talking point supplied to Johnson by those who enable him is another way to say he was elected to change the “status quo.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The term “status quo” has become something of a nebulous term for public education and has evolved into a powerful logical fallacy used by reformers. The use of the “status quo” fallacy is not new, certainly for Mark Johnson. And it is a crutch that has reached absurdity because in actuality, Mark Johnson might be the very poster child for the “status quo.”

What Johnson and other business model reformers consider the “status quo” in education is intrinsically linked to a final product, measured by standardized testing and other mercurial measurements. However, the real “status quo” is not really linked to that final product. It is more a reflection of the constant infusion of reform models that have altered the process by which public schools have been able to teach our children. The truth is that the existing state of public education is always being subjected to scrutiny, modification, alteration, and change from outside forces for political or profit-minded reasons.

The real “status quo” is the commitment to flux and change to the variables that measure student achievement and school success by people outside of the actual education process.

“But I work for the people of North Carolina.”

Only for some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merit Pay, Differential Pay, And Other Bad Ideas for North Carolina Public Education

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I do not know of a single instance in public education where merit pay actually has increased student achievement. Yet, many lawmakers not only advocate merit pay, but also differential pay based on the willingness “to take on additional tasks” like clubs, coaching, mentor, and chairing of departments.

First, look at merit pay as a whole. The bottom line is that merit pay destroys collaboration and promotes competition. That is antithetical to the premise of public education. Not only does it force teachers to work against each other, it fosters an atmosphere of exclusivity and disrespect. What could be more detrimental to our students? Add that to the fact that teachers are teaching more classes and more students than in the past. That alone raises the stakes.

Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick.

Furthermore, the GOP-led NCGA still does not seem to acknowledge that student growth is different than student test scores. Just look at the formula for the grading of schools still in place. The overreliance on test scores alone shows that a bottom line figure that can be interpreted in many ways stigmatizes schools where real student growth is occurring. Furthermore, growth is measured by an anomalous algorithm housed on the campus of a private entity. When some of our colleagues deal with students who experience more poverty, health issues, and other factors, then how can one say that those teachers do not “grow” those students when an arbitrary test score is all that is used to measure students? And all the growth that happens for students because of effective educators cannot be measured by a singular test.

Besides, if the NCGA thinks merit pay is effective, then I would question their willingness to fund that merit pay. Anyone who has taught in North Carolina for an extended period of time remembers that we had the ABC’s in effect for years which gave teachers/schools bonuses based on scores. One problem with that model was that it pitted teachers against each other. Another problem is that Raleigh decided not to fund it any longer.

That reason alone makes the idea of giving bonuses for the passing of AP, IB, and CTE course tests to individual teachers a terrible idea. It is saying that some tests are more important than others. It is saying that some teachers have a harder job than others simply because of the title of the course. There’s more to it than that.

I teach multiple sections of AP English Language and Composition. Some years I have over 150 AP students in my classes. That’s a lot. To say that all of them will have a passing grade on the AP test in May of the school year is ludicrous. The national pass rate is well below 60%. BUT THEY ALL LEARN AND GROW AS WRITERS.

While I may teach a “tough” course, to say that I alone deserve the credit for their passing the test is also ludicrous. So many other teachers in the lives of those students helped to hone the skill set needed to allow them to even be in the class to begin with. History teachers gave them context for a lot of their arguments. Science teachers and math teachers gave them a basis in logical thinking. Other English teachers gave them a foundation for writing well. And that’s just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.

How would any lawmaker like to be subject to a system of merit pay as a legislator? Since each person in the NCGA does work that affects all of our state, maybe an evaluation should be conducted by people outside of each legislator’s district arbitrarily chosen without input and that legislator’s pay would be dependent on that report. What if those people were registered with another political party who supported LGBT rights?

