111 Miles To Raleigh – The Prophetic Words of a Football Coach

I am convinced that some of the most unsung heroes in our schools are our coaches. They not only teach students inside of classrooms; they teach them outside of classrooms.

Those same coaches take the blame when teams do not win or compete as they are expected to. They deflect credit when teams win.

But they always talk about “team.” They use collective pronouns – “we,” “us,” “our.”

And they motivate preparing students not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and in many cases spiritually.

It happened today. Our girls soccer team was displaced from their home field in a state semifinal game in the state playoffs. Weather canceled two previous scheduled games and field conditions dictated that we go play on a neutral field fifty miles away against a very good team on a different turf.

What does a good coach do? Finds a way to motivate players and keep players focused on the task at hand. That coach finds the obstacles, removes them, and then tells the players to execute. He gets them time on a different surface. He keeps them focused when delays occur. He puts the team in situations where they can learn and prosper.

Sometimes he gets a guest speaker to help motivate them.

So in steps the football coach, a colloquial master who understands that words placed at the right time can be heard for a long time afterwards.

He tells the ladies that it’s about “111.”

“Think about it. 111.”

“It’s 111 miles from here to Raleigh.” Raleigh is the final goal. It’s where one plays for the state championship.

wstoraleigh

If they take care of the business at hand, then they get to travel that 111 miles to play for a ring. No need to be on the home field. The field they were to play on was the same dimensions as the home field with “two small goals on each end.”

“You just got to put the ball in their goal more times.” 11 girls on the field at a time working for just 1 more goal than the other.

Then 111 miles.

And so after a regulation game, two overtime periods, “sudden death,” and penalty kicks these young ladies get to go to Raleigh.

To be accurate, that’s 2 forty-minute halves, 2 ten-minute overtime periods, 2 five-minute sudden death periods, and a non-timed penalty kick session. Let’ call that penalty kick session the last minute.

40+40+10+10+5+5+1 = 111 minutes

Miles from Clemmons to Raleigh = 111

Players on the field at one time = 11 working as 1

In that crowd were the head coaches and assistant coaches of at least 6 different sports to support those ladies. If numbers serve correct, approximately 10% of the teaching faculty was at that game on a night before exams started.

And they would have stayed for another 111 minutes if needed.

I wish some lawmakers in Raleigh could have seen that before they started measuring how good public schools are in their eyes.

But there is one measurement I can surely tell folks in Raleigh is hard and true.

111.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dodgeball – Another Thing Betsy DeVos Is Really Bad At

In defending Donald Trump’s horrific budget proposal today for education on Capitol Hill, Betsy DeVos proved that she had not really learned anything about giving straightforward answers to deservedly pointed questions since her historic confirmation hearing.

The video below is from an exchange with Rep. Katherine Clark of Mass.

It is eye-opening.

Judge for yourself.

 

 

I Would Like to File a Missing Person’s Report For Our State Superintendent of Public Schools

As the North Carolina House readies its release of a budget proposal for the next two fiscal years, it bears repeating that public education is the number one expenditure of the state. That’s not a surprise. According to the state constitution, it is designed to be the top expenditure. In fact, it’s that way for the almost every state in the country.

A couple of weeks ago, the state senate released its budget proposal. It called for a 25% cut in the operating budget for the Department of Public Instruction.

It would make sense that the leader of the public school system in the state be one of the first to speak out about what the General Assembly plans to allocate for schools and the operating body that helps to run the state system.

Be reminded that on Thursday, January 5th, 2017, just days after he took office, Mark Johnson stated the following at his first State Board of Education meeting:

“Every day that we don’t take bold actions for our students is a day that our students lose. Every day that we don’t take bold actions for our teachers is a day that our teachers lose. Complacency is the antithesis of urgency, so I ask that we act with urgency and not be complacent in anything that we do. If we don’t act with urgency, we will continue to betray students and we will continue to lose teachers and have difficulty retaining them and recruiting them.”

The operative word there is “urgency.” Johnson really gives it renewed vigor juxtaposing it with the word “complacency.”

In that same prepared statement, he also said,

“We have a lot of issues and challenges facing us. We have to own them. We have to own that we need to do something about testing. We have to own that there are students graduating from our schools that we are giving diplomas to that are not prepared for college or the workforce. We are the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. It is our job to own those challenges and find solutions. We must be innovative to find solutions.”

In that slice of rhetoric, he identified himself as part of a whole – “we.” And he talked about the “we” being the “Department of Public Instruction.”

