Red4EdNC Issues Declaration in Defense of North Carolina’s Public Schoolchildren

Today Red4EdNC issues its Declaration in Defense of North Carolina’s Public Schoolchildren.  This is our first step toward the formation of a Teacher Congress which will be comprised of educators from all across the state and will work towards education policy reforms that benefit students in North Carolina.

North Carolina educators who would like to make history and virtually sign the Declaration may do so by clicking here.  Please share this opportunity with other NC teachers who are ready for substantial change.

Declaration in Defense of North Carolina’s Public Schoolchildren
July 4th, 2018
Drafted by Teachers on the Red4EdNC Advisory Board and Board of Directors

 

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for the people of a state to confront a legislative supermajority that has consistently demonstrated over the course of seven years a hostility to the premise, the constitutional promise, and the provision of a high-quality public education for all, a decent respect to the citizens of that state requires a comprehensive list of the injustices that supermajority has inflicted upon its children and its teacher corps, as well as coherent vision for restoring that state to its former prominence as a leader in public education. We take as our standard, North Carolina’s proud motto: “Esse quam videri — To be rather than to seem.”

We hold that the following truth is evident, moral, and pragmatic — that North Carolina students are guaranteed a sound basic education by the North Carolina Constitution, in Article IX, which states: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” We further hold that the citizens of North Carolina have an economic stake to see that the children of the state are well-educated lest we fail to develop a workforce capable of sufficiently providing for themselves and fail to create new generations of citizens who can contribute to and advance our state, nation, and world.

North Carolina has a long history of vigorous, bipartisan support for public education. However, beginning in the spring of 2011, the leadership of the majority party, especially in the upper chamber, departed from this tradition and moved to underfund and stigmatize K-12 public education, crippling these long-cherished institutions while simultaneously bolstering unproven, experimental and frequently profit-driven replacements, many of which have had the effect of resegregating North Carolina’s children.

We have attended town halls, and we have addressed members of the General Assembly in their offices in Raleigh and in their home districts. We have marched in the streets by the tens of thousands. We have provided comprehensive and empirically irrefutable data to representatives and senators which demonstrate not only the willful underfunding of our schools but the resulting devastating impacts on our state’s classrooms.  Despite those actions, state lawmakers continue to enact policies which harm our teachers and students.

We hold that the following facts are incontrovertible when it comes to the actions taken and policies adopted by the General Assembly since 2011:

  • They have taken significant steps to de-professionalize the teaching profession in North Carolina, including the revocation of career status, the termination of compensation for advanced degrees, and elimination of retiree health care benefits beginning with teachers hired in 2021.
  • They have cut over 7,400 teacher assistants relative to 2008 levels,  resulting in less supportive and responsive classroom environments, especially given the K-3 testing burden.
  • They have increased the volume of standardized testing–especially among our elementary students where least developmentally appropriate–and fostered a culture of fear and anxiety related to assessments that adversely impacts students and teachers alike.
  • They have enacted a “school report card” system where measures correlate more to wealth and poverty than to instructional quality.
  • They have financed the creation of an evaluation regimen based on secret algorithms (Education Value-Added Assessment System) that precludes equitable and informed treatment for both teachers and students.
  • They have directed millions of dollars to unaccountable charter schools, many of them with dismal records of academic performance but clear records of profit-seeking. This action has resulted in the resegregation of North Carolina’s children on the basis of race and class.
  • They have lifted the cap on charter schools and allowed municipalities to finance them with local property taxes, actions which have resulted in and will continue to worsen racial and economic segregation in our state.
  • They have slashed textbook funding to the point where many of our students are forced to do without.
  • They have consistently placed major education policy initiatives in budget bills rather than moving them through a deliberative committee process, eliminating the debate and public input so essential to the creation of effective policy.
  • They have eliminated the Teaching Fellows program, a teacher development program with an excellent track record of creating high-quality teachers at a relatively low cost, and replaced it with an emaciated version.
  • They have drastically cut corporate tax rates, crippling the General Assembly’s capacity to adequately fund the traditional classroom —  $3.5 billion has been lost in annual revenue and that figure will increase to $4.4 billion beginning in 2019–despite business leaders’ stated desire for increased funding for public schools.
  • They have consistently enacted salary schedules which leave North Carolina far behind the national average in teacher compensation.  Salaries of veteran teachers have stagnated to the point where many of our most experienced teachers have left the profession before full and duly earned retirement pension and health benefits may be collected, resulting in a ‘greening’ of our teaching corps which adversely impacts students.
  • They have created salary schedules in North Carolina that compensate principals at a level worse than the other 49 states as of the spring of 2018.
  • They have provided 3.5% fewer teachers per student than in 2008, increasing class sizes to a degree that teachers struggle to provide students with an orderly environment for learning, and individualized instruction.
  • They have created policies that, in their totality, have increased achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color dramatically since 2008.

