This Was Supposed to Make The Teaching Profession More Inviting in NC According the NCGA (From 2014)

Rather than discourage teachers from remaining in the profession, the quick route to top pay will lure more teachers into the profession, which some say is not happening now because it takes too long to get maximum pay, Tillman said.

The above is in reference to Sen. Jerry Tillman comments on an initiative for teachers to “sell” their tenure for more money. It also is making reference to the new (at that time) pay scale that had teachers topping out in their salary by the 15th year of their careers.

It comes from an article by the Carolina Journal which is a publication of the John Locke Foundation which has championed many of the educational reforms that really have had a negative effect on public schools.

Remember that in the years under control by people like Jerry Tillman and Phil Berger, career status has been taken away, longevity pay taken away, advanced degree pay has been taken away, and salary scales manipulated.

All to make it “more inviting to be a teacher in NC? Or as Tillman says “lure” more in.

That article is worth reading to see how horribly wrong those policies are.

Why? Because this is what is happening to the profession in NC.

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 Thanks to Justin Parmenter for the graphs.

 

 

Advanced Degree Pay, Longevity Pay, and Local Supplements: What’s Really Happening Under Berger’s Watch

The way that NCGA leaders (primarily Sen. Phil Berger) have spun the narrative of advanced degree pay, longevity pay, and local supplements is more than disgraceful.

It’s flat-out egregious.

The GOP-led NC legislature decided in 2013 to end graduate degree pay bumps for new teachers entering the teaching profession. This is what Phil Berger said about those “pay bumps” this past week in his most recent interview with WFMY:

“Having an advanced degree does not make you a better teacher. We took the money we would have spent on masters pay and plugged it in to teacher raises.”

Add to that “investment” back into teacher salaries the fact that “longevity pay” was eliminated in 2013 as well under the guise of putting it into the actual salary scale for teachers.

From the summer session of 2013:

SECTION 9.1.(d) In lieu of providing annual longevity payments to teachers paid
on this salary schedule for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and subsequent fiscal years, the amounts of those longevity payments are built into this salary schedule.

So according to this, both advanced degree pay and longevity are still “there” for teachers except that it has been put back into the pool and re-disbursed into overall teacher salaries. Remember this from a few days ago?

berger1Berger2berger3

A pay raise financed a lot with the money that would have been used for advanced degree pay and longevity pay. No wonder the veteran teacher in North Carolina will become a more endangered “species” in the years to come.

It makes this table compiled by John deVille, NC public school activist and veteran teacher who has chronicled the various changes in educational policy for years. He tracked the recent teacher pay “increases” and used DATA-DRIVEN logic to show this.

teacherpay2019

Now, add to the mix the issue of local supplements.

Well, a local supplement is an additional amount of money that a local district may apply on top the state’s salary to help attract teachers to come and stay in a particular district. While people may be fixated on actual state salary schedule, a local supplement has more of a direct effect on the way a district can attract and retain teachers, especially in this legislative climate.

But while Berger & Co. do not in any way finance local supplements, they more than gladly use the numbers to help bolster the average teacher salary in North Carolina for spinning purposes because that “average” is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements.

Plus, those LEA’s will have to do something in the next few years to raise even more money to meet the requirements of the delayed class size mandate, facilities, and other initiatives like the municipal charter school bill.

So, advanced degree pay was “reinvested.” Longevity was “put into your salary.” And local supplements which will be threatened because of state mandates are gladly used to help spin a narrative on average teacher salaries.

Hmm.

 

 

According to Sen. Hise, What This Poll Really Says is That There Are a Lot of “Stupid Folks” in This State

In a press release sent out by Sen. Phil Berger’s office a couple of days ago, Berger included a couple of quotes by Sen. Ralph Hise who unsurprisingly offered a very pointed view of teachers.

In a post yesterday, this blog took aim and responded to two of the points that Hise made, particularly about the NCAE pushing a “nanny-state” and offering a cursory explanation of the “welcome-mat effect.”

But there is something else in what Hise stated that needs to be rebutted. It’s in this screenshot.

hise3

He said, “If they think they can continue to push these clearly left-wing ideas while only protesting Republicans and still have people accept that they are a nonpartisan organization, then they must think folks in this state are pretty stupid.”