So, after more than five months of a “listening tour,” the words “urgency,” “ownership,” and “we” seem to have morphed into something else. A lot can happen in five months, because five months is literally half of a school year.

At this time of the year, we have tests. Students have their “achievement” measured. Schools get “graded.” Teachers get “evaluated” mostly on how people do on these tests – the ones that Mark Johnson says “we need to do something about.”

And we have this budget that literally decimates the very construct he heads – the “we” he so passionately talked about in January.

Actually, this is Mark Johnson’s first test.

And how has he responded?

Take a look at Alex Granados’s article on EdNC.org entitled “Funding cuts to Department of Public Instruction in question” from May 23 (https://www.ednc.org/2017/05/23/25-percent-cut-dpi-maybe-not/).

He reports,

“Meanwhile, while the Senate is asking for a 25 percent cut to DPI and eliminating eight positions outright, it is also spending about $432,000 in recurring dollars to fund five positions that directly report to the State Superintendent — the person that oversees all of the positions in the Department of Public Instruction.

That person, Mark Johnson, was critical of the Department of Public Instruction during last year’s election campaign.

Sounds about as antithetical as “urgency” and “complacency,” does it not?

But here is the telling part.

Attempts to contact Johnson for comment on the Senate’s plans for DPI were unsuccessful. A member of Johnson’s staff said he would be unavailable all week for interviews.

So much for “urgency.”

So much for “we.”

So much for “bold.”

So much for “ownership.”

So much for “action.”

And when the words “unsuccessful” and “unavailable” become associated with the leader of the public school system, then it does not take a lot to figure out how well his test results will be.

But don’t worry. His score will surely be “curved” by those in control in the General Assembly.

have you seen johnson

Something Those Lawmakers in Raleigh Fail to See About Our Schools

I teach in a school of nearly 2400 students and am completing my twelfth year there.

My daughter is about to finish her freshman year. She lets me ride to school with her because it makes me cool. I thank her everyday for that.

Of course I follow our school’s sports teams. It is a source of pride for our school, our community, but more importantly, those are my students out there competing and learning about teamwork and perseverance.

But I also go to games to see other students support their peers, their friends, their siblings, their neighbors, their fellow Titans. And I went to one last night. We won. I looked forward to reading about it in the paper the next day.

My family gets an actual copy of the Winston-Salem Journal every day. It’s our newspaper. Journalism is important to us. It supports the community.

And a particular clause from the lead sports story caught my eye this morning (http://www.journalnow.com/sports/prepzone/west-forsyth-girls-soccer-beats-myers-park-in-ot-advances/article_b8b65ee9-e569-541b-b64e-82f0b738d139.html) :

“who was mobbed on the field after the game by the large student section in attendance” 

The game was a girls soccer game, specifically a fourth round state playoff game against a team that had surrendered only three goals the entire year up to that game and had only lost one time all year.

Aside from the high level of play on the field, the amount of students at the game was amazing.  The cheering, the chanting, the urging, the encouragement. A victory in overtime.

Students jumping on the field to celebrate the accomplishment of a team representing a school.

I wish some folks in Raleigh could have seen that and tried to measure what that could actually mean.

But there was so much more involved.

What if I told you the number of AP tests taken by the ladies on the team that just won a chance to play in the final four of the state?

What if I told you the amount of academic scholarship money the seniors on that team had won already?

What if I told you that some of the students who rushed the field do not even play a sport but are involved in other ways at school that are just as celebrated?

What if I told you that 500 yards away in the Performing Arts Center a dance concert was being performed at the same time that included over 350 students dancing to a sold-out theater of 800 where just as many students were attending supporting their peers and friends as parents and family members?

What if I told you that at that very moment the boys track and field team was literally finishing winning their first ever state championship in Greensboro by the slimmest of margins?

What if I told you that one of the head coaches of the state championship track team is also the head of the art department that consistently has multiple students win gold key awards each year? What if I told you that the other head coach was our school’s teacher of the year? Or that one of the assistant coaches is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow? Or that the other assistant coach works with special needs students?

What if I told you that the head girls soccer coach on the day of the third round playoff game turned in all of his materials for National Board Certification, one of the more rigorous processes a teacher can undergo? His assistant happens to be the AP Calculus teacher and his students just took their exam a few days ago. Some were on that soccer field. The other assistant coach happens to have a son in one of my AP classes.

And earlier that day before the soccer game, I was putting together some background templates for the literary magazine for this year that will include the best art and literary work of our students. And like every other year, that track coach will send me amazing work, except his finger will be heavier with a new ring.