The argument for differential pay does not hold much water either. It is very hard to quantify what teachers do for the betterment of the school community. On top of teaching more classes and more students now than when I first taught in NC, I serve on committees, perform duties, attend workshops while having to provide sub plans, work on recertification, coach academic teams, sponsor two clubs, chair a fantastic English department, and provide tutoring. Can you honestly put a market value (words you used) on that? Oh, that does not include the hours spent at home grading and planning.

If North Carolina paid teachers on an hourly wage at “market” value, then Raleigh would literally see almost every teacher’s income double, but that would tarnish our reputation for being in the lowest rung of states in compensating teachers. And if market value is something that some want to use as a guideline for teacher pay, then simply look at our teacher salaries in comparison to other states. In that context, we are literally driving the market down.

 

Dear Mark Johnson, How Many Damn iPads Did You Get?

So last year Mark Johnson bought 24,000 iPads with Read to Achieve money that was just laying around.

From WRAL.com last August:

Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced the plan Tuesday morning, holding up an iPad for the media, the governor and other members of North Carolina’s Council of State. Johnson’s office put the statewide pricetag for the devices at about $6 million. It didn’t immediately have a per-unit price to quote.

The money will come from some $15 million in unused money the Department of Public Instruction has from previous budget years. Just why this money has been sitting unused is a matter of some dispute.

But many of them sat in a warehouse for about a year and Johnson still purchased some more. From WRAL this past August:

More than 3,200 iPads are sitting in a state warehouse – 2,400 of them have been there for a year – but North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson says the devices will be delivered to districts this school year. He plans to announce details next week about what schools will be receiving them.

Johnson bought 24,000 iPads for North Carolina’s K-3 teachers last year, but schools returned about 2,400 of them, or 10%, because they preferred other devices, such as Google Chromebooks. Last month, Johnson bought 800 more iPads using money from his superintendent’s budget, bringing the total in the warehouse to 3,200.

So after receiving criticism that there were some iPads collecting dust, Johnson then made sure to get them out to schools. He said that the hurricane season had caused delays the previous school year.

Again from WRAL:

More than 3,200 iPads are sitting in a state warehouse – 2,400 of them have been there for a year – but North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson says the devices will be delivered to districts this school year. He plans to announce details next week about what schools will be receiving them.

Apparently those details were not very detailed.

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200 iPads went to Okracoke Island which was devastated by Hurricane Dorian just days before. But didn’t Johnson say that hurricanes kept iPads from being distributed when he was approached about the 3,200 in the warehouse in August?

But on Sept. 30th, Johnson’s spokesperson made sure to let everyone know that all of the iPads had been distributed.

WRAL.com reported on Sept. 30th that the remaining iPads in a central warehouse had been distributed by Mark Johnson’s office after repeated inquiries by news organizations and public school advocates.

RALEIGH, N.C. — More than 3,200 iPads sitting in a state warehouse – 2,400 of them for the past year – have all been delivered to school districts across the state, a spokesman for North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson said.

Johnson faced criticism this summer after Charlotte teacher and education blogger Justin Parmenter wrote that thousands of iPads the superintendent bought were “collecting dust at the North Carolina Textbook Warehouse in Raleigh.”

Johnson’s spokesman, Graham Wilson, told WRAL News by email Friday afternoon that “[a]ll of the iPads have now been distributed.”

Then this happened.

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The teachers were told that they simply could “reach out” to ask for iPads – the ones that were already said to have been distributed.

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So, I have to ask, “How many damn iPads did you buy, Mark Johnson?”

Because they seem to be reproducing on their own like…

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Just add water.

But if you want any now, you have to fill out a form.

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And then that form may have to go through three RFP’s.

Like iStation.

These Ten Educational “Reforms” In North Carolina Have Intentionally Hurt Our Public Schools

1. Opportunity Grants (Vouchers) –

There has never been any empirical evidence that the vouchers actually work. Maybe voucher proponents would like to point to NC State’s study last year, but that study ultimately did not make conclusions on the veracity of the vouchers. In fact, it said that the Opportunity Grants need much more research as it is hard to assess the program.

