10 Intentionally Cruel Ironies About Public Education in NC

  1. North Carolina has had record budget surpluses but refuses to acknowledge the LEANDRO decision that emphatically states that NC has failed to fully fund our public school system for decades.
  2. Teachers fill out a working conditions survey every other year for the state that has no questions about how teachers feel the state handles public education, but Supt. Truitt has a process for a statewide Parent Advisory Committee that allows for individual input.
  3. SAS releases EVAAS scores for a current class well after the school year has begun. In the case for high school block classes, these EVAAS scores come nearer to the end of the semester than at the beginning.
  4. Most of the exams for fall semesters take place after the winter break.
  5. The NCGA has taken away graduate degree pay, longevity pay, and due-process rights and called them reforms to strengthen the teacher pipeline.
  6. Failed initiatives like NC’s virtual charter schools and the Read to Achieve program get added funding and more support when data shows they are failing miserably.
  7. North Carolina is #1 in the country for businesses, but is near the bottom in public education funding.
  8. Leaders in the NCGA boasted an average teacher salary of over $54,000 in 2021-2022 when they released a salary schedule could never sustain that average.
  9. The School Performance Grading system does a better job of showing how poverty affects student achievement than it does showing how teachers help students grow.
  10. North Carolina has more NBCT’s than any other state, has arguably one of the better public university systems in the nation, and has a plethora of quality private institutions that offer teacher training, but the state has a manufactured teacher shortage.

Hold Them Harmless! About That Absolutely Horrible NC Principal Pay System.

It was so bad when it was first constructed that it had to be placed on hold.

Remember it was a creation of BEST NC, the business lobbying firm that is housed on the campus of SAS, the company that brought us EVAAS and is owned by Jim Goodnight, a major campaign contributor to GOP candidates on the state level.

So bad it was that Brenda Berg of BEST NC had to write an open defense of the plan in 2017.

BEST NC is committed to working with state leaders to build on the state’s new plan and correct unintended consequences. We have consistently advocated that no principal should see a drop in pay as a result of this plan. Since this summer, we have worked in consultation with state associations and educator groups on technical corrections to ensure that no principal sees a loss in pay this year, and to create greater stability for all principals by extending the provision into future years. Going forward, we are also committed to refining the plan to increase incentives for great leaders to serve in struggling schools; and to continuing to increase North Carolina’s investment in school leaders overall.

At that time, principal pay in NC was abysmal, but so badly conceived was this plan to link principal pay to achievement scores in a state that relied so much on SAS’s secret algorithm to “measure” an educator’s worth that the pre-pandemic, GOP-dominated, stingy NCGA held principals harmless.

Then this from the past week:

Now principals are going to have their pay altered based on ONE YEAR OF EVAAS DATA?

Five years after its inception, the state is now going to put this horrible plan into action in a year where public education is suffering from record vacancies and we are just coming out of the pandemic.

Oh, and since that 2017 op-ed mentioned earlier, the state has been told by the courts that it is not fully funding public education (LEANDRO) and we have a surplus built on the backs of taxpayers being used to fuel a narrative that we need to create more tax breaks for businesses in NC.

So, where is that business lobbying firm called BEST NC on this issue now? Maybe, they haven’t heard because they are too busy pushing this:

Are You Effing Kidding Me, Supt. Truitt?

If you are a teacher in NC’s public schools with more than five years experience teaching our students, you should have been incredibly offended by the words offered yesterday by State Superintendent Catherine Truitt on the new teacher licensure and pay proposal.

First of all, the title already tells you that Truitt’c claim that the new plan is not based on merit pay actually is a plan based on … wait… merit pay. When SAS (the creator of EVAAS) is part of the equation in the only state that measures achievement well over growth in school performance grades, paying teachers based on performance is nothing more than merit pay.

Call it “differentiated pay,” “performance pay,” “bonus pay,” or “outcome-based pay” it still is nothing more than “merit pay.”

But the contents of the report overshadow the hypocrisy of the title. Consider this part near the beginning of Hui’s article:

“Willing to take on additional duties?” Where is the time? And tell me a teacher who has been through the last few years with a pandemic going on that already did not have those extra duties in a state that has a legal decision (LEANDRO) stating that NC has not been funding public education adequately for decades. Class size caps have been removed for years and salaries still lag behind national averages by great lengths.