And then this comes out today – a poll measuring the pulse of how North Carolinians feel about the upcoming teacher march.

polling.png

Greg Childress of NC Policy Watch broke down the results.

Forty-four percent of voters polled said they are Democrats while 35 percent said they are Republicans. Another 21 percent identified as other. The poll was conducted April 10-12.

Eighty-five percent of voters who identified themselves as Democrats strongly support or somewhat support the May 1 march in Raleigh. And 55 percent of those who said they are Republicans strongly support or somewhat support the march.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of voters who identified as other strongly support or somewhat support the teacher’s march.

When voters were asked if they approve or disapprove of the job the Republican-led General Assembly is doing when it comes to education, only 33 percent of voters approved. Forty-nine percent disapproved and 18 percent were not sure.

Gov. Roy Cooper fared better when asked about his job performance around education. Fifty-one percent of voters said they approve of the job Cooper is doing compared to 35 percent who did not. Fourteen percent were not sure.

The poll’s other findings include:

  • Sixty-nine percent (including 62 percent of Republicans) believe North Carolina teacher salaries are too low.
  • Seventy-seven percent (including 65 percent of Republicans) support providing enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national standards.
  • Seventy-one percent (including 56 percent of Republicans) support raising the minimum wage for school support employees like bus drivers, cafeteria workers and teacher assistants.
  • Sixty-three percent (including 45 percent of Republicans) support raising state income taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent in order to increase public education funding.

Apparently, according to Hise’s perspective, there are a lot of stupid people in North Carolina.

Just Remember, This is What Phil Berger and His Cronies Have Done to NC’s Public School System Since 2011

When the GOP won control of both houses in the North Carolina General Assembly in the elections of 2010, it was the first time that the Republicans had that sort of power since 1896. Add to that the election of Pat McCrory as governor in 2012, and the GOP has been able to run through multiple pieces of legislation that have literally changed a once progressive state into one of regression. From the Voter ID law to HB2 to fast tracking fracking to neglecting coal ash pools, the powers that-now-be have furthered an agenda that has simply been exclusionary, discriminatory, and narrow-minded.

And nowhere is that more evident than the treatment of public education.

Make no mistake. The GOP-led General Assembly has been using a deliberate playbook that other states have seen implemented in various ways. Look at Ohio and New Orleans and their for-profit charter school implementation. Look at New York State and the Opt-Out Movement against standardized testing.  Look at Florida and its Jeb Bush school grading system. In fact, look anywhere in the country and you will see a variety of “reform” movements that are not really meant to “reform” public schools, but rather re-form public schools in an image of a profit making enterprise that excludes the very students, teachers, and communities that rely on the public schools to help as the Rev. William Barber would say “create the public.”

North Carolina’s situation may be no different than what other states are experiencing, but how our politicians have proceeded in their attempt to dismantle public education is worth exploring.

Specifically, the last seven-year period in North Carolina has been a calculated attempt at undermining public schools with over twenty different actions that have been deliberately crafted and executed along three different fronts: actions against teachers, actions against public schools, and actions to deceive the public.