And after I post this, I will read a draft of an article by a student writing for the school newspaper about how Governor’s School has been defunded in the new NC Senate budget. She went to Governor’s School this past summer. She’s also the editor of the school newspaper.

She was also on that soccer field last night.

As a player.

One of two on the team who went to Governor’s School.

And by the way, my daughter was in that dance concert that occurred at the same time as the soccer game.

But I saw it Wednesday. They “packed the house” for three nights in a row.

Measure that Raleigh.

immeasurable

Go Titans.

 

 

What State Superintendent Mark Johnson Said About…

… the North Carolina Senate proposing to cut the operating budget of the Department of Public Instruction by 25 percent.

 

NOTHING

 

…the fact that the state Senate’s budget proposal actually lowers the amount of money spent per pupil in the state.

 

NOTHING

 

 

… the fact that state GOP senators took monies from educational initiaives in rural districts that voted in democrats to the general assembly.

 

NOTHING

 

 

… the fact that the state Senate is defunding Governor’s School.

 

NOTHING

 

The only thing I have heard from Mark Johnson is his message to teachers in a prepared video during Teacher Appreciation Week.

 

When the leader of the public school system in the entire state does not speak out on the very actions that are jeopardizing that system, then that lack of words screams complicity and a lack of willingness to stand up for public schools.

And for a person who entered elected office with word “urgency” flowing from his lips, it would seem that the state superintendent would be the first to speak out on what happened in the General Assembly this week.

 

 

The North Carolina Senate’s Education Budget and The Rise of “Pathologia Boven Excrementum”

NC_General_Assembly

“Frankly, we believe a better use of tax dollars is to move those from an unaccountable bureaucracy and into the classroom where those dollars will actually benefit students.” – Sen. Chad Barefoot, May 17th, 2017 (http://www.wral.com/senate-proposes-cutting-8-state-education-staffers-including-42-year-employee/16707728/).

The above was stated by Barefoot in response to questions as to why the recent NC Senate budget proposal calls for a 25 percent cut to the operating budget for the Department of Public Instruction and the elimination of eight positions in state education offices.

This is also the same budget that actually according to an NEA report is reducing the amount of money our state will spend per student.

“NEA’s report also found that North Carolina is projected to be ranked 43rd in the nation in per-pupil spending. It ranked 42nd last year. North Carolina is projected to spend $8,940 per student, down from $8,955 the prior year” (http://www.wral.com/nc-ranks-35th-in-nation-for-teacher-pay-ranked-41st-last-year/16693105/).

That certainly puts Barefoot’s mantra of “The money should follow the child” into perspective (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/09/23/bill-sets-up-charter-schools-to-receive-funds-for-services-they-dont-provide/).

But of course Barefoot’s explanation is nothing more than a political form of “Pathologia Boven Excrementum” which is a euphemistic way of saying that lawmakers like Barefoot may have reached a point where they truly believe the very lies they continuously spout about prioritizing public education.

Ironic that much of that tax money Barefoot claims to be saving from “unaccountable bureaucracy” to make sure that money “reaches classrooms to benefit students” actually has been tagged by Barefoot and his ilk for other forms of “unaccountable bureaucracy” and will never “reach classrooms to benefit students.”

Consider the Opportunity Grants that have not been shown to increase student achievement in comparable measures for students who use them. Barefoot was a sponsor of Senate Bill 862 that called for more money for those vouchers.

And these voucher are anything but transparent and free from proper oversight. Just read Duke University’s report:  https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/School_Vouchers_NC.pdf. Furthermore, they almost all go exclusively to religious-based schools.

Consider then the new “super-voucher” bill, SB603. Dr. Diane Ravitch, probably the foremost voice in educational history and reform research, even shared reasons why such a bill would be disastrous to public schools – https://dianeravitch.net/2017/05/13/an-urgent-message-to-the-citizens-of-north-carolina/.

She mentions potential for fraud and lack of accountability. It also seems odd that it would alienate children who were not able to get the “super voucher” who remained in traditional public schools that were receiving less money because of the senate’s budget.

Now that’s making sure the money is following the child. Not. It’s just replacing “unaccountable bureaucracy” with “unaccountable reform.”

But Barefoot is no stranger to “unaccountable reform” movements. His championing of the Achievement School District has still not spurred any traction in saving targeted schools.

Maybe another fact to consider when listening to Barefoot’s recent fit of “Pathologia Boven Excrementum” comes when he tries to explain that the eight positions being eliminated were in and of themselves part of the “unaccountable bureaucracy.”