And that “encourage enough teachers to enter or stay in the profession” bit? Just this past March, Truitt said something that totally seems contradictory when she wrote that “attrition rates” in our teaching force have been relatively stable.

From that EdNC.org perspective:

“The results: remarkable stability. Overall, North Carolina teacher attrition increased from 7.5% to 8.2%. Of the 94,328 teachers employed by the state, 624 more left the teaching profession than the year before. In fact, dissatisfaction within the teaching profession fell 35% from the prior year, with 137 teachers in the 2019-20 year versus 89 in 2020-21.”

So in the last four to five months, teacher dissatisfaction just ballooned? Could be how they feel about DPI’s leadership or the new teacher pay plan?

Back to the N&O article.

“Enrollment in our colleges of education has fallen over the last few years?” Wow! They just noticed? Maybe look at reversing these actions first because that’s what has led to that “fall.”

Here’s another blurb:

Experience is not a priority for them?” Maybe ask that of parents with students in public schools. But wait, part of the very plan of the people Truitt really serves is to get rid of as many veteran teachers as possible. Saves money. Keeps people from advocating loudly. Less retirement money to be spent. Creates need for “school choice.”

All those “good” things.

But here is the part that might be the most egregious:

Legacy thinking?” “The past?” That’s odd coming from someone who literally is part of that legacy and a spokesperson /advisor for the people who so crafted the past that made this “present” so unstable for the profession that we have to move “toward solutions to address the future.”

In 2016, then McCrory education advisor Catherine Truitt penned this perspective in EdNC.org.

In that op-ed, Truitt said the following”

“The truth is, total K-12 funding has increased each year of Gov. McCrory’s administration and North Carolina now spends 57 percent of its state budget on education, far higher than the national state average of 46 percent.”

What she didn’t say in that perspective was that NC’s constitution stipulates that the state mainly finances public education. Actually that percentage has been even higher prior to Truitt’s time in office. Since most of the state funding goes to salaries of certified and classified employees, the fact the percentage of funds from the state is not higher than it was in years past is indicative of the stagnated salaries NC gives to teachers and assistants. With the elimination of funds for professional development and the cutting numbers of teaching assistants, how could she brag about the level of money spent on public schooling?

“Teacher salary raises enacted in 2014 reversed the pay freezes that were enacted under Gov. Beverly Perdue shortly after she took office in 2009. In fact, the 7 percent increase in average teacher salary between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years was the largest teacher pay raise in the entire nation.”

First, Perdue had to navigate through the Great Recession. Second, she used that word “average.” Beginning teachers saw an average pay hike of over ten percent, yet the more years a teacher had, the less of a “raise” was given. The result was an AVERAGE hike of 6.9 percent, but it was not an even distribution. In fact, some veterans saw a reduction in annual pay because much of the “raise” was funded with what used to be longevity pay.

If the pay got to be so great under Truitt’s former boss, then why is it even more of an issue now?

“The budget he signed provides funds to reduce class size in first grade to one teacher per 16 students by 2016-17. He also signed legislation that will dramatically increase access to summer reading camps to ensure every student achieves the needed literacy by third grade.”

Does she really want to talk about class size now?

“In 2014, the governor increased choice for low income parents by enacting the Opportunity Scholarship that provides financial assistance for alternative schooling for students who are not succeeding in a traditional school setting.”

If she thought that it was necessary for funds to be given to people to get them a good education, then why not have invested that very money in the very public schools she was constitutionally supposed to support to help those very students succeed in their public schools?

And look at how much more we as a state are giving to that unregulated voucher system.

What a legacy, Supt. Truitt.

What an effing legacy.

           

For Any Teachers Who Went Through LETRS Training, You Should Be A Little Pi**ed About This.

What the veteran education reporter Ann Doss Helms with WFAE did yesterday was proof that the value of great journalism cannot be measured – much like the value of a teacher.

When State Superintendent Catherine Truitt presented on elementary reading scores to a House Select Education Committee, she misrepresented the data seemingly giving more credit to the LTERS program that it actually deserved.

From WFAE:

Truitt presented a slide that purported to show dramatic increases in end-of-year reading scores for kindergarteners and first-graders between 2019 and 2022.

“We are really excited to share with you for the first time that preliminary end-of-year data for kindergarten and first-graders show that North Carolina is moving quicker than the rest of the nation in its early literacy recovery,” she said.

from the North Carolina Department Of Public Instruction

This incorrect chart was presented to a House panel, and corrected afterward when WFAE asked questions.