Actions Against Teachers

  1. Teacher Pay – With all of the talk that the current NCGA has used in claiming that teacher pay has gone up over the last several years at historic rates, NC TEACHERS ARE STILL 16% BEHIND THE NATIONAL AVERAGE.
  2. Removal of due-process rights – One of the first items that the GOP controlled General Assembly attempted to pass was the removal of due-process right for all teachers. Thanks to NCAE, the courts decided that it would be a breach of contract for veteran teachers who had already obtained career-status. But that did not cover newer teachers who will not have the chance to gain career status and receive due process rights.What gets lost in the conversation with the public is that due-process rights are a protective measure for students and schools. Teachers need to know that they can speak up against harsh conditions or bad policies without repercussions. Teachers who are not protected by due-process will not be as willing to speak out because of fear.
  1. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed – Because advanced degree pay is abolished, many potential teachers will never enter the field because that is the only way to receive a sizable salary increase to help raise a family or afford to stay in the profession. It also cripples graduate programs in the state university system because obtaining a graduate degree for new teachers would place not only more debt on teachers, but there is no monetary reward to actually getting it.
  2. The Top 25% to receive bonus – One measure that was eventually taken off the table was that each district was to choose 25% of its teachers to be eligible to receive a bonus if they were willing to give up their career status which is commonly known as tenure. Simply put, it was hush money to keep veteran teachers from speaking out when schools and students needed it. To remove “tenure” is to remove the ability for a teacher to fight wrongful termination. In a Right-To-Work state, due process rights are the only protection against wrongful termination when teachers advocate for schools, like the teacher who is writing this very piece.
  3. Push for Merit Pay and Bonus Pay – 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? Those legislators who push for merit pay and bonus pay do not see effective public schools as collaborative communities, but as 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.
  1. “Average” Raises – In the long session of 2014, the NC General Assembly raised salaries for teachers in certain experience brackets that allowed them to say that an “average” salary for teachers was increased by over 7%. They called it a “historic raise.” However, if you divided the amount of money used in these “historic” raises by the number of teachers who “received” them, it would probably amount to about $270 per teacher.That historic raise was funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Similar to an annual bonus, this is something that all state employees in North Carolina — except, now, for teachers — gain as a reward for continued service. The budget rolled that money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise. That’s like me stealing money out of your wallet and then presenting it to you as a gift.
  1. Health Insurance and Benefits – Simply put, health benefits are requiring more out-of-pocket expenditures, higher deductibles, and fewer benefits. Legislation has also taken away retirement health benefits for those who enter the profession now.
  2. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE) – Seen as a union and therefore must be destroyed, the North Carolina Association of Educators has been incredibly instrumental in bringing unconstitutional legislation to light and carrying out legal battles to help public schools. In the last few years, the automatic deduction of paychecks to pay dues to NCAE was disallowed by the General Assembly, creating a logistical hurdle for people and the NCAE to properly transfer funds for membership.
  3. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests – Like other states, we have too many. In my years as a North Carolina teacher (1997-1999, 2005-2015), I have endured the Standard Course of Study, the NC ABC’s, AYP’s, and Common Core. Each initiative has been replaced by a supposedly better curricular path that allegedly makes all previous curriculum standards inferior and obsolete. And with each of these initiatives comes new tests that are graded differently than previous ones and are “converted” into data points to rank student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Such a revolving door makes the ability to measure data historically absolutely ridiculous.

Actions Against Schools

  1. Reorganization and a Weakening of the Department of Public Instruction – It all started with HB17 that was “passed” in a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly after the 2016 elections and before the new terms began. That bill gave the office of the state superintendent more power over the public school system than any previous state superintendent had and removed part of the checks and balances that the state board of education provided. After a reorganization of DPI and a layoff of many positions, two of the five most important positions that directly report to Mark Johnson have ties to a charter school chain whose owner makes plenty of direct political contributions to people in the NCGA who prop up Johnson.
  1. Less Money Spent per Pupil – The argument the GOP-led General Assembly has made repeatedly is that they are spending more on public education now than ever before. And they are correct. We do spend more total money now than before the recession hit. But that is a simplified and spun claim because North Carolina has had a tremendous population increase and the need to educate more students. Let me use an analogy. Say in 2008, a school district had 1000 students in its school system and spent 10 million dollars in its budget to educate them. That’s a 10,000 per pupil expenditure. Now in 2015, that same district has 1500 students and the school system is spending 11.5 million to educate them. According to Raleigh’s claims, that district is spending more total dollars now than in 2008 on education, but the per-pupil expenditure has gone down significantly to over 2300 dollars per student or 23 percent.
  1. Remove Caps on Class Sizes – There is a suggested formula in allotting teachers to schools based on the number of students per class, but that cap was removed. House Bill 112 allowed the state to remove class size requirements while still allowing monies from the state to be allocated based on the suggested formula. Some districts have taken to move away from the 6/7 period day to block scheduling. Take my own district for example, the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools. When I started ten years ago, I taught five classes with a cap of 30 students. With the block system in place, I now teach six classes in a school year with no cap. The math is simple: more students per teacher.
  1. Amorphous Terms – North Carolina uses a lot of amorphous terms like “student test scores”, “student achievement”, and “graduation rates”, all of which are among the most nebulous terms in public education today.When speaking of “test scores”, we need to agree about which test scores we are referring to and if they have relevance to the actual curriculum. Since the early 2000’s we have endured No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top initiatives that have flooded our public schools with mandatory testing that never really precisely showed how “students achieved.” It almost boggles the mind to see how much instructional time is lost just administering local tests to see how students may perform on state tests that may be declared invalid with new education initiatives. Even as I write, most states are debating on how they may or may not leave behind the Common Core Standards and replace them with their own. Know what that means? Yep. More tests.