In direct contrast to these harmful actions, the NC Teacher Congress offers the following restorative vision:

  • An increase in per-pupil funding, adjusted for inflation, to pre-recession levels.
  • Salary restoration, adjusted for inflation, to 2008 levels, and a move toward compensation which encourages our most experienced teachers to stay in the profession.
  • Cessation of tax practices which favor individuals over the collective good.
  • Elected representatives must  return to a focus on removing poverty-related barriers to student success. We must adopt policies which promote racial and economic integration rather than policies which have the effect of segregating along racial and economic lines.
  • All North Carolina children deserve the opportunity to learn from great teachers in clean, adequately-supplied classrooms. They all deserve to enter each school day healthy, free of hunger, and focused on learning, as a result of a supportive home life, or because adequate supports are in place to address afflictive childhood experiences and trauma.
  • Assessment regimens should be developmentally appropriate, informed by best practices in terms of span and focus, and should authentically assess mastery. Assessment should inform future instruction rather than determine bonus pay for teachers and principals.
  • Major education policies should be crafted and debated openly in committee settings and on the floor of representative legislative bodies.
  • Policymakers must develop processes that allow consistent input from educators, agency personnel, and subject experts.

We, therefore, the assembled teachers of North Carolina’s public schools, representing almost all 115 Local Education Agencies in North Carolina’s 100 counties, appeal to the voters and the lawmakers of North Carolina to reverse the harmful course outlined above and restore our state to its former position as a national leader in public education.

To accomplish this end, we hereby call for a representative body of North Carolina Teachers to form with all deliberate speed.  Once assembled, this North Carolina Teacher Congress will determine a course of action that will return us to the conditions to which we are accustomed – those that, when it comes to educational opportunity in our state, embrace the state motto: “Esse quam videri: To be rather than to seem.”

We are mutually pledged to each other, to the citizens of North Carolina, and most importantly, to the children in our classrooms and the future of our state.

Actually, Teachers Have 1st Amendment Rights As Well

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedophold of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment

In that one amendment is:

  • Separation of state and religion,
  • Freedom of speech,
  • Right to assemble peaceably,
  • Petitioning the Government.

Those rights were exercised on May 16th in Raleigh when thousands of teachers and school employees and advocates marched and rallied for public education in North Carolina. Yet North Carolina has a General Assembly which is supposed to uphold the tenets of the constitution trying to pass a bill to place “In God We Trust” in each public school filled with lawmakers decrying the assembly of teachers on the first day of the NCGA’s session.

And those people who assembled at that march and rally were really quite peaceful.

There have been rumors of school administrators who told teachers to not participate in the rally and to take down any references to the march and rally from personal social media accounts. Whether those are isolated incidents or widespread, the fact that many teachers felt discouraged from speaking out on “a school day” is antithetical to one of the most important duties we as educators have: to advocate for students and students.

Last Thursday an editorial appeared on WRAL.com calling out school administrators on not overtly siding with teachers in their efforts to affect change for public schools (https://www.wral.com/editorial-n-c-school-administrators-should-side-with-schools-not-politicians/17560064/).

It referenced a letter from the NC Association of School Administrators to the General Assembly sent the day before the march and rally.

SUPERINTENDENT_LETTER-DMID1-5esqrr112-640x360

The editorial did not mince words.

“If the association had been doing its job, teachers wouldn’t have been left with no other choice but to RELUCTANTLY leave their classes to be heard in Raleigh. The letter is another example of a state association choosing to avoid confrontation with the legislative leadership, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger. Everybody knows they only increase public school support when the public demands it.”

This is the same General Assembly that took away due-process rights from new teachers in 2014. That effectively instilled a fear of reprisal in newer teachers who may need to advocate for students and schools.

This is the same General Assembly that had a voter ID law declared unconstitutional because it targeted minorities and those in poverty in a state that is considered one of the most gerrymandered in the country.