Aside from that comment on having cake, remember that Torbett is the chair of that committee, one that is doing some interesting work for the NCGA in an attempt to maybe avoid having to adhere to the LEANDRO decision. Torbett also was a chief sponsor of HB1173 which seeks to make the state super that chair of the State Board of Education.

But Ann Doss Helms saw something that both DPI and that committee never bothered to flush out.

WFAE asked the Department of Public Instruction to provide the source of the data and explain any changes that might account for the state and national bump. Communications Chief Blair Rhodes initially said the 2019 data came from DPI and the 2022 preliminary data was from Amplify.

Look closely at the following part of Helms’s report.

Remember the iStation debacle from the haunted Mark Johnson administration?

And have you ever talked to a teacher who had to come back from a pandemic, go into schools where students were trying to get their academic, social, emotional, and mental feet back under them all while having to endure erratically scheduled professional development that sucked hours our of a school year just to get it done?

Then you know what sacrifices they made on top of what should have been asked of them in that school year.

Truitt wanted to get credit for her LETRS initiative.

What really happened was that teachers were educating students effectively in harsh conditions doing the work that this state refuses to respect them for despite what DPI and the NCGA were selfishly doing.

That’s the slap in the face to all educators, especially those who had to do LETRS training on their own personal time.

And it’s part of why we as a state are in this situation:

Remember “Bonds For The Win” Or “Law & Order: SBM” (School Board Meeting)?

For my school system, it was almost six months ago.

In the two years since this pandemic had altered the reality for communities and our schools, no place had seen as much vitriol spewed as the rooms that hold school board meetings. As mask mandates were being lifted and rates of transmission waning and vaccinations rising, it seemed there should be some relief being felt.

In actuality, this junction became another launching pad for misplaced anger.

During a February 2022 WSFCS School Board meeting, a man who was part of a bigger concert of people approached the members without invitation to present a large box of documents. He was attempting to “serve” papers.

From Fox 8 News:

From the next morning’s Winston-Salem Journal:

The board’s meeting on the mandate veered quickly from contentious to unruly when a man crossed over a roped area where board members sit and was escorted from the room by security as some members in the audience jeered.

As the man continued to shout, causing disruption in the board chamber, Board Chairwoman Deanna Kaplan was forced to call for a five-minute recess in an effort to restore order. That upset some people in the audience, with one man yelling: “The patriots are coming!”

Another phrase that was heard in that meeting was “Bonds for the Win.”

“Bonds for the Win” was (maybe still is) an organization that attempted to file baseless claims against school district insurance policies in hopes of bullying them into submitting to the group’s will. All of this under the veneer of “saving the students.”

NBC.com ran an interesting expose of the group.

But the scare tactic has become a familiar one. A growing number of school districts across the country are facing similar challenges from parent activists who have adopted strategies and language that are well known to law enforcement and extremism experts who deal with far-right “sovereign citizen” groups in the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League call it “paper terrorism.”

The parents’ strategy is simple: Try to use obscure and often inapplicable legal claims to force a school district to make a policy change. And while the claims have no legal standing, they have been effective at spreading confusion and wasting school districts’ resources, even though the paperwork doesn’t require a formal legal response.

The parents and activists have organized through a new group called Bonds for the Win, which is named for a financial instrument at the heart of the pseudo-legal effort. The group’s members have spent the past two months bombarding school administrators with meritless claims over Covid policies and diversity initiatives. These claims allege that districts have broken the law and therefore owe parents money through what are called surety bonds, which government agencies often carry as liability insurance.

That’s exactly what happened that night in this school board meeting.

Bonds for the Win’s claims were not legitimate, according to education officials, insurance companies and the FBI. But even though the group had won no legal battles, it had already celebrated some successes in overwhelming districts with paperwork, intimidating local officials and disrupting school board meetings. 

Add the CRT hoaxes, book banning efforts, and claims of indoctrination in schools and marry all of them to the already polarized political situation in our country and you get what happened last night occurring all over the country.

Here’s another angle on that “legal tactic” attempted last night.

Imagine what this is teaching our students.

AND SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD SEATS IN NOVEMBER.

Want To Know Who Is To Blame For What Ails Public Education? IT’S NOT TEACHERS OR ADMINISTRATORS.

Think of all of the factors that affect how well public schools can operate.