Why? Because the same budget also calls for this:

unnamed2

Actually, this sounds like Barefoot is simply replace “unaccountable bureaucracy” with “bureaucracy loyal to him and his cronies.”

Some of the eight positions that were eliminated in this act of “Pathologia Boven Excrementum” are from the office of the state board of education, the very same people who are fighting against some strange proposals to shift power to the office of the new state superintendent, Mark Johnson in a bill called SB4 that was constructed in a special seesion at the end of the 2016 calendar year to safeguard against a new democrat governor.

Ironic then, that Barefoot talks about ““unaccountable bureaucracy” when another part of the senate budget calls for this:

unnamed1

That’s for Johnson to fight the state board over that power in SB4 on which Barefoot was quoted as saying something about the role of bureaucrats.

Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, said lawmakers created the bill to clarify the constitutional role of the superintendent. “I can tell you from personal experience that the superintendent needs more administrative control over his department” (http://www.wral.com/state-board-of-education-chair-house-bill-17-raises-significant-legal-concerns-/16357128/).

Clarifying a constitutional role? Giving money to a neophyte in education to get more power over public school monies? Slashing the Department of Public Instruction’s budget by a quarter and still lowering per pupil expenditures? Giving more money to unaccountable vouchers? Championing reforms with horrible track records?

And he wants to call it “a better use of tax dollars” because it is supposedly moving money “into the classroom where those dollars will actually benefit students.”

That’s willful display of hogwash, nonsense, crap, rubbish, poppycock, bunk, piffle, drivel, baloney, codswallop, blather, gobbledygook, and prattle.

It’s “Pathologia Boven Excrementum”.

“Suffer the Children” – The Willful Ignorance of the North Carolina Senate

suffer

Matthew 19:14 in the King James Version of the Bible states,

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

It is a verse that combines two very specific words: “suffer” and “children.”

The KJV was produced over 400 years ago under the direction of the monarch who followed Elizabeth I to the throne of England, a woman who ushered a golden age for her country and launched its exploration into the new world patronizing the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh for whom our state named its capital.

Interestingly enough, the word “suffer” in that context means “permit.” Jesus was instructing his disciples to allow the children to come unto him.

In the Raleigh, North Carolina of today the words “suffer” and “children” have been often combined.

Except, “suffer” means something totally different and something totally non Christ-like.

In this modern context, “suffer” means to subject to something bad or painful. And what has been revealed this week in the North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal certainly is adding suffering to many children.

This is the same governing body that refused to expand Medicaid to many low-income families that have children thus negating their access to preventative healthcare.

And while bragging about a state surplus in revenue while “serving” a population where over %20 of the children lives in poverty, the NC Senate proposed the following according to NC Policy Watch’s Brian Kennedy:

As we wrote about last week, the Senate budget seeks to permanently prevent North Carolina from providing food assistance to low-income families with children through a process known as broad-based categorical eligibility (CAT EL).

A special data request to the Department of Health and Human Services finds that eliminating CAT EL would strip food assistance from more than 133,000 low-income North Carolinians, 51,345 of whom are children who will also no longer receive free or reduced cost school lunched.

Thirty-six percent of the households that will lose food assistance have children, 28 percent support elders, and 23 percent are households with disabled persons.

What is most egregious about this provision is that SNAP is completely federally funded. The elimination of CAT El would result in ZERO cost savings to the state (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/05/15/nc-senate-budget-strips-food-assistance-children-families/#sthash.5GQaO9W7.dpuf).

It should also be noted that the same senate budget proposal also LOWERS North Carolina’s ranking in per pupil expenditure from 42nd last year to 43rd this year according to figures reported by WRAL (http://www.wral.com/nc-ranks-35th-in-nation-for-teacher-pay-ranked-41st-last-year/16693105/).

And add to that, there was this as reported by thinkprogress.org’s Lindsay Gibbs:

At 3:07 a.m. on Friday morning, North Carolina Senate GOP leaders rushed through a budget amendment that stripped education funding for teaching assistants and STEM programs in districts led by Democrats, cut funding to provide fresh produce to food deserts, reallocated money that was supposed to go to an arts museum and a downtown revitalization project, and eliminated a position that works to secure federal aid for disaster relief.

It appears the amendment wasn’t passed to achieve specific policy goals though, but rather as an act of political retribution after a prolonged and contentious budget negotiation in the state’s senate (https://thinkprogress.org/north-carolina-senate-gop-targets-children-who-live-in-democratic-districts-37e03adae03d).