Gerrymandering on the scale that was used these past few years and limiting those who can exercise right to vote is really akin to squashing people’s First Amendment rights.

The teachers who marched and rallied serve schools filled with students whose voices are compromised because of various reasons – lack of resources, discriminatory laws like HB2, lack of Medicaid expansion among others. Some of those students are Dreamers.

What the letter from the NC Association of School Administrators really stated was that it would not speak up for students and the very people who know them and their situations well: teachers.

No wonder May 16th was needed if just to give voice.

Or rather free speech in a peaceful assembly to petition the state government to fully fund public schools as stipulated by the state constitution.

It is less than six months until November 6th when the polls open for elections. It is almost guaranteed that most all of those people who marched and rallied on May 16th will voting that day.

And voting is also guaranteed by the constitution.

 

 

Being a “Thug” in a Building “With Too Many Doors” Defending Students From Kids “Drugged” With “Ritalin” Indoctrinated by “Communist Democrats” – Or, Being a North Carolina Teacher

Oliver North is the incoming president of the NRA.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is an NRA member and the second-in-command in the state of Texas.

Larry Pittman is a “man of God” and also a member of NRA. He also happens to be a representative in the North Carolina General Assembly as is Rep. Mark Brody who happens to have an “A” endorsement fro the NRA.

All four of these gentlemen in the past few days have made rather interesting assertions about either the need for more guns in schools (arming teachers) or the need for teachers to be more submissive to a rather punitive job description of teachers that opposes collective bargaining.

In the aftermath of yet another school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, Oliver North was quoted as saying that the problem is too many “drugged” students.

From CNN.com,

Incoming NRA President Oliver North said the cause of such attacks is youngsters who have been “drugged in many cases.”

“Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten,” North told Fox News Sunday (https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/20/us/malala-sabika-different-reactions-trnd/index.html). 

This coming from the man who was found guilty of selling arms to militants in a country from whom we just pulled out of a nuclear arms agreement. That country, Iran, now says it will begin enriching uranium again.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated in a press conference after the Santa Fe shooting many things that he thought could curb violent attacks at schools.

Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said after the nation’s latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that teachers need guns, parents should secure firearms safely at home, and schools should eliminate some of their entrances.

“We need our teachers to be armed,” Patrick said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” (https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/20/politics/texas-dan-patrick-cnntv/index.html). 

Those two national figures seem to have pinpointed the phantom problems: Ritalin and too many doors. Blame the doctors, the architects, and the engineers. And don’t forget the teachers themselves.

Speaking of medicating for ADHD, take a look at Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk called “Changing Education Paradigms.” It’s simply fantastic. In it he talks about the rise of ADHD diagnoses and the rise of prescriptions for Ritalin.

ritalin

 

If Ritalin really is the problem here as Oliver North would want to portray, then North Carolina might be absolutely one of the worst places to teach. In fact, if you are teacher in a NC public high school, you are already in an everlasting high-alert “tornado watch” for violence.

But according to some NC lawmakers, the problem actually is more focused on a certain subsection of the public school population.

pittman

That is from Rep. Larry Pittman, an ordained minister, who has called for arming teachers in North Carolina to avoid having “blood on their hands” (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/04/18/rep-larry-pittman-jesus-would-never-have-sent-that-email-concerning-arming-teachers/). This coming from a man who did not expand Medicare to children living in poverty in NC. That number is over %20 of all the state’s children.

This echoes Lt. Gov. Patrick’s call for arming teachers, but a fellow NC lawmaker said that teachers were “thugs” in a Facebook comment talking about the recent NC teacher protest on May 16th which brought thousands of people to the capital for a day of advocating for schools including safety.

RepBrodyFacebookPost

Arming “thugs” in NC to protect schools with too many doors from people drugged up with Ritalin who may have fallen prey to the ideology of communist democrats in a state controlled by republicans.

Sounds about right.

If there ever was an argument to be made for raising teacher pay these four men just made it. It’s called hazard pay. But there is a premise that is incorrect here. If anything, the way that lawmakers have “assaulted” public schools, it seems to be that what teachers are really doing is trying to protect students and schools from the people trying to protect the gun-industry.

In all of their statements, these four white male, God-fearing lawmakers never talk about gun control measures, legislation that could save schools and students.

That irony is not lost on everybody.