    “Graduation rate” might be one of the most constantly redefined terms in public schools. Does it mean how many students graduate in four years? Five years? At least finish a GED program or a diploma in a community college? Actually, it depends on whom you ask and when you ask. But with the NC State Board of Education’s decision to go to a ten-point grading scale in all high schools instead of the seven-point scale used in many districts, the odds of students passing courses dramatically increased because the bar to pass was set lower.

  1. Jeb Bush School Grading System – This letter grading system used by the state literally shows how poverty in our state affects student achievement. What the state proved with this grading system is that it is ignoring the very students who need the most help — not just in the classroom, but with basic needs such as early childhood programs and health-care accessibility. These performance grades also show that schools with smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction are more successful, a fact that lawmakers willfully ignore when it comes to funding our schools to avoid overcrowding.
  2. Cutting Teacher Assistants – Sen. Tom Apodaca said when this legislation was introduced, “We always believe that having a classroom teacher in a classroom is the most important thing we can do. Reducing class sizes, we feel, will give us better results for the students.” The irony in this statement is glaring. Fewer teacher assistants for early grades especially limit what can be accomplished when teachers are facing more cuts in resources and more students in each classroom. In fact, NC has lost nearly 7500 teacher assistant jobs in the last ten years.

Actions To Deceive The Public

  1. Opportunity Grants – Opportunity Grant legislation is like the trophy in the case for the GOP establishment in Raleigh. It is a symbol of “their” commitment to school choice for low-income families. But that claim is nothing but a red-herring. Simply put, it is a voucher system that actually leaves low-income families without many choices because most private schools which have good track records have too-high tuition rates and do not bus students. Furthermore, the number of private schools receiving monies from the Opportunity Grants who identify themselves as religiously affiliated is well over 80 percent according to the NC State Educational Assistance Authority. Those religious schools are not tested the way public schools are and do not have the oversight that public schools have. Furthermore, it allows tax dollars to go to entities that already receive monetary benefits because they are tax free churches.
  1. Charter Schools – Charter school growth in North Carolina has been aided by the fact that many of the legislators who have created a favorable environment for charter benefit somehow, someway from them. Many charters abuse the lack of oversight and financial cloudiness and simply do not benefit students. Especially in rural areas, uncontrolled charter school growth has been detrimental to local public schools. When small school districts lose numbers of students to charter schools, they also lose the ability to petition for adequate funds in the system that NC uses to finance schools ; the financial impact can be overwhelming.
  1. Virtual Charter Schools – There are two virtual charter academies in NC. Both are run by for-profit entities based out of state. While this approach may work for some students who need such avenues, the withdrawal rates of students in privately-run virtual schools in NC are staggering according to the Department of Public Instruction. Both also have rated poorly every year of their existence.
  2. Innovative School Districts – Teach For America Alumnus Rep. Rob Bryan crafted a piece of legislation that was rammed through the General Assembly which will create ASD’s in NC. Most egregious is that it was crafted secretly. Rather than having a public debate about how to best help our “failing” schools with our own proven resources, Rep. Bryan chose to surreptitiously strategize and plan a takeover of schools. ASD’s have not worked in Tennessee. With a name change to ISD, this is the first year of its actually taking over schools – one to be exact.
  3. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges – At last report, teaching candidate percentages in undergraduate programs in the UNC system has fallen by over 30% in the last five years. This is just an indication of the damage done to secure a future generation of teachers here in North Carolina.
  4. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program – Once regarded as a model to recruit the best and brightest to become teachers and stay in North Carolina was abolished because of “cost”. Yes, it was reintistited, but as a shadow of its former self.