So there are actions that affect the health of children. And there are actions that affect the food sources for children. And there are actions that affect the education for children.

That’s a lot of suffering and children, but not the kind of “suffering” Christ seemed to be talking about.

Ironic that many of those same state senators profess Christ as their savior and moral compass.

But professing Christ and acting like Christ can be two completely different things.

 

State Superintendent Johnson, Who Do You Serve?

Dear Supt. Johnson,

I appreciated the words in your video address to teachers thanking us for our work during the National Teacher Appreciation Week. For those who may not have seen that video, here is a link: https://youtu.be/asLHLCxjQ6k.

You talked about how teachers are not thanked enough, and while it is nice to hear those sentiments, the teacher, the public school parent, and the voter in me wants to see something else: action.

Why? Because during this week of “Teacher Appreciation” and polite ceremony, schools in many districts were still struggling to find the necessary resources and having to ask for essential support as the North Carolina General Assembly’s Senate chamber rolled out a budget proposal that did nothing to improve funding for public schools.

In fact, what happened on West Jones Street this “Teacher Appreciation Week” showed how much many in Raleigh do not appreciate what happens in public schools.

And this teacher, parent, voter, and advocate needs to ask you as the chief administrator of public schools, “What are you willing to do?”

First, it is quite disconcerting to not have heard you speak about the proposed cuts to the Department of Public Instruction. Actually, they aren’t really cuts. It’s more of a severing of limbs.

As suggested in the budget proposal, http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S257v2.pdf, there would be a 25 percent cut in operation funds for DPI.

NC Policy Watch’s Billy Ball reported on May 12th, 2017 in “Senate slashes DPI; state Superintendent silent,”

North Carolina’s chief public school administrator may be silent on Senate budget cuts to North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, but the leader of the state’s top school board says the proposal has the potential to deal major harm to poor and low-performing school districts.

“There’s no question about that,” State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey told Policy Watch Thursday. “A 25 percent cut, which I can’t believe will be the result of this process, would cut into very essential services for particularly the rural and poor counties.”

Cobey is referring to the Senate budget’s 25 percent cut in operations funds for the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), a loss of more than $26 million over two years that, strangely, has produced no public reaction from the leader of the department (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/05/12/senate-slashes-dpi-state-superintendent-silent/).

Whether or not you want to give a statement to NC Policy Watch, the fact that you have not openly responded to this is actually quite surprising. And this is happening in a year where the same lawmakers are touting yet another SURPLUS in revenue.

Frankly, your power struggle to obtain authority over segments of public school policy with the state board has pretty much put a lot in limbo as far as crafting what you said in January were “urgent” reforms needed in our education system. Furthermore, those reforms and changes do not seem to have any shape or form in your first 120 days in office.

And it seems to have helped bring about a reduction of the very office that many look to help sustain many needed facets of public education in the state, especially in rural districts – by a fourth!

Some of those very districts were hurt by some late night underhanded partisan backstabbing this past weekend.

Colin Campbell of the News &Observer reported in “At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts” on May 13th,

“The session finally resumed around 3 a.m., and Republican Sen. Brent Jackson introduced a new budget amendment that he explained would fund more pilot programs combating the opioid epidemic. He cited “a great deal of discussion” about the need for more opioid treatment funding.

Jackson didn’t mention where the additional $1 million would come from: directly from education programs in Senate Democrats’ districts and other initiatives the minority party sought” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html#storylink=cpy).

What is your position on that?

Those districts’ schools are your schools. That proposed cut of twenty-five percent to DPI affects your schools. This prolonged lawsuit against members of your own party affects your schools.

Actually, they are our schools. And you were elected to work for our schools.

At the beginning of your term that you stated you would be conducting a “listening tour” for your first few months. I and others are very interested in learning what you have heard and how it may guide your policies.

However, a LOT WAS SAID THIS WEEK in words and actions – budget cuts, falling from 42nd to 43rd in per pupil expenditures, “super-vouchers,” and attacks on programs that help small districts. So, the obvious question might be, “What are you going to do about this?” It appears if you truly appreciated teachers and public schools, it seems that you would be screaming at all of this.

But the real question might be “Who do you serve?”

That same budget which is causing many people to doubt our state’s commitment to public schools also gave you money to do a couple of things. The first concerns a legal fund.

unnamed1

That’s three-hundred thousand dollars to use so you can sue the State Board of Education to get powers as a state superintendent that have never been placed in the hands of the office before. The face of the State Board of Education is the same person who commented above about the cuts to DPI when you did not.