Blaming the recent surge of school shootings on free-thought protected by the amendment that comes before the Second, prescribed medications, and architectural designs rather than lax gun laws can only point to one very important point – our lawmakers have a huge problem in actually confronting the truth if it does not have a large PAC associated with it.

 

Don’t Believe the Hype About NCTEACHERRAISE.COM – It Was BS Back Then and Even More So Now

“We need people to judge us on what we’ve done.”

– Dallas Woodhouse, NC GOP Executive Director on May 15th, 2018 (http://www.heraldsun.com/news/local/article211176454.html).

Alright, that’s exactly what I will do.

In that same report by Greg Childress of The Herald-Sun, Woodhouse talked about his party rolling out an new “application” in May 16th “that will allow teachers and others to accurately check teacher pay.”

That application is called ncteacherraise.com.

teacherpay1

Put in your years and away we go! I have 20 in my career.

teacherpay2

Looks good, if you are into glitzy numbers. But look at the small print:

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

Does not account for longevity? Of course not. That was taken away and then put back into teacher’s pay checks as part of the historic 2014 teacher raise that did not in fact go to each teacher.

Performance bonuses? Those only go to a small number of teachers and even that is not weighted well.

Advanced degrees? The same GOP that made this table took those away from new teachers in 2014.

Robust benefits package worth an average of $23,629.37? Like the average salary figure of over 50K that the GOP claims NC teachers are making, this acts the same. As long as veteran teachers who are grandfathered into salaries that honor graduate degrees, then there will be a higher benefits average pension-wise. The figure given by the ncteacherraise.com site is also too high to sustain with the new salary schedule that will no longer have teachers making over 52K at the most when they reach 25+ years of teaching. Besides, most teachers are paying more for insurance.

And local teacher supplements? That means that the GOP is using local supplements to boost their own “cooked” numbers in average salary overall when they are actually forcing local LEA’s to burden the cost of so much. Remember the class size mandate?

But the most glaring inconsistencies about this site is that it never mentions two important factors: The GREAT RECESSION and ADJUSTMENT FOR INFLATION.

Look at this nice graph:

teacherpay3

 

This site is actually using the effects of the GREAT RECESSION as a part of their argument. It’s as if they are blaming the fact that revenues for the state dipped so low because of a national financial crisis caused by Wall Street on the democrats who in a biannually created budget made the projections for 2013-2014 a year or two previous.

And there is no place on this site to calculate inflation. But don’t worry, that’s been done thanks to the North Carolina Justice Center and the venerable Kris Nordstrom.

teacherpay4

Tells a completely different story. It would be nice if Dallas Woodhouse could rebut those figures with this “new application.”

But there is another falsehood surrounding ncteacherraise.com. Woodhouse said it was new. It’s not. It was used in the last election to spread the same kind of false narrative. There is a post on this blog that addressed it from May of 2016.

Here’s what it said:

A website appeared on the landscape this week that adds even more shade to an already shady proposition. Here is the home page for www.ncteacherraise.com. Notice it has the red, white, and blue of the American Flag or the colors of the new “America” Beer once known as Budweiser.

Berger1

A few questions/concerns pop into my head when first looking at this patriotic website. The first is the banner at the top, “Attracting Excellent Teachers. Building Excellent Public Schools.” Nothing could be more antithetical to the truth.

In reality, it should say, “Spurning Excellent Teachers. Razing Excellent Public Schools.” Why? Because the very same NC GOP party that created this website also has done or enabled the following in the last three years:

  • Allowed teacher pay to continue to drop when adjusted for inflation(http://www.wral.com/after-inflation-nc-teacher-pay-has-dropped-13-in-past-15-years/15624302/).

  • Removed due process rights for new teachers to keep them from advocating loudly for students and schools.

  • Removed graduate degree pay bumps for teachers entering the profession.

  • Instituted a Value Added Measurement system and Standard 6, an amorphous and unproven way to measure teacher effectiveness.

  • Pushed for merit pay when no evidence exists that it works.

  • Attacks on teacher advocacy groups like NCAE.

  • Created a revolving door of standardized tests that do not measure student growth.

  • Lowered the amount of money spent per pupil in the state.

  • Removed class size caps.

  • Instituted a Jeb Bush style school grading system that is unfair and does nothing more than show how poverty affects public schools.

  • Created an uncontrolled and unregulated system of vouchers called Opportunity Grants.

  • Fostered charter school growth that has not improved the educational landscape and siphons money from the public school system.