Now take all of those factors and divide them up by who is responsible for them: elected officials and teachers.

Here is the distribution:

Actually there is one under the teachers column.

If you want to blame teachers for the current status of public education, then you are blaming the wrong people. If anything, teachers and other educators in our public schools are the ones keeping our schools working.

10 Years Of Deliberate Actions On Public Education – So How Many Vacancies Does You System Have?

Tomorrow is the first day of the month of August.

Athletic teams will be starting practices.

Teachers will be going back in a couple of weeks for preplanning.

Students will start class before September.

So, how many vacancies do you have in your school? Your system?

If it seems like a lot, remember that it is deliberate.

NC’s GOP Lawmakers Need To Openly Oppose Phil Berger For The Sake Of Public Schools

This week over 50 business leaders filed a statement urging the NC Supreme to back a judge’s order to fund the Leandro plan.

Here’s a link to that amicus brief.

And that’s good. But they could have done it earlier.

What’s even more egregious is that no lawmakers within Berger’s own political party have never raised voices in the public ear for the sake of public schools.

In the past ten years, Sen. Phil Berger has spearheaded as many attacks against public schools and the people who work in them as any lawmaker in the country.

1. Teacher 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. Reorganization and a Weakening of the Department of Public Instruction 

10. Less Money Spent per Pupil When Adjusted For Inflation

11. Remove Caps on Class Sizes 

12. School Grading System 

13. Cutting Teacher Assistants 

14. Read to Achieve 

15. Educational Savings Accounts 

16. Opportunity Grants 

17. Charter Schools 

18. Innovative School Districts 

19. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges 

20. Elimination & Reinventing of Teaching Fellows Program 

21. Frozen Salaries For Years 15-24

22. Ignorance of LEANDRO Decision

23. Budget Taking Three Years To Pass

Can’t remember when a lawmaker in the NC GOP publicly spoke against what Phil Berger has done to public education in North Carolina. And despite what they may claim in private, when they had a chance to publicly tell North Carolinians that they would work for public schools, they did not go against Senator Phil Berger.

On behalf of the kids.

That’s complicity.

Remember When The Lt. Gov. Of NC Created A Personal Finance Class Requirement? Well…

From 2019:

The NC Senate passed HB 924 by an overwhelming majority. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in one of his rare statements about actual public education other than bathrooms and his love for charter schools tweeted the following:

forest1

Fast forward three years and the man sitting in the same office as Lt. Gov. and member of the State Board of Education…

From that WRAL.com report:

Maybe he was too busy still trying to find things that do not exist.

50 Business Leaders Support LEANDRO. It’s 2022. Where Was This Support In 2004? 1997? 1994?

Apparently, over 50 business leaders filed a statement urging the NC Supreme to back a judge’s order to fund the Leandro plan.

And that’s good.

Here’s a twitter feed from Keung Hui, the education reporter from the News & Observer.

Here’s a link to the amicus brief.

A list of the business leaders who signed is at the end of this post. And yes, this is a good move.

In an election year.

But in North Carolina, this lack of fully funding public education has been a decades long situation.

From the News & Observer this past spring:

Where was this amicus brief in 1994?

Where was this amicus brief in 1997?

Where was this amicus brief in 2004?

Where was this amicus brief in the 18 years since?

What has happened since then is the lowering of corporate taxes and the stagnation of per pupil expenditure. Lisa Godwin, an NC Teacher of the Year stated this:

It amazes me too. Especially the timing of this “advocacy” brief.

Here’s the list:

Adam Abram

Chairman, James River Group Holdings, Ltd.

Sepi Asefnia

President & CEO, Sepi Engineering, Inc.

Chair, NC Chamber

James Babb

Former President & CEO, Jefferson Pilot Communications

Rye Barcott

Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Double Time Capital

Ronald J. Bernstein

Retired CEO, Liggett Vector Brands

Crandall Bowles

Former Chair & CEO, Springs Industries

Erskine Bowles

Co-Founder, Carousel Capital

President Emeritus, University of North Carolina

Thomas W. Bradshaw, Jr.