The second is to secure loyalty.

unnamed2

This allows you to have five more people to work for you than the previous state superintendent which is odd considering that the same people who gave you this appropriation and the money to sue your own state board are the very ones who have cut DPI’s operation budget by a quarter.

So I ask again, “Who do you serve?”

Actions say so much.

And in this case a lack of a reaction screams.

Sen. Chad Barefoot’s Bid to End Governor’s School and Establish A Legislative School for Gerrymandered Leadership and Public Policy to Suit Private Interest

An amendment offered by none other than Sen. Chad Barefoot on May 10, 2017 is yet another assault by the North Carolina General Assembly against the arts in our schools.

Amendment #2 to Senate Bill 257 proposes to establish a “Legislative School For Leadership and Public Service” using the very funds that would have financed Governor’s School starting in 2018-2019.

Here is a copy of that amendment found at https://ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2017&DocNum=4282&SeqNum=0.

In short, Chad Barefoot and others of his ilk want to do away with Governor’s School and replace it with a “Legislative School of Leadership and Public Policy.”

Governor’s School has been an institution in this state for over fifty years. Its description on its webpage (www.ncgovschool.org) says,

“IMAGINE … A Summer Program

… where students who are among the best and brightest gather for the love of learning and the joy of creativity

… where teachers and students form a community while searching together for answers to challenging questions

… where there are no grades or tests

… where a synergy of intellectual curiosity fuels the exploration of the latest ideas in various disciplines


This is the Governor’s School of North Carolina . . .
Two campuses. One vision. Over fifty years of experience.

 And the subjects that academically-gifted students can go and study include:

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Math
  • Natural Science
  • Social Science
  • Art
  • Choral Music
  • Instrumental Music
  • Theater
  • Dance

It truly is an institution that has faced termination before but sustained itself because so many found value in what it provides. Yet with the recent events surrounding HB13 and the funding of specialties in elementary schools like art and physical education, it is not totally surprising that Sen. Barefoot launch another attack on opportunities for students to enhance their academic and creative endeavors in the liberal arts.

But he literally wants to replace it with a summer school for leadership and public service that has an “intensive course of study in leadership and public policy.”

Actually, what he seems to want to do is set up a state-funded camp of political indoctrination for another generation of students who will carry on the policies that he has championed on behalf of the powers that be in Raleigh.

Truly this is another slap in the face for those who see value in what Governor’s School has done for our state enriching the lives of talented students who then keep investing themselves in our communities. It is a slap in the face for those who see the value in the liberal arts.

But what really makes this stink of partisan politics is the changing of the name from “Governor’s” to “Legislative.” Whether that’s a snub toward Roy Cooper is up for debate. Well….

Actually it seems pretty clear.

Forget the passive-aggressive nature of not debating the budget and ramming it through committee.

Forget the fact that there are already in existence a multitude of internships, public and private, as well as other funded opportunities for students to become more familiar with public service. In fact, it seems that motivated students already have put themselves in situations to learn leadership and pursue public service.

However, Barefoot and others in Raleigh have an agenda, one which they hope to turn into a curriculum that can be offered at the Legislative School For Leadership and Public Policy.

There could be a class that will teach future leaders to allocate public money that will allow a government official to sue other government officials so that the public school system can be put into limbo for an extended period of time such as this example:

unnamed1

That’s right. Three-hundred thousand dollars to Mark Johnson so he can sue the State Board of Education to get powers that he should have never had in the first place.

The Legislative School for Leadership and Public Policy could also teach academically gifted students to become so partisan that they will begin to budget government positions to create even more bureaucracy. Take for example:

unnamed2

This allows Mark Johnson to have five more people to work for him than the previous state superintendent who seemed to do a lot more in her first months of service than he has – with fewer people working for her.

The cost of just those two provisions? Almost three/quarters of a million dollars, which is more than enough to help fund Governor’s School for another summer session on two campuses.

Sen. Barefoot needs to call it for what it is – A Legislative School for Gerrymandered Leadership and Public Policy to Suit Private Interest.

And if rumor serves true, he already has a person in mind to run the first session:

umbrage

The Hypocritical Time Machine – Reflecting on Sen. Chad Barefoot and Rep. Rob Bryan’s 2014 Op-Ed About Teacher Pay

On February 8th, 2014, the Charlotte Observer posted a special op-ed on its website and published it the next day in the actual paper. It was a viewpoint penned by two political figures whose actions have helped shape the policies that confine public education in North Carolina today.

