Dear District 30, Every Public School in NC Needs You To Elect Jen Mangrum to the NC General Assembly

News today that Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore might be considering a maneuver to ramrod their budget through the NC General Assembly without any debate or chance for amendment is not surprising.

“According to top Democrats who spoke to Policy Watch this week, that may be because Republican lawmakers are considering a maneuver that would dramatically limit debate on the privately negotiated spending plan in the coming days.

State House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson says members of his party believe the GOP may pack the entire budget bill—negotiated by House and Senate leadership behind closed doors—into a conference committee report either late this week or early next week. While such a tactic is not unheard of at the General Assembly, this would be an unprecedented move with respect to the state budget according to several longtime lawmakers and legislative staffers” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2018/05/22/democrats-berger-moore-budget-process-may-quash-debate-amendments/). 

Berger’s tactics as the leader of the NC Senate have been nothing short of detrimental to public schools in North Carolina despite his silky rhetoric.

In this election year, Berger does have a strong opponent running against him: Jen Mangrum.

If you braved the cold temps in January and attended the Class Size Chaos Rally in Raleigh, you probably ran into Jen Mangrum. She was there to lend support.

If you came to the May 16th Rally and March, then you probably came within feet of her. She was there.

Mangrum is an educator. In fact, she is an educator of educators and is the daughter of … yes … educators. In the times that I have been in her company, I have found her accessible, compassionate, and straightforward.

I hope she is the person who unseats Phil Berger.

mangrum-logo275

The Long, Deliberate, Slow Surgical Cut into North Carolina’s Public Education System

When Phil Berger and Tim Moore held a press conference in which they feigned surprise and indignation at the thought that teachers would even consider rallying on May 16th, it was rather apparent that it was a scripted endeavor.

From WFMY.com:

During the conference, the two said, “Republicans in the General Assembly made a promise to dramatically raise teacher pay in North Carolina, and we’ve kept our promise. Despite the lack of information in the media and the politically-motivated misinformation coming from the local affiliate of the national teachers’ union, the numbers speak for themselves, and we’re glad to have the opportunity to share North Carolina’s success story and set the record straight.”

For the 2018-19 school year, Moore and Berger said teachers should expect to see an average 6.2 percent pay raise. They say this increase comes without a tax hike (https://www.wfmynews2.com/article/news/education/nc-lawmakers-pledge-4k-plus-pay-raise-ahead-of-teacher-rally/83-552338553).

Forget that the word “average” is included in that statement. The fact that it was stated on the very first day of the convening of the NCGA should give concern. Without any debate, committee amendments, or input from the roughly 4.5 million North Carolinians who are represented by democrats, Berger and Moore seem to prognosticate the future with arrogant surety.

Why? Because they already have a budget (biannually made) and they plan on not opening it up for debate at all.

From WRAL.com just today:

House Speaker Tim Moore said Tuesday that he and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger plan to huddle Wednesday to knock out final areas of House/Senate disagreement on the state budget, which he expects to be ready for votes next week.

Moore also confirmed plans to roll that budget out as a conference report, a process that precludes amendments once House and Senate negotiators sign off on a deal worked out behind closed doors.

Democrats howled Tuesday as the plan circulated at the statehouse, partly because it will keep them from being able to offer amendments for public debate (https://www.wral.com/gop-seeks-to-prohibit-amendments-to-proposed-state-budget/17572652/).

Calculated with precision planning from a playbook straight from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Think of what all has happened since the current GOP establishment took control of North Carolina’s General Assembly.

  • “Average Bear” salary hikes
  • Removal of Due-Process rights for new teachers
  • Removal of career status for new teachers
  • Removal of graduate degree pay raises for new teachers
  • Low per-pupil expenditures
  • School Performance grading system that really just tracks poverty
  • SB599
  • Merit Pay inititatives
  • Cutting teacher assistants
  • Elimination of old Teacher Fellow program
  • Threats to Governor’s School
  • Giving ACT too much power in measuring schools
  • Vouchers
  • Unregulated Charter Schools growth
  • Flawed principal pay plan
  • SAS and hidden algorithms
  • Class Size Chaos
  • Lack of textbook funding
  • Attacks on Advocacy Groups
  • Cutting of benefits for new teachers
  • Unregulated virtual charter schools
  • Innovative School District
  • ESA’s
  • Propping up a puppet state superintendent
  • Lack of Student Services

Think of the privatization efforts in the nation that have hooks in NC and to whom they are connected to within this state.

graph11

 

graph1

 

list

For a full explanation, check this link: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/02/13/the-privatization-of-north-carolinas-public-schools-a-whos-who/.