Or they might point to “satisfaction surveys” like Joel Ford of PEFNC did in an op-ed on EdNC.org. If that is the only variable by which they can measure the effectiveness of the grants, then that is absolutely weak.

And it has been shown that Opportunity Grants have heavily been used in nontransparent religious private schools. Furthermore, not even half of the funds for the vouchers have been awarded, yet the NCGA keeps putting more money into this reform.

From Public School First NC.org:

In the 2017-18 school year, 7001 students attended 405 private schools at a cost of $20.3 million. The largest cohort of Opportunity Scholarship recipients attended a single religious school in Fayetteville, with those 201 students making up more than half of its student population. The largest dollar amount, $451,442, went to Liberty Christian Academy in Richlands, NC where 122 of the 145 students are voucher recipients. The 2018-2019 Budget Adjustments bill increased funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program from $45 to $55 million.

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2. Innovative School District –

North Carolina’s ISD is run by an out-of-state for-profit charter chain. To date it has only  school and it just got its third superintendent and its second principal – after only one full year in operation.

It is not a success by any stretch of the imagination.

Here is the most recent growth rates and grades for subsets for that ISD school.

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Southside Ashpole Elementary:

  • 4 – F’s
  • Everything else is an “I” which stands for “Insufficient Data.”
  • 1 – Not Met’s
  • 2 – Met

The current ISD here in NC has been in existence for over three years. It has not worked.

At all.

3. Charter School Cap Removed –

This past January, Kris Nordstrom published an article that openly showed this data.

The cap was removed beginning in 2012-2013.

And there is substantial evidence that charter schools are more segregated than traditional public schools.

The Excel spreadsheet in the previous post lined to above is a list of every charter school that exists now in this state that had a school performance grade attached to it for the 2018-2019 school year. It is cross-referenced to the last full school report card it has on record from the 2017-2018 school year.

According to that data table in that post which includes 173 charter schools,

  • 81 of them had a student population that was at least 65% white.
  • 40 of them had a student population that was at least 80%  white.
  • 100 of them had at least 50% of the students classified as white.
  • 31 of them had a student population that was at least 65%  black.
  • 17 of them had a student population that was at least 80% black.
  • 43 of them had at least 50% of the students classified as black.

To put in perspective, that means:

  • Over 110 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 65% one race/ethnic group.
  • 150 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 50% one race/ethnic group.
  • Over 50 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 80% one race/ethnic group.
  • 132 of the 173 schools listed had a 2017-2018 student population that was lower than  40% Economically Disadvantaged.

4. School Performance Grades –

16 states

NC is the only state that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade. NC weighs proficiency at least 30% more than the next ranking state.

And North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.

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5. Virtual Charter Schools –

There are two virtual charter schools that have not very well in the past, but were renewed by the state for another four years and championed by Mark Johnson.

Here are their grades and growth by subset groups.

reforms3reforms2

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NC Virtual Academy:

1 – F
6 – D’s
2- C’s
5 – Not Met’s
1- Met

NC Cyber Academy:

4 – F’s
4 – D’s
1- B
6 – Not Met’s
0- Met

6. Read to Achieve –

Since it’s inception as a copy of a failed Jeb Bush initiative, Read to Acheive has not worked. In fact, it has had the opposite effect.

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Oh, and that whole iStation debacle? It pertains to Red to Achieve.

7. Educational Savings Accounts –

Like many other endeavors in the reform minded views of lawmakers, the NC ESA is highly unregulated. It is crafted much like Arizona’s program and that one has been highly abused because it is not regulated. Instances of using funds for non-educational purchases were not uncommon.

Also, if you look at the requirements, using the ESA “releases the school district from all obligations to educate the student.” That can be interpreted in a few different ways, but ultimately it absolves the school system from being responsible for the services it would have already provided if the ESA was not used. An IEP would cover it, if that IEP was constructed so.