Those two people were Sen. Chad Barefoot and Rep. Rob Bryan.

Three years later, Sen. Barefoot sits on a powerful education committee. Bryan was defeated in his last election, but his brainchild of reform, North Carolina’s Achievement School District, is still slated to take over five schools in 2018-2019.

In their piece entitled “How to Upgrade Teacher Pay,” both men begin an outline of “reform” that they have spent coloring these last three years.

Maybe it is worth revisiting their words and determining through reflection whether they have made progress on their goals to upgrade teacher pay and other needs for public education.

Or if they have not.

The text of the op-ed can be found here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article9095660.html. However, it will be referenced throughout this posting.

Barefoot and Bryan begin,

“In the book “That Used To Be Us,” Thomas L. Friedman, a liberal columnist for the New York Times, and Michael Mandelbaum, a professor of American foreign policy at John Hopkins University, argue that America has fallen behind in the world it invented. And although many of the book’s proposals have turned out to be stumbling blocks rather than solutions, the authors are right about one thing – we are falling behind in the world we invented – especially in education.”

It must be noted that it was very hard to not simply summarize Barefoot and Bryan’s op-ed by almost using the same exact wording they did. Consider this possibility.

“In the op-ed “How to Upgrade Teacher Pay,” Sen. Chad Barefoot, a conservative state senator, and Rep. Rob Bryan, another state lawmaker, argue that North Carolina has fallen behind in the country. And although many of the op-ed’s claims have turned out to be stumbling blocks rather than solutions, the authors are right about one thing – we are falling behind in the country – especially in teacher pay.”

First, it is interesting that Barefoot and Bryan reference Friedman who actually argued in his book The World is Flat that America still has a lot of vitality in the world economy because it still leads the world in patents and patent applications. That is a sign of innovation and creativity and curiosity, the very skills that students can learn in a variety of classes, especially the arts which seem to be something that Barefoot holds in contempt considering his recent HB13 maneuvers.

Secondly, it is odd that they refer to Friedman and Mandelbaum’s book to begin their own argument. They seem to only agree with one thing about the claims of the book and dismiss the rest. But that is not totally surprising considering that identifying Friedman as a liberal already puts anything that Friedman says in a “false” light.

Carrying on,

“Today, the status quo has become a dangerous position. Technology and industry are changing more quickly than ever, and large government bureaucracy has prevented our public policy from being able to keep up.”

Large government bureaucracy preventing public policy? Really? And who were the two authors of this op-ed? Those would be two people in government who helped to push so much reform down the throats of North Carolina including a law called HB2 which took away local powers of the very city that published the op-ed like passing LGBTQ protections and setting its own minimum wage for work done for the city government.

“We are aware of North Carolina’s national teacher pay ranking and agree that it is a problem. But we would like to argue that behind the low ranking are structural concerns with our statewide base salary schedule that are more significant to individual teachers than our ranking against the national average. Making it our goal to reach the national average in teacher pay is just that – an average goal. What we need is a new salary schedule aligned with a comprehensive vision for the future.”

Now three years later with the abolishment of graduate degree pay bumps for newer teachers, no due-process laws for newer teachers, school grading systems that are more arbitrary, low average per pupil expenditures, uncontrolled charter school growth, unproven vouchers, and a myriad of other “reforms,” it might be worth relooking over those words again because what has happened over the three years since this op-ed has been anything but a “comprehensive vision for the future.”

It’s really been more of an attack on the public school system to justify some of the privatization efforts that the NC General Assembly is allowing to happen.

“Studies show that teachers improve most dramatically during their first five years. But under the current salary schedule, teachers do not see their first step increase until year seven. That means for six years they improve without any reward. This is a problem.”

Which studies? And nothing says that they still do not improve after six years. That argument almost dismisses the worth of veteran teachers. However, it is easy to see that beginning teachers did need to see increases in salaries earlier to remain in the profession. But that’s all the new salary schedule did. Barefoot and Bryan never talk about retaining veteran teachers. The new salary schedule surely does not encourage veteran teachers to stay.

They go on to state,

“The current salary schedule also fails to enable schools to compete in our region. Surrounding states have surpassed North Carolina’s starting salaries, enabling them to recruit our graduates with higher starting pay. Most also increase teachers’ salaries earlier in their career, while under the current salary schedule it can take a North Carolina teacher 16 years to reach $40,000. That’s crazy. This encourages high turnover. It is not attractive.”