  • Created failing virtual schools outsourced to private industry.

  • Allowed for an Achievement School District to be considered for legislation.

  • Eliminated the Teaching Fellows Program.

  • Created an atmosphere of disrespect for teachers that teaching candidate numbers in colleges and universities have dropped 30%.

The second and more glaring aspect of this website is the need for anyone to have to place a name, email, and zip code in the fields in order to get any information – information that should not have any strings attached to it in order to access it.

Why would anyone have to give personal information to hear about this? Well, I did with generic information. The zip code is the one for the NC General Assembly.

Berger2

And I got this.

Berger3

And this…

Berger4

The first chart with the line graph simply says that a teacher in North Carolina will get to the maximum salary within 15 years of experience. But it is interesting to see how the proposed 2017-2018 salary looks inviting.

THAT’S BECAUSE ALL OF THE OTHER ONES ARE THAT BAD. When you have nothing to look at except horrible options and then you present an option that is a little less horrible, that last option will really stick out as amazing to many people. But it isn’t.

It still shows that the highest amount of salary a new teacher will ever make is 50,000. That’s terrible. As one sees his/her children grow and want to go to college, the amount of money being netted still amounts to the same. Not many teachers will appreciate making the same amount of money in year 30 as he/she did in year 15. And it totally negates that there is no longer longevity pay for veteran teachers, and no longer advanced degree pay or due process rights for new teachers.

Furthermore, it’s just a proposal. A fictitious line in the sand.

The second screen shot highlights some spun numbers and explanations of those numbers. Allow me to translate the information.

  1. $54,224 – New teacher average salary (including local supplements). This number is putting into account current teachers who do still have advanced degree pay and due process rights. They will retire first if they do not change professions. If the proposal shown in the first table is to go into effect, the average will go down over time as the top salary would be 50,000 for those who just entered or will enter the teaching profession. It’s hard to have an average salary over the highest amount given for a salary.

  2. $9,234 – Average teacher raise since 2013. First it shows how bad salaries were, but this number is truly aided by the fact that most of the raises since 2013 were for newer teachers. Veteran teachers like myself did not receive those raises. Teachers who are just starting out got them. And it does not count graduate degree pay that many veteran teachers receive in order to help them stay in the profession. Oh, and longevity pay? Gone, as teachers no longer get that. And there is also that word, “average,” which so many times does not even equate to “actual”.

  3. #1 – Projected teacher pay ranking in the southeast. I would imagine that other states have seen the lesson shown in NC that the NCGA has not learned yet. And that is other states will also keep raising teacher salaries to keep their schools filled. And there is another word used like “average” – it is “projected.” I will believe it when I see it.

  4. #24 – Projected teacher pay ranking in the nation. Remember those historic raises from 2013 that were supposed to launch us to the middle of the pack in the nation on teacher pay? That projection did not happen. We went from 42nd to …………….41st.

  5. 15 – Number of years it will take to earn a $50,000 salary. Number of years it will take after 15 years to make more than $50,000? Eternity.

  6. 33 – Number of years it took to reach $50,000 under the Democrats’ plan. Well, you have me there. No actually you don’t. Are we referring to the plan of the “Democrats” right before the Great Recession or right after it happened? Either way, the “Democrats’ plan” had longevity pay, due-process rights, advanced degree pay bumps, and kept the health benefits at a steady pace. Adding in those factors and you might see why teaching as a career in North Carolina back before 2013 was much more inviting than it is now.

  7. $198,650 – A teacher’s additional pay over a 30-year career. Again, misleading. First, the $50,000 salary cap at year 15 is designed to make sure that veteran teachers do not stay in the profession. Secondly, this projection is not taking into account that the current retirement system may change. Look at all of the changes that have occurred in only the last three years. Imagine what might be planned for the next thirty.

 

It was BS back then. It’s even more so now.

 

 

 

Reason #4 To March For Students & Rally for Respect On May 16th – The Need For More Per Pupil Expenditure (Fully Funding Schools)

per pupil graph

The argument that 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.

Think of it in this manner. 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.

And, do not forget that the state is supposed to finance public education at a fully functional levelbecause the North Carolina State Constitution stipulates it.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s publication the 2014 Local School Finance Study provides a great history of the state’s practice in funding public schooling which is rooted in the proclamation that all children in the state ages 6-21 are guaranteed a good public education. The publication stated:

North Carolina’s first state constitution in 1776 included an education provision that stated, “A School or Schools shall be established by the Legislature for the convenient Instruction of Youth.” The legislature provided no financial support for schools.