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Furthermore, it would seem like taking money away from other students in a state where per-pupil expenditure still rates in the bottom rungs in the country.

8. SB599 and Other Teacher Recruitment Initiatives –

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Whatever or whoever could have put North Carolina in a situation that would create a teacher shortage in our public schools?

The answer is easy: the GOP majority in the North Carolina General Assembly.

The shortage of teacher candidates that schools of education have experienced is a symptom of a deeper problem. A bill like SB599 is a thinly veiled attempt to further allow for-profit companies like Texas Teachers of Tomorrow to take North Carolina tax money and place pseudo-qualified candidates into our classrooms.

Another jab at de-professionalizing a profession that the GOP majority in the NCGA has already de-professionalized to a large extent.

And now we have TeachNC.

9. Bonus Pay –

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At one time, I wrote Sen. Phil Berger about why bonus pay does not work and I had received a bonus because of how my students performed on AP tests. I listed the following ten reasons:

  1. I do not need a carrot stick. If getting a bonus to get students to perform better really works, then this should have been done a long time ago. It’s funny to think of rewarding me for my students working harder and not other teachers who do absolute wonders in the classroom that do not get measured.
  2. This creates an atmosphere of competition. I did not get into teaching so that I could compete with my fellow teachers and see who makes more money, but rather collaborate with them.
  3. I did not take those tests. The students took the tests. Students need to be able to harness their own motivation and hopefully I can couple it with my motivation. Yet many of these students are taking eight classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and helping families. Plus, with all of the testing that we put on students that takes away from actual instructional time is staggering. Sometimes, I am amazed at what our students actually accomplish in light of the gravity they are placed under.
  4. I was not the only person who taught them. To say that the success of my students on the AP English Language and Composition Test solely rested on my performance is ludicrous. While the cliché’ “It takes a village” might be overused, I do believe that the entire school’s faculty and staff has something to do with not only my students’ success, but my own.
  5. Bonus pay does not work. It’s like merit pay. There is really no evidence that it helps public schools. Remember the ABC’s from the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s? Yep, I do too. So should Sen. Berger.
  6. The state does not have a reputation of fully funding their initiatives. Again, remember the ABC’s? I still do. Those bonuses dried up because they were not fully funded. And after the bonuses are taken away in the future (which they probably will), will the expectations of student performance be lessened? History says that it will not.
  7. My class is not more important as others. They all matter.
  8. This sets a dangerous precedent in measuring students and teachers. Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick.
  9. This is a reward, but far from showing respect. Many teachers got a raise in the past four years, but again that is an “average” raise. Bonuses in this case seem more like “hush money” and a means to brag that lawmakers seem to care about teacher compensation. But if Berger really respected teachers, he would do more for them than give “bonuses” to a few of them. He would reward them with salaries comparable with the rest of the nation. He would restore due-process rights for new teachers, he would give back graduate degree pay, he would stop measuring schools with a defeatist model, and he would restore longevity pay.
  10. It’s pure grandstanding. There is uncontrolled charter school growth. There are loosened sanctions on for-profit virtual schools. There are massive amount of money going to Opportunity Grants which will no doubt fill the coffers of schools that do not even teach the same curriculum as those teachers you want to “reward” with these bonuses. There is a lawsuit between our puppet state superintendent and the state school board Berger helped appoint, and an ISD district still out there. There is the lowered per pupil expenditure. All of this affects the very schools that Berger thinks a bonus will help to hide.

Of course Berger did not respond.

10. Adjusted Teacher Pay Schedule-

Below is the salary schedule for a teacher in North Carolina for the 2018-2019 school year. With the current stalemate in budget negotiations, it will be the salary schedule for the 2019-2020 school year.

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Any teacher new to the profession in the last four 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.