Overall, this has been North Carolina’s playbook. And those in power in Raleigh have used it effectively. However, there are some outcomes that do bode well for public school advocates for now and the future.

  • Teachers are beginning to “stay and fight” rather than find other employment.
  • NCAE has been able to win many decisions in the court system.
  • Veteran teachers who still have due-process rights are using them to advocate for schools.

One can only hope that the game changes so that a playbook for returning our public schools back to the public will be implemented.

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About Sen. Hise’s “Nanny -State” Comment and Sen. Berger’s Continued Fear of a Bunch of Teachers Speaking up for Students

If you have not noticed, Sen. Phil Berger released yet another press release attempting to attack the May 1st teacher rally in Raleigh.

For this veteran teacher, this is the most vociferous that Berger seems to have been concerning an action taken by educators and public school advocates in quite a while.

It’s really based on fear. If Sen. Berger did not think anything would come of this, then he would not be expending so much energy making this a partisan issue or issuing the same used lines of how he and his cronies have been “helping” public education.

Or maybe he’s scared that the Rev. William Barber will be there in Raleigh on May 1st to speak some truth to power.

The press release today stated the following:

hise1hise2hise3hise4

It is rather ironic that Berger talk about Medicaid when a hospital in his very district had to close because of revenue streams being hurt by not expanding Medicaid. From an WRAL staff editorial on July 14, 2017:

There are plenty of reasons why Morehead, like many rural hospitals across the state and nation, have fallen on hard financial times. But in North Carolina – and Rockingham County in particular – it is neither inaccurate nor unfair to point one finger squarely at the state’s most powerful legislator.

Berger has led the charge to block federally-funded expansion of Medicaid – that would provide health coverage to more than a half-million North Carolinians who don’t have it now. He’s even gone to court to block Gov. Roy Cooper’s efforts to accept the aid and expand health coverage.

Don’t think for a second Berger’s opposition to Medicaid expansion doesn’t have a cost to his community.

In Rockingham County, along with the two rural counties beside it, the Medicaid rejection has meant: 450 fewer jobs created; $171 million less in business activity; and 4,520 people blocked from getting Medicaid. All that is according to the Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynold Charitable Trust’s detailed examination of the financial impact of North Carolina’s failure to accept the federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility.

“It’s a rural hospital, we’re a non-expansion state, we know that in an average rural hospital in North Carolina, 70 percent are Medicaid, Medicare or uninsured,” Julie Henry of the N.C. Hospital Association, told N.C. Health News.

When families are affected, the students in those families are affected.

But what Sen. Hise said about the “nanny-state” is even more head-scratching. Maybe he was referring to one of its definitions that suggests that NCAE wants the state to “coddle” people. Or maybe he wants to make people think that the state is having to take too much care of people.

Taking care of students and protecting them is what teachers do. They do it on an intellectual basis for sure, but the care of a student involves so much more in the school setting.

However, taking Hise at his denotative meaning(“nanny”), wouldn’t it be interesting if teachers were paid the same rates as a nanny for the number of students they care for?

Or maybe even a babysitter?

Actually, there has been a time when teachers were referred to as “unaccountable degree-holding babysitters.”

tim-peck-tweet

So, why not do some math?

Welcome to http://www.care.com/babysitting-rates. It was the first babysitter calculator website that came in a simple Google search. It seems to be a reliable source.

Now, let’s enter in some numbers.

  • For zip code, I used an Asheville code. That’s where the person who tweeted the above resided at the time.
  • For number of children, I put in 4+.
  • For experience, I entered 10+ because I have over 20 years of teaching experience.
  • And hours? I put in 60 a week. Why? That’s how much time I usually put into all the facets of my job.babysit1

The result is $18.00 dollars an hour.

babysit2

But there is more math involved!