A century later, the constitution adopted after the Civil War required the state to provide funding for all children ages 6-21 to attend school tuition-free. In 1901, the General Assembly appropriated $100,000 for public schools, marking the first time there was a direct appropriation of tax revenue for public schools. Today, the constitution mandates that the state provide a “general and uniform system of free public schools” and that the state legislature may assign counties “such responsibility for the financial support of the free public schools as it may deem appropriate.” N.C. Const. art. IX, § 2 (see sidebar, “Sources of Local School Finance Law: The North Carolina State Constitution”).

Apart from the constitutional provisions, a major change in the school funding structure occurred during the Great Depression. Under the School Machinery Act (enacted in 1931 and amended in 1933), the state assumed responsibility for all current expenses necessary to maintain a minimum eight-month school term and an educational program of basic content and quality (instructional and program expenses). In exchange for the state’s expanded role, local governments assumed responsibility for school construction and maintenance (capital expenses). The School Machinery Act established counties as the basic unit for operating public schools, which is maintained today with large county-wide school systems, except in the 11 counties that also have city school systems.

What this means is that the state has the responsibility for the financing of basic functions for public education like salaries for personnel, services for special-needs students, technology, professional development, even textbooks (remember what new ones look like?). To say that the state spends @%56 of its budget on public education and then consider that to be the end-all-and-be-all to the argument is really ignoring the reasons why such a dynamic exists.

In the past before the recent power grab by the GOP in the NCGA, the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED. Those percentages of spending are not a badge of honor that this General Assembly gets to wear; it was earned many decades ago. The fact that the percentage is getting lower actually is not a positive sign for this administration. It is a reflection that the NCGA’s level of commitment to public education is wavering. 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 cutting jobs of teaching assistants, how can one brag about the level of money spent on public schooling? And let us not forget the abysmal funds for textbooks to accompany a common core curriculum.

Even the way state funds are dispersed to LEA’s (Local Education Agencies) is a bit disconcerting. North Carolina has 100 county school systems and 15 city systems which combine for 115 LEA’s not including charters and other regional schools. Our state practices a system that simply provides all LEA’s a certain amount of money based on teacher-to-student ratios (even with class size caps removed in high schools) which mostly disregards the needs that individual LEA’s may have, especially in more poverty-stricken areas. Every LEA gets a prescribed amount of money based on a few numbers.

One of the more cohesive explanations of North Carolina’s state funding practices is a publication by the Center for American Progress entitled “The Stealth Inequities of School Funding” produced in 2012. It summarizes our state’s practices in a fairly concise manner. It says,

“North Carolina simply operates a generally unequalized formula that is also only slightly adjusted for differences in student needs and includes a modest adjustment for low-wealth districts (in place of more substantive wealth equalization). That is, while the states spotlighted in previous sections of this chapter allocated portions of their total state aid through separate unequalized formulas, North Carolina’s entire aid formula is of this type. The North Carolina formula is similar in many ways to formulas in other Southern states, including Alabama, which is also highly regressive. The formula is essentially a block-grant formula that determines the amount of state aid to be delivered by calculating the basic cost of providing specific pupil-to-teacher ratios for different grade ranges, as shown in Table 9. The formula provides a handful of supplemental allotments to accommodate special needs. Additionally, the formula assumes an average distribution of county revenue to local schools to support the basic education program (p.46).”

Federal and local funds do count for a portion of resources, but the way those funds are allocated is not a simple formula. What happened when federal Race to the Top money runs out? And how does one explain the amount of local funds that can be raised by poorer rural counties as opposed to more affluent areas of the state?

But it sure as hell makes for an artificially fertile ground to build unregulated charter schools.

 

Reason #3 To March For Students & Rally for Respect On May 16th – Removal of Graduate Degree Pay Increases

graduatepay

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 here in the Old North State.

I confess there exist numerous studies that have shown that advanced degrees do not correlate with higher test scores and/or higher graduation rates. Even John Hood’s October 2015 op-Ed “Not a matter of degrees” on EdNC.org makes note of these studies. He states:

Since 1990, scholars have published more than 100 studies in academic journals that tested the relationship between teachers having graduate degrees and some measure of educational success, such as test-score gains or increases in graduation rates. In more than 80 percent of the studies, there was no statistically significant relationship. A few of the studies actually found a negative effect. Only 15 percent produced a positive association.