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

And remember that the average pay that people like Mark Johnson, Phil Berger, and Tim Moore like to brag about includes local supplements that the state is not responsible for.

Now go back ten years.

schedule1

schedule2

Ten years ago each salary step would have had an increase in pay.

All teachers, new and veteran, would have had graduate degree pay ten years ago.

All veteran teachers would have received longevity pay ten years ago above and beyond what the salary schedule said.

 

 

Remember That Mark Johnson Listened To One Lobbyist Over An Entire Profession – Looking at ClassWallet and iStation

When Mark Johnson announced that he wanted to use ClassWallet last spring to “allow” teachers to “control” their supply purchases and give a private company the power and money to track those purchases without local LEA oversight, he was met with great resistance from teachers and educational leaders.

He deserved it.

When Mark Johnson announced that he signed a contract with iStation to replace mClass right at the end of the year against the recommendations of a DPI-formed committee, it sent shock waves around the state and the brush-back from that was intense – just read Justin Parmenter’s great work on that on his blog Note From the Chalkboard.

He deserved that as well.

Remember that both ClassWallet and iStation hired the same lobbyist in NC to procure those contracts from DPI. His name is Doug Miskew from the Public Sector Group in Raleigh.

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A simple search on the official Secretary of State of NC website that registers all official lobbyists  for one Doug Miskew reveals:

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The groups and interests he officially represents includes:

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That’s iStation and ClassWallet. Simply clicking on each one of these allows one to see that Miskew is the only lobbyist registered for both in NC.

PSG4PSG5

Maybe what Mark Johnson meant by his ‘listening tour” was that he was going to listen to one lobbyist and not teachers and education leaders.

 

No School Should Ever Be Vandalized – Not Mine. Not Yours.

A recent Facebook post from the baseball coach at the school where I teach strikes many nerves.

😡If kids/people only knew how much time, work, sweat, and money went into taking care of our fields and facilities then this wouldn’t happen. These are just some of the pictures of the actual damage done. They also got our state championship banners, CPC tournament and conference championships banners, etc 😡

What followed were pictures of the vandalism that occurred at some of the athletic facilities at West Forsyth High School.

The hours, the work, the fundraising, the care, and the commitment it takes to maintain athletic facilities at any school is enormous. And the reward for that is seeing great students do great things to become great people.

And great things have happened on those fields. State championship teams have played there. There are not many weeks in a year where my kid and I have not been in attendance.

If you know anything, let the West Forsyth Athletic Department be aware.

Below are the pictures posted (some more derogatory than others) as they are presented on social media, and while there is another school’s name referenced, it is not in any way representative of that school’s commitment to excellence nor is this post an accusation. The fact that a school was written on some of the pieces of property does not mean that it came from students at this school.

This is not the first time this has happened at a school in this district.

But it is beneath what any school stands for.

And we all pay for it in one way or another.

west1west2west3west4west5west6west8west9west10west11west12west13west14west67

 

 

 

The Head of DPI is Not Mark Johnson – He’s Just the Most Enabled Man in Raleigh

Consider this – a corporate attorney who taught for two school years through a program that historically does not place many long term teachers into the public schools and who did not complete a full term as a school board member was elected in the most contentious election year in recent memory to become state superintendent.

After he was elected and before he took office, he was granted more power as a state superintendent by a gerrymandered legislature in a special session that was thought to be called to repeal HB2. He has spent more than half his entire term “embroiled” in a legal battle with the state board of education that was controlled by the same political party and literally was (still is) a non-public figure while budgets expand vouchers, keep charter schools from being regulated, stagnate per pupil expenditures for traditional public schools, and cut the budgets for the very department he is supposed to run.

All on the taxpayers’ dime.

Remember what Phil Berger had to say about Johnson in 2017 when Johnson won his initial round in courts with the state board?