What is even crazier is that the new salary schedule that Barefoot and Bryan helped to fashion in these last three years not only does get beginning teachers to the maximum salary more quickly, it creates a lower ceiling for maximum salary.

Once those teachers get to that level in year 16, they may never see another pay bump on the salary schedule.

Ever.

This past election, Pat McCrory ran on the platform of having raised teacher pay to an average of $50,000. He was using very distorted logic. You can read this posting and see if what McCrory claims was real or if it was fake because Barefoot and Bryan are using the same argument (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/07/17/the-ignoramasaurus-rex-how-gov-mccrorys-claim-on-average-teacher-pay-is-not-really-real/).

And like Bryan, McCrory lost his reelection bid.

“We also know that the top indicator of a child’s academic success is having an excellent teacher. But under the current salary schedule our teachers receive no reward for their excellence and taking on more responsibility.”

And under the current system we as a state are seeing a seismic drop in teacher candidates in our university system. In fact, NC’s ability to recruit and retain teachers has gotten so bad even with this new salary schedule that Barefoot and Bryan helped to establish that this past month five bills were introduced in the NCGA which are aimed at getting more teachers to come to North Carolina.

All five of them are sponsored by Sen. Chad Barefoot (http://www.wral.com/barefoot-backs-bills-to-boost-teacher-recruitment/16638866/).

Apparently the new salary structure that was to discourage high turnover and make things more attractive simply did not work.

Then here comes the ethos,

“You see, we were both raised by N.C. educators. Chad’s mom is a former public school teacher who has dedicated her life to early childhood development and currently teaches in our state’s Pre-K program. His younger sister is a second grade teacher in her third year (who has never seen a step increase). Rob’s mom was a public school 4th grade teacher for 12 years and is now the Educational Director for DARE America. His sister also taught in North Carolina’s public school system. Rob even taught in the classroom for two years with Teach for America.”

If Barefoot and Bryan had such roots in public education, then why have their actions for the last three years since the printing of this op-ed done more harm to public education than help? Barefoot’s mother and sister teach/taught young students as did Bryan’s mother. If they were so in tune with helping teachers of these students, then why are things like the following happening?

“RALEIGH – Durham elementary school students took over Sen. Chad Barefoot’s office on Wednesday for an art lesson and protest designed to urge state lawmakers to increase education funding (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article148484449.html#storylink=cpy).

barefoots office

The pool of irony is getting deeper. And murkier.

But how Barefoot and Bryan end their op-ed from 2014 really frames their hypocrisy because it talks about rewarding teachers without really paying them respect.

“Recruiting great teachers means paying teachers better at the beginning of their career. Retaining great teachers means getting them to a professional and competitive wage as quickly as possible while allowing them to grow in their careers. Rewarding great teachers means recognizing their excellence and value to the classroom and compensating them for it.

We acknowledge that being able to say that we pay our teachers at the national average will make politicians everywhere feel good. But what we risk is leaving in place the status quo – structural problems that prevent us from treating our teachers with respect. We should want a salary schedule that attracts the best and brightest and reenergizes our educators who have been neglected by the existing salary schedule.”

It would be a lesson worthwhile for Barefoot and Bryan to realize that there is a very sharp difference between rewarding teachers and respecting teachers. Why? Because…

  • A reward sounds like something that can be used as a political ploy. Respect needs no political prompt.
  • A reward could be a one-time gift. Respect is continuous and grows.
  • A reward is a reaction to something. Respect guides your actions.
  • A reward is giving teachers a small bonus that gets taxed by the state and has no effect on retirement. Respect would be to bring salaries for teachers at least to the national average.
  • A reward would be to give a school some sort of distinction because it met a measurement achievement. Respect would be honoring teachers because of actual student growth in the face of factors out of the schools’ control.
  • A reward would be providing more textbooks. Respect would be to keep growing per-pupil expenditures to ensure that all students got the resources they need.
  • A reward would be giving a one-time pay hike to teachers. Respect would be to make sure they kept getting raises throughout their careers on a fair salary schedule and restoring longevity pay.
  • A reward may be speaking highly of principals. Respect would be not ever allowing our average principal salary to rank next to last in the nation.
  • A reward may be to alter the teacher evaluation system. Respect would be to restore due-process rights for all teachers.
  • A reward may be to give more professional development for teachers. Respect would be restoring pay bumps for graduate degrees.

Ironically, Barefoot and Bryan use the term “status quo” twice as a premise on which to build their sanctimonious claims and give themselves permission to pursue the policies they have since the publication of this op-ed.

If anything, they are the status quo.