Yet, those words do not convince this teacher that having advanced degrees is not beneficial for teachers, students, and schools.

Since 1990, we as a nation have transitioned from Clinton to Bush to Obama; 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 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 North Carolina General Assembly thinks 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.

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 teachers here in NC still make salaries that rate in the bottom part of the national scale.

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. In fact, the salary schedule for public school teachers ensures that a teacher who enters the profession today will never make over fifty thousand dollars ever in a year throughout his/her career. That is one major reason we are seeing fewer and fewer teaching candidates in undergraduate education schools here in North Carolina.

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.

Reason #2 To March For Students & Rally for Respect On May 16th – Removal of Due-Process Rights and Career Status for Teachers

due process

If due-process rights are not restored for new teachers, then the idea of having a rally or a march to advocate for students and schools ten to fifteen years from now would likely never happen.

They are that important! Their removal was a beginning step in a patient, scripted, and ALEC-allying plan that systematically tries to weaken a profession whose foundation is advocating for public schools.

Due-process removal actually weakens the ability of the teaching force in NC to speak up and advocate a little each year as veteran teachers retire and are replaced by new teachers who do not receive those rights.

One of the first items that the GOP controlled General Assembly attempted to pass in the early part of this decade was the removal of due-process right for all teachers. Commonly called “tenure,” due process rights are erroneously linked to the practice that colleges use to award “tenure” to professors. Actually, they really are not the same.

What due-process means is that a teacher has the right to appeal and defend himself / herself when an administrator seeks to terminate employment. It means that a teacher cannot be fired on the spot for something that is not considered an egregious offense.

Of course, if a teacher does something totally against the law like inappropriate relations with students, violence, etc., then due-process rights do not really apply. But a new principal in a school does not have the right to just clean house because of right-to-work laws. Teachers with due process rights cannot just be dismissed with the swish of a wand.

Thanks to NCAE and some courageous teachers like my friend in my district, 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.

Simply put, veteran teachers’ records prove their effectiveness or they would not have gotten continuing licenses. Teachers with due-process rights actually work to advocate for schools and students without fear of sudden reprisal.

More Proof That the Incestuous School District (ISD) of NC is a Pay-to-Play Scheme

Read this only if you want need further evidence that the Innovative School District here in North Carolina is a pay-to-play ploy by privatizers in North Carolina.

Innovative-School-District-DMID1-5eboarxdm-400x267

An ex-North Carolina lawmaker received financial benefits for his work with a nonprofit that stands to win a state contract with the public school takeover program he helped create, documents obtained by Policy Watch show.

A state disclosure form shows Rob Bryan, a former Charlotte legislator who now sits on the UNC Board of Governors, received at least $5,000 in 2017 as a “stipend” for his work with Achievement for All Children, Inc. (AAC), a Forest City-based nonprofit that’s in the final stages of negotiating a school takeover contract with the State Board of Education (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2018/04/25/school-takeover-groups-payment-to-ex-lawmaker-raises-ethics-questions/). 

NC Policy Watch’s Billy Ball reported today that Rob Bryan received money for his work from the very “nonprofit” for which he works that is profiting from a bill he actually ramrodded through the NC General Assembly in 2016.

That means that Rob Bryan is profiting from working for an outfit that is profiting from taxpayer money for a venture that Rob Bryan put together with taxpayer money two years ago without taxpayer input.

What? Yes, that’s what happened. Again:

  • Rob Bryan literally created the bill that enabled the ISD to come to NC.
  • As a legislator, Rob Bryan received campaign funds from John Bryan, the founder of TeamCFA which is connected to AAC for which Rob Bryan now works.
  • AAC was chosen to operate NC’s ISD by Eric Hall, ISD superintendent.
  • Eric Hall is to report straight to Mark Johnson, NC State Superintendent.
  • Rob Bryan and Mark Johnson are both TFA alums.
  • On the board of AAC is also Darrell Allison, who was recently leader of PEFNC, a school choice advocacy group.
  • Rob Bryan and Darrell Allison also serve on the UNC Board of Governors.

And the funny part is what Eric Hall said in Ball’s article.

Eric Hall, superintendent of the Innovative School District, indicated he wasn’t aware of the payment when contacted by Policy Watch this week, although he said no state dollars disbursed to Achievement for All Children would be used to compensate board members like Bryan.