“Voters elected Superintendent Mark Johnson based on his platform of strengthening our state’s public schools, and I’m pleased the court recognized the constitutionality of the law and that our superintendent should be able to execute the platform voters elected him to do”

There’s a tremendous amount of smug irony in that statement. Why? Because what voters elected Johnson to do was based on the job description that at the time was associated with the state superintendent’s job. What power Johnson now has was augmented by Berger and his cronies after Johnson was elected in a wave of conservative electoral victory.

If it was so important for the state superintendent to have new power over the public school system that was originally in the hands of the state board of education, then should not have each preceding state superintendent been given the same power?

Apparently not. Because each preceding state superintendent was much more qualified to be such than Johnson is. Each preceding state superintendent would have fought against the measures that have been enabled, enacted, and empowered by the current NCGA because that would have been in the best interests of the traditional public school system.

Especially June Atkinson. But Dr. Atkinson was no puppet for the NCGA.

Mark Johnson is.

When Berger stated that Johnson was elected on “his platform of strengthening our state’s public schools,” what he really inferred was that Johnson was going to allow “reformers” like Berger to strengthen charter schools and voucher programs – initiatives that actually hurt traditional public schools.

And it is a little sadistically humorous that a man (Berger) who has championed a variety of policies that have been ruled unconstitutional (gerrymandered districts, Voter ID law, etc.) would brag about upholding the constitutionality of the law. That same man also pushed to not extend Medicaid in this state when so many people needed it and the very hospital in his hometown of Eden filed for bankruptcy.

Consider the reorganization that occurred at DPI last summer after the final decision of the lawsuit between the state board and Mark Johnson.

Below is what it was prior to the new reorganization.

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This is what it looks like now.

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The first thing to notice is that on the older chart some positions were titled with ALL CAPS and had a thicker border surrounding them. That meant that these people were Dual-Report Positions. In short, they answered to both the state board and to Johnson. However, that went away on July 1, 2018.

What that means is that those people who held (or hold now) those positions not only answer to Johnson alone, but he has total control over what they do (or the person who controls Johnson), A man with less than two calendar years of teacher training and classroom experience combined along with an unfinished term on a local school board now “calls” the shots for all of those veterans in a DPI whose budget is being slashed by the very people who prop up Johnson.

Also in the older chart, Johnson reports to the state board. In the new one, the state board of education does not even really have any ties to DPI except through an internal auditor. It’s like they do not exist, which is just what the powers that run the NCGA wanted.

Have you ever seen Mark Johnson rally for traditional public schools? Have you ever seen him actually go to a large group of teachers and hold himself accountable? Has he ever gone in front of a group of superintendents and held himself accountable?

That’s because Johnson seems to only do the bidding of one person: Phil Berger.

In actuality the organizational chart at DPI looks more like this:

reorg.png

The state of North Carolina needs an educational leader to lead the public school system – a person not afraid to confront a the likes of Phil Berger and instruct him that he has been abusing the system. We need someone who will fight for the public schools and place principles before personalities.

What we have now is a weak, ineffective, timid individual who does the bidding of one person who has sought to dismantle the public school system to open it up to “reforms” that benefit a very few.

 

“Legisplaining in Eduspeak” –

Legisplaining – (n.) informal – the explanation of a serious social issue typically to voters in a manner that is condescending or belittling.

Eduspeak – (n) informal – terms about education specifically used by people in education but sometimes used by those who have power to legislate educational budgets.

What happens when a lawmaker who has never been an educator begins to talk about public education while presenting himself as an expert on schools to intentionally cloud the issue of public education for political gain? It’s called “Legisplaining in Eduspeak” or what we hear most every day from people in Raleigh when they discuss public education in North Carolina.

No one has perfected the craft of legisplaining in eduspeak more than Sen. Phil Berger who continues to spew forth “strong talk” on his commitment to adequately fund public schools and pay teachers a comparable salary on the national level.

Consider his #NCSuccessStory initiative that began last year in August right before the 2018 elections.

ncsuccessstory

He had a tweet at that same time that said.