At $18.00 an hour for four kids, it would need to be higher because I usually deal with 22-30 kids at a time. Actually, in the past few years my class sizes have averaged over 28 students per class. That’s seven times the amount of kids I have would receive $18.00 an hour for babysitting. Maybe if I just multiplied $18 by 7, then I get an adjusted per hour rate of $126.00 an hour.

Yet, I will give a markdown. Call it the “nanny-state / unaccountable discount.”  Half off. That makes the hourly rate $63.00.

Now, I work on average about 10 hours a school day. Multiplying the new rate ($63.00) by 10 hours and I get a rate of $630 a day. Holy cow!

My contract stipulates that I teach kids 180 days a year. So my new daily rate ($630) multiplied by the number of contracted days my “yearly” haul to babysit would be $113,400 for the school year.

Now one may say, “Hey, you don’t spend all of your ten hours a day directly with students.” And that may be true, but with coaching, sponsoring, duties, and preparing to have things for your students to do while I babysit them, I can pretty much say that I am still actively engaging with the kids.

And this new rate that you seem to propose doesn’t even include weekends and other days that I spend at “daycare” to prepare to take care of kids.

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

The answer is $113,400.

I’ll take it.

And while Sen. Hise is concerned with his version of the “welcome mat effect,” maybe he should look at this – the Iceberg Effect:

iceberg

As a state legislator, he is very much responsible for combating what lies beneath the surface.

Expanding Medicaid would be a step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remind Your School Board, LEA, and Superintendent Why They Should Support ALL OUT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION on May 1st

This NCGA has been passing off the financial burdens more and more onto local school systems.

Think class size chaos. Think of the municipal charter school bill. And consider the fact that local supplements mean so much to LEA’s being able to recruit and keep teachers.

Local supplements come from the local school system. The state just uses the figures to make the average salary of teachers in NC look more impressive for spinning purposes.

Here are the five core issues as dictated by NCAE that are specifically being focused upon for the May 1st event. And each one of these issues directly affects how well local school systems can be of maximum benefit to their communities.

1. Provide enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national professional-to-student standards;

Every superintendent can tell you what the ratio of media specialists, social workers, counsleors, etc. is in their schools. And those numbers are atrocious in every LEA that this blog has looked into around the state because local school systems cannot afford them. But funding these positions to meet national standards should not be a job for the local school systems; it should be the state’s.

2. Provide $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, 5% raise for all ESPs (non-certified staff), teachers, administrators, and a 5% cost of living adjustment for retirees;

Maybe the public should look into what it takes to actually outfit a school and keep a school system working. Bus drivers, aids, etc. are the glue that keeps schools together. Without at least a minimum of 15$ / hour wage, every local school system is having to spend time and money just to keep these positions filled.

And constant turnover costs money. For the local systems.

3. Expand Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families;

When 500,000+ people in the state of North Carolina could have health insurance if North Carolina simply expanded Medicaid as so many other states already have, then you are dealing with a legislative body that is not interested in helping many stay healthy.

Medicaid expansion would be a great step in combating the forces of poverty with which over a fifth of our public school students fight against every day.

Simply put:

  • Students who do not get the basics on a daily basis have a hard time achieving in school.
  • Students who cannot get health care have a hard time achieving in school.
  • Students who worry about loved ones who cannot afford healthcare have an extra burden upon their shoulders when they come to school.

4. Reinstate state retiree health benefits eliminated by the General Assembly in 2017;

Many school districts have severe teacher shortages. The NC State School Board just loosened requirements for out-of-state teachers to come into the state and get reciprocity.

There is a bill to help bring back veteran teachers to teach in Title I and high-poverty areas because they are hard to staff.

Our collegiate schools of education have much lower numbers of teacher candidates because fewer students want to become teachers.

Restoring these benefits for new hires might help alleviate those burdens as it would not only help recruit teachers but keep them until they retire as teachers.

5. Restore advanced degree compensation stripped by the General Assembly in 2013.

If the North Carolina General Assembly thought that abolishing the graduate degree pay increases for teachers is a good policy, then it needs to convince North Carolinians that our state does not need veteran teachers who are seasoned with experience. Teachers who seek graduate degrees in education (and/or National Certification) are themselves making a commitment to pursue careers in public education. When the state refuses to give pay bumps for graduate degrees, then the state just ensured that North Carolina will not have as many veteran, experienced teachers in our schools in the near future. Those teachers will not be able to afford to stay in the profession. Yet, we as a state cannot afford to lose them.