That’s weak. Money is money. AAC got money from the state. Rob Bryan got money from AAC.

 

Just further proof that ISD really stands for the Incestuous School District.

For more on Rob Bryan and the ISD, please refer to this posting: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/04/08/the-incestuous-school-district-isd-of-nc-follow-the-money-to-see-the-pay-to-play/.

North Carolina Teacher Pay is Still 39th And Why The Cost Of Living Adjustment Argument is Erroneous

John Hood of the John Locke Foundation tweeted the following yesterday in response to the NEA’s recent report on teacher pay that had North Carolina still well below the national average.

hood1

Interestingly, he tagged it to #nced and referred all readers to a recent post by his colleague Dr. Terry Stoops, the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies for the John Locke Foundation. He must have wanted a lot of people to read this.

The John Locke Foundation is a libertarian-leaning think tank whose findings and studies on North Carolina’s public schools is so bent toward a political ideology that celebrates “school choice” and vouchers that it tends to spin data and research so much that it hopes readers will not take the time to actually look into the data themselves.

Stoops writes in his post,

Earlier today, the National Education Association (NEA) released their annual Rankings and Estimates report.  According to the report, North Carolina’s average teacher salary for 2018 ranked 39th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

But the NEA ranking does not adjust for cost of living.  When C2ER cost-of-living indices for 2017 are applied, North Carolina’s rank jumps to 29th in the nation.  Last year, North Carolina’s cost-of-living adjusted average salary was 33rd in the nation (https://lockerroom.johnlocke.org/2018/04/23/adjusted-teacher-pay-rank-29th-in-the-nation/).

Stoops then presents a table that uses the C2ER index for each state.

table1

And if one took Stoops’s interpretation at face value, then he is exactly right.

The Cost of Living Index used by Stoops is represented in the map below that the C2ER uses (https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/).

map

But Stoops simplifies it too much. Even C2ER says so.

C2ER stands for the Council for Community and Economic Research and it even warns against using the cost of living index in such a broad stroke as Stoops has done. Within its 2017 Cost of Living Index, it states,

“For 23 years, participation in the Cost of Living
Index was open to all places, regardless of size.
In the late 1980s, however, several rural places
with very small populations began
participating, and it became apparent that
adherence to the specifications in many such
places wasn’t possible. There’s no doubt that
small rural places offer an alternative to an
urban professional or managerial standard of
living that many people find attractive, but such
places are qualitatively different from urban
areas, and they simply don’t support the kind of
urban lifestyle embodied in the Cost of Living
Index.

The Committee has concluded that
participation in the Index should be restricted to
areas that can reasonably be considered urban
and patterned its restrictions after the federal
government’s distinction between urban and
rural areas.”

You can read that document here: http://coli.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-COLI-Manual.pdf. The above is on page 4. In fact, the the C2ER site actually prefers that the index be used when comparing cities to cities – not state to state.

C2ER

The very warning that C2ER gives in using its COL Index is deliberately ignored by Stoops in order that he keep on his shallow narrative that teacher pay in North Carolina is not all that bad.

Take this a little deeper and one can see that another factor Stoops conveniently ignores is that average teacher pay in North Carolina varies LEA to LEA. Local supplements that are given to teachers in some counties are much better than in other localities because those places can afford to do that. That creates a wider disparity in salaries for teachers within the state.

Metropolitan LEA’s like Wake County can give a bigger salary boost to teachers than many of the rural counties, some of whom cannot give a local supplement at all. And Stoops as well as Hood should know that rural counties suffer more when it comes to staffing schools.

This simplification of the data is not an oversight. It’s part of a plan – a deliberate attempt to sway the narrative to favor those who see simply investing in the public school system at a reasonable rate a burden.

So when Hood says in his tweet, “Even if you disagree, here’s where we really are,” it seems that he doesn’t really know where we are.

 

Happy Birthday to Coach Murphy – The Titan of Titans

A “Happy Birthday” to a multi-sport coach, a man of many hats, a well of positivity, an icon of a school, the most dependable staff member, and a man who defines others by the smiles they give.

A “Happy Birthday” to a man who always treats you like it was your birthday – every day.

I hope there will be 59 more for Coach Murph, and when I am his age, I hope I am as young as he is.

See you at school, Murph.

Murphy