Retired Managing Director, Citigroup

Former Chair, NC Citizens for Business & Industry (now NC Chamber)

Former Chair, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce

Former Chair, Public School Forum of North Carolina

John R. Bratton

Director, Wake Stone Corporation

Samuel T. Bratton

CEO and President, Wake Stone Corporation

Theodore D. Bratton

Chairman, Wake Stone Corporation

Jack Clayton

President of Business Strategy, TowneBank

Sue W. Cole

Managing Partner, Sage Leadership & Strategy, LLC

Former Mid-Atlantic CEO, U.S. Trust Company

Sandra Wilcox Conway

Former Manager, Excellence in Education, The First Union Foundation

Peter Conway

Founder (Retired), Trinity Partners

John Cooper

Chair, Mast General Store

Don Curtis

Founder & CEO, Curtis Media Group

Richard L. “Dick” Daugherty

Former Vice President & Senior North Carolina Executive, IBM

Former Chair, NC Citizens for Business & Industry (now NC Chamber)

Emeritus Board of Directors, Research Triangle Park

Charter Board of Directors, Public School Forum of North Carolina

Bert Davis

President, 95 Impact Capital, Inc.

James M. Deal, Jr.

Former Chair, Watauga County Board of Education

Former Chair, Watauga Board of County Commissioners

Former Chair, Board of Trustees, Appalachian State University

Clay Dunnagan

Founder and Manager, Anchor Capital

John Ellison, Jr.

President, The Ellison Company

Frank E. Emory Jr.

EVP, Chief Administrative Officer, Novant Health

Ken Eudy

Founder and Former CEO, Capstrat

Jim Fain

Retired Bank Executive

Former Secretary, North Carolina Department of Commerce

 Anthony Foxx

Former Mayor of Charlotte

Former US Transportation Secretary

Paul Fulton

Former President, Sara Lee Corporation

Former Dean, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Chairman Emeritus, Bassett Furniture Industries

Founder and Chair, Higher Education Works

Hannah Gage

Former Owner, Cape Fear Broadcasting Company

Former Chair, UNC Board of Governors

 Alston Gardner

Managing Director, DGI Capital, LLC

Patti Gillenwater

President and CEO, Elinvar Leadership Solutions

James F. Goodmon

Chair & CEO, Capitol Broadcasting Company

James and Ann Goodnight

SAS Institute

Greg Hatem

Founder & CEO, Empire Properties and Empire Eats

Barnes Hauptfuhrer

Former CEO, Chapter IV Investors, LLC

Former Co-Head, Corporate & Investment Banking, Wachovia Corp.

Melody Riley Johnson

Director, Strategic Accounts, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices

Steven J. Levitas

Senior Vice President, Pinegate Renewables

Elizabeth Martin

Producer, Wild Violet Media, LLC

Easter A. Maynard

Board Chair, Golden Corral Corporation

James H. Maynard

Board Chair/Founder, Investors Management Corporation

Founder, Golden Corral Corporation

Hugh L. McColl, Jr.

Former Chair & CEO, Bank of America

Dr. Bill McNeal

 Author (with Tom Oxholm):

 A School District’s Journey to Excellence:

Lessons From Business and Education

Former Superintendent, Wake County Schools

National Superintendent of the Year

Carlton Midyette

 Venture Capital Investor

Thomas B. Oxholm

Executive Vice President, Wake Stone Corporation

Former member, Wake County Board of Education

 Author (with Dr. Bill McNeal):

 A School District’s Journey to Excellence:

Lessons From Business and Education

Roger Perry

Chairman, East West Partners Club Management

Orage Quarles, III

Former President & Publisher, The News & Observer

Co-Founder, Journalism Funding Project

Thomas W. Ross

Chairman of the Board, Bausch & Lomb Company

Director, Bausch Health Companies

President Emeritus, University of North Carolina

Retired Superior Court Judge

Thomas R. Sloan

Founder, Sloan Capital Company

Gordon Smith III

Retired Investment Advisor

Founder and CEO, Wood Pile LLC

Sherwood Smith

Former Chair, NC Citizens for Business & Industry (now NC Chamber)

Former Chair, Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies, RTP

Charter Board Member, Public School Forum of North Carolina

Norris Tolson

Retired Business Executive

CEO & President, Carolinas Gateway Partnership

Former CEO, North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Former Secretary, NC Departments of Commerce, Revenue, and

Transportation

Richard Urquhart

Retired Vice President, Investors Management Corporation

J. Bradley Wilson

President & CEO Emeritus, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina

Former Chair, UNC Board of Governors

David Woronoff

President, The (Southern Pines) Pilot and Business North Carolina

Magazine

Smedes York

Chair, York Properties

Former Mayor, City of Raleigh