And it would be hard for every LEA to say they did not want veteran teachers.

When teachers go to march like they did last May and will do this May, they go on behalf of students, schools, other educators, communities, and for those who help lead our school systems.

That means in a very direct way teachers march for school boards, superintendents, and local officials.

Because the NCGA is not treating local systems the way they should.

map-for-may-1st_7_orig

Comparing NC Teacher Salaries Now to 2008-2009 – What New Teachers Won’t Get If They Become Veteran Teachers

Below is the salary schedule for a teacher in North Carolina for the 2018-2019 school year.

schedule4

schedule5

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.

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

No, Sen. Berger, Graduate Degrees Do Matter & NC Should Restore Graduate Degree Pay.

The GOP-led NC legislature’s 2013 decision to end graduate degree pay bumps for new teachers entering the teaching profession was not only misguided, but another wave in the assault on public education that continues here in the Old North State.

And the very person who has influenced more policy on public education since 2013, Sen. Phil Berger, continues to shout that graduate degrees for teachers do not have a positive effect in the classroom. In his most recent interview with WFMY, Berger stated,

“Having an advanced degree does not make you a better teacher. We took the money we would have spent on masters pay and plugged it in to teacher raises.”

I confess there exist studies that have shown that advanced degrees do not correlate with higher test scores and/or higher graduation rates. One only has to follow the work of John Hood to glimpse that. His vociferous opposition to paying for advanced degrees is consistent, especially for someone who has never taught or experienced the absolute never-ending flux that educational reforms in NC have placed on schools and teachers.

But in reality, it is rather hard to measure today’s data with historical data when so many variables in measuring schools have been changed so many times in so many ways – usually by non-teachers like Phil Berger.

Since 1990, we as a nation have transitioned from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump (and DeVos); we have survived No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. As a state, we have gone from the Standard Course of Study all the way to Common Core (and its supposed amorphous successor). And we have used several versions of EOCT’s, EOG’s, SAT’s, ACT’s, AP’s, ABC’s, and AYP’s.

The point is that we have employed so many different barometers of learning utilizing various units of measurements that to actually compare current data on student achievement to historical data becomes almost futile. Even the SAT has changed multiple times since I took it in high school.

However, there is one constant in our classrooms that has provided the glue and mortar for public schools since 1990 and well before that: experienced teachers.

If the Phil Berger thinks that abolishing the graduate degree pay increases for teachers is a good policy, then he needs to convince North Carolinians that our state does not need veteran teachers who are seasoned with experience. Teachers who seek graduate degrees in education (and/or National Certification) are themselves making a commitment to pursue careers in public education. When the state refused to give pay bumps for graduate degrees to new hires, then the state ensured that North Carolina will not have as many veteran, experienced teachers in our schools in the near future. Those teachers will not be able to afford to stay in the profession. Yet, we as a state cannot afford to lose them.

Some teachers do not wish to earn graduate degrees simply because of time constraints and financial barriers. Some do not need graduate degrees to feel validated as master teachers, but the choice to further one’s education to advance in a chosen occupation should always remain and be rewarded. And if a teacher believes that it is beneficial to earn an advanced degree, then it can only help the teacher’s performance. Besides, it is an investment made by teachers who wish to remain in the educational field, especially when future veteran teachers here in NC will never make more than $52K a year under current salary schedules.

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And there is actually plenty of research that suggests that graduate degrees do matter.

Timothy Drake from NC State said in the Summary Report of his publication entitled “Examining the Relationship Between Masters Degree Attainment and Student Math and Reading Achievement,”

“…the results in math and English-Language Arts suggest that teachers earning a Masters degree in math or those earning one designated as “In-Area” have higher average student performance in math across both model specifications.