“In the last years under Democrats, thousands of state-funded teaching positions had been eliminated, teachers were furloughed and their pay was frozen. Since taking over in 2011, Republicans have focused on significant pay raises for teachers.    

It’s funny that Berger never mentions that in 2008 we had ourselves a bit of an economic downturn. No one party is immune from criticism, but it is interesting to point out that Berger and his minions really never point to the GREAT RECESSION. No one got raises in any government jobs. McCrory gave raises as state revenue started to gain momentum, but those raises came with a price.

And many teachers voted to furlough days back then – to save jobs for others.

A website appeared on the landscape in 2016 that expanded on the Berger BS and it is being pushed out again for the 2019-2020 school year. Here is the home page for www.ncteacherraise.com. Notice it has the red, white, and blue of the American Flag.

And it a wonderful example of legislaining in eduspeak.

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A few questions/concerns arise when first looking at this patriotic website. The first is the banner at the top, “The Truth About NC’s Rising Teacher Salaries.” Nothing could be more antithetical to the truth. Why? Because the very same NC GOP party that created this website also has done or enabled the following in the last six years:

  • Removed due process rights for new teachers to keep them from advocating loudly for students and schools.
  • Removed graduate degree pay bumps for teachers entering the profession.
  • Instituted a Value Added Measurement system which are amorphous and unproven way to measure teacher effectiveness.
  • Pushed for merit pay when no evidence exists that it works.
  • Attacks on teacher advocacy groups like NCAE.
  • Created a revolving door of standardized tests that do not measure student growth.
  • Lowered the amount of money spent per pupil in the state when adjusted for inflation.
  • Removed class size caps.
  • Instituted a Jeb Bush style school grading system that is unfair and does nothing more than show how poverty affects public schools.
  • Created an uncontrolled and unregulated system of vouchers called Opportunity Grants.
  • Fostered charter school growth that has not improved the educational landscape and siphons money from the public school system.
  • Created failing virtual schools outsourced to private industry.
  • Allowed for an Innovation School District to be constructed.
  • Eliminated the Teaching Fellows Program and brought it back as a former shell of itself.
  • Created an atmosphere of disrespect for teachers that teaching candidate numbers in colleges and universities have dropped over 30%.

Look at the fine print at the bottom of that initial screen shot.

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It says, “This chart compares only state funded base teacher pay and does not account for other pay that generally increased overall teacher pay, including: longevity, performance bonuses, supplemental pay for National Board Certification and advanced degrees, local teacher supplements – which can be as much as an additional 24.5% of state base teacher pay, and a robust benefits package worth an average of $23,629.37 per teacher per year.

Read that fine print closely. Because it is spin.

  • WE DO NOT HAVE LONGEVITY ANY LONGER.
  • WE DO NOT OFFER ADVANCED DEGREE PAY TO TEACHERS HIRED AFTER 2014.
  • NOT ALL SYSTEMS OFFER LOCAL TEACHER SUPPLEMENTS. AND THE GOP IN RALEIGH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LOCAL SUPPLEMENTS! 
  • “AN ADDITIONAL %24.5?” REALLY? WHERE? FOR HOW MANY?
  • “AVERAGE $23,629.37 BENEFITS PACKAGE PER TEACHER PER YEAR?” PROVE IT.

Further along this website you see these:

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And this…

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The first chart with the line graph simply says that a teacher in North Carolina will get to the near maximum salary within 15 years of experience. So, what would veteran teachers have to look forward to after year 15? Not much.

It still shows that the highest amount of salary a new teacher will ever make is @ 53,000. That’s terrible. As one sees his/her children grow and want to go to college, the amount of money being netted still amounts to the same. Not many teachers will appreciate making almost the same amount of money in year 30 as he/she did in year 15. And it totally negates that there is no longer longevity pay for veteran teachers, and no longer advanced degree pay or due process rights for new teachers.