In an article from EdNC.org, Kevin Bastian of UNC’s Education Policy Initiative at Carolina stated,

Recent research from the Education Policy Initiative at Carolina (EPIC) shows that middle and high school mathematics teachers with a graduate degree in mathematics (i.e. an in-area graduate degree) are more effective than peers with an undergraduate degree only. Likewise, in several subject-areas, teachers with a graduate degree in their area of teaching are more effective than they were before earning that degree. These positive results are modest in size but fit with a broader body of research showing benefits to teachers who acquire knowledge and skills in their area of teaching.

Given a primary focus on student achievement, we know less about whether graduate degrees impact other important outcomes. Work in North Carolina — by Helen Ladd and Lucy Sorensen — indicates that middle school students are absent less often when taught by a teacher with a graduate degree. Our own work at EPIC shows that teachers with a graduate degree earn higher evaluation ratings than their peers with an undergraduate degree only. These evaluation results are particularly strong for teachers with an in-area graduate degree.

And teachers who pursue graduate degrees to gain more insight into what they can do in the classroom tend to stay in the classroom if that graduate degree would be rewarded in their salary. Teachers who stay become veteran teachers who gain more and more experience that only enhances school culture and student performance in ways that can never be truly measured.

In a report published in Education Week in March, 2015 entitled “New Studies Find That, for Teachers, Experience Really Does Matter”, Stephen Sawchuck recounted findings by Brown University scholars saying:

 The notion that teachers improve over their first three or so years in the classroom and plateau thereafter is deeply ingrained in K-12 policy discussions, coming up in debate after debate about pay, professional development, and teacher seniority, among other topics.

 But findings from a handful of recently released studies are raising questions about that proposition. In fact, they suggest the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for at least the first decade of his or her career—and likely longer.

 Moreover, teachers’ deepening experience appears to translate into other student benefits as well. One of the new studies, for example, links years on the job to declining rates of student absenteeism.

 Although the studies raise numerous questions for follow-up, the researchers say it may be time to retire the received—and somewhat counterintuitive—wisdom that teachers can’t or don’t improve much after their first few years on the job.

 “For some reason, you hear this all the time, from all sorts of people, Bill Gates on down,” said John P. Papay, an assistant professor of education and economics at Brown University, in Providence, R.I. He is the co-author of one of two new studies on the topic. “But teacher quality is not something that’s fixed. It does develop, and if you’re making a decision about a teacher’s career, you should be looking at that dynamic.”

This reiterates that we need experienced, veteran teachers – many of whom believe that advanced degrees or even national certification are ways to improve their performance in the classrooms. That is not to say that all teachers who have advanced degrees are better than those who do not. I work with many teachers in my school who have earned just a bachelor’s degree and are master teachers who possess traits I wish to emulate.

What many who work on West Jones Street in Raleigh do not mention is that while beginning teachers have seen a big increase in pay, those with more experience have not. That is one major reason we are seeing fewer and fewer teaching candidates in undergraduate education schools here in North Carolina. It is not inviting monetarily to be a teacher for an entire career.

And we need career teachers.

Because advanced degree pay is abolished, many potential teachers will never enter the field because that is the only way to receive a sizable salary increase to help raise a family or afford to stay in the profession. Furthermore, the amount of money it would take to repay the cost of a master’s degree would still take a teacher many years to make on a teacher’s salary, and in most cases that tuition is being paid to public colleges and universities. In essence, many teachers are reinvesting in the very public education system that they serve.

Ironically, not many of those who agree with eliminating graduate degree pay increases argue against that veracity of National Board Certification, which also leads to a pay increase. North Carolina still leads the nation in NBCT’s (National Board Certified Teachers). National certification is defined by a portfolio process which many schools of education emulate in their graduate programs. Additionally, national certification is recognized across the country and its process of validating teacher credentials has rarely been questioned.

But what really seems to be the most incongruous aspect of the argument against graduate degree pay increases is that it totally contradicts the message we send to students in a college and career ready curriculum. If we want students to be life-long learners and contribute to our communities, then where else to better witness that than with our teachers who want to get better at what they do. When students witness a teacher actually going to school (or knowing he/she went back to school), then the impact can be incredible because it means that teachers still “walk the walk” when it comes to furthering an education.

Besides, most all students know that public school teachers do not get into the profession to get rich.

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