And it is comparing it to a plan that was made YEARS AGO.

The second screen shot highlights some spun numbers and explanations of those numbers. Allow for some translation of the information.

  1. $53,975 – Teacher average salary (including local supplements). This number is putting into account current teachers who do still have advanced degree pay and due process rights. They will retire first if they do not change professions. If the proposal shown in the first table is to go into effect, the average will go down over time as the top salary would be 54,000 for those who just entered or will enter the teaching profession. It’s hard to have an average salary over the highest amount given for a salary.
  2. 5 – Number of consecutive teacher pay raises. Not for all. Refer to graph below for #6.
  3. #3 – Fastest Rising Teacher Salaries in U.S. This is true in the sense of “average”, but those raises have heavily been on the front end of the teacher scale. That means fewer dollars can affect a greater change in the percentage of pay increases. And Tim Moore recently admitted that previous pay raises have been for beginning teachers (look at his quote below).
  4. $8,600 – Average teacher raise since 2013. First it shows how bad salaries were, but this number is truly aided by the fact that most of the raises since 2013 were for newer teachers. Teachers who are just starting out got them. And it does not count graduate degree pay that many veteran teachers receive in order to help them stay in the profession. Oh, and longevity pay? Gone, as teachers no longer get that. And there is also that word, “average,” which so many times does not even equate to “actual”.
  5. %19 – Average percentage pay increase since 2013.That is the most recycled, spun statement used by West Jones Street concerning public education in the last five years. And it barely has validity. Why? Because this fastest growing teacher income designation is only true when it pertains to “average.” It does not mean “actual.” Again, those raises Berger refers to were funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Like an annual bonus, all state employees receive it—except, now, for teachers—as a reward for continued service. Yet the budget he mentions simply rolled that longevity money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise.
  6. $237,200 – Increase in lifetime earning potential of a North Carolina teacher since 2013. Misleading. First, the $54,000 salary cap is designed to make sure that veteran teachers do not stay in the profession. Secondly, this projection is not taking into account that the current retirement system may change. Look at all of the changes that have occurred in only the last six years. Imagine what might be planned for the next thirty. Oh, no longevity pay. If Berger wants to make that claim, then he needs to explain this as well:
    1
  7. #2 – Ranked Teacher Pay in the Southeast. Again, that’s skewed, especially since the new salary schedule is really comparing base pay for teachers who only have a Bachelor’s degree. Other states in the Southeast give graduate pay increases. In fact, there are some states in the country that have requirements that teachers have Masters Degrees. Maybe looking at the average teacher pay for those who have a Master’s Degree in the Southeast would be interesting to see.teacherpay5
    Now consider that North Carolina will not have this level of pay because there no longer is advanced degree pay for teachers hired after 2014. That might change that ranking.
  8. % 9.5 – Percentage pay increase that Governor Cooper vetoed. Actually, Gov. Cooper vetoed the entire budget in 2018, probably because lawmakers in power refused to listen to debate and hear amendments and passed the budget through a “nuclear” option. Cooper’s plan called for raises to be more evenly distributed across experience levels. In 2019, Berger and his cronies have refused to pass Medicaid expansion even though it is highly favored in this state.

There’s also a graphic with links about how past budgets have raised teacher pay.

teacherpay4

Remember, that’s an “average” teacher raise heavily given to the lower rungs of the salary schedule. Even Tim Moore said it.

Moore said that previous pay plans focused on teachers earlier in their careers because lawmakers were hearing from the state Department of Public Instruction that those were the ones most likely to leave their jobs. Now, things have changed, he said.

“Now we want to go back and do more for our veteran teachers,” said Moore. 

What change was he referring to? Veterans leaving the profession at a higher rate? Makes one wonder why.

A success story? Not really. It’s legisplaining in eduspeak.

Listen to teachers. They know what is really happening.