Now add laws and mandates like HB2, the Voter ID Law, the gerrymandered districts, and the attempted judicial system overhaul.

Calculated. Patient. Crafted. Delicately Executed. Driven by dogma.

It’s been happening for six years.

Makes November 6th so important.

In fact, imperative.

Dear Guilford and Rockingham Counties, Every Public School in NC Needs You To Elect Jen Mangrum to the NC General Assembly

News today that Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore might be considering a maneuver to ramrod their budget through the NC General Assembly without any debate or chance for amendment is not surprising.

“According to top Democrats who spoke to Policy Watch this week, that may be because Republican lawmakers are considering a maneuver that would dramatically limit debate on the privately negotiated spending plan in the coming days.

State House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson says members of his party believe the GOP may pack the entire budget bill—negotiated by House and Senate leadership behind closed doors—into a conference committee report either late this week or early next week. While such a tactic is not unheard of at the General Assembly, this would be an unprecedented move with respect to the state budget according to several longtime lawmakers and legislative staffers” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2018/05/22/democrats-berger-moore-budget-process-may-quash-debate-amendments/). 

Berger’s tactics as the leader of the NC Senate have been nothing short of detrimental to public schools in North Carolina despite his silky rhetoric.

In this election year, Berger does have a strong opponent running against him: Jen Mangrum.

If you braved the cold temps in January and attended the Class Size Chaos Rally in Raleigh, you probably ran into Jen Mangrum. She was there to lend support.

If you came to the May 16th Rally and March, then you probably came within feet of her. She was there.

Mangrum is an educator. In fact, she is an educator of educators and is the daughter of … yes … educators. In the times that I have been in her company, I have found her accessible, compassionate, and straightforward.

I hope she is the person who unseats Phil Berger.

mangrum-logo275

 

 

 

If the NCGA Wants to Place “In God We Trust” in Every Public School, Then Do It This Way

This past week a bill was introduced to place a plaque with the words “In God We Trust” in every school in a prominent place.

From the May 17th edition of the News & Observer:

North Carolina public schools could soon become a little more religious, if the General Assembly passes a new bill that would force schools to display signs saying “In God We Trust.”

The bill would require all public schools, both traditional and charter, to put a sign displaying both the national motto of “In God We Trust” and the state motto of “To Be Rather Than To Seem” in a prominent place on campus (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article211333674.html). 

This is simply hypocritical to many- in an election year nonetheless.

To some, it is simply trying to appeal to the evangelical vote for the primary sponsors.

Take a visit to the website for the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation – http://cpcfoundation.com/. That’s .COM. It’s commercially driven.

Now take a look at the North Carolina Caucus members – http://cpcfoundation.com/north-carolina-prayer-caucus-members/. See some familiar names? That’s right. All four of the primary sponsors of this bill are members. Two are even the co-chairs of the North Carolina Delegation.

  • Representative Bert Jones, Co-Chair
  • Representative Dean Arp, Co-Chair
  • Representative Linda Johnson
  • Representative Phil Shepherd

These four lawmakers (among others in the NCGA) abide by the CPCF’s Vision and Mission which state,

  • Protect religious freedom, preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and promote prayer.
  • The CPCF will restore and promote America’s founding spirit and core principles related to faith and morality by equipping and mobilizing a national network of citizens, legislators, pastors, business owners and opinion leaders.

All in the name of religious freedom. Talk about your separation of church and state.

 

As a teacher in a public school, it is not my job to indoctrinate students with religious dogma. It should not be the job of a school plaque to do the same thing.

If a student comes into my classroom, I will do my best to teach him or her. It does not matter if the student is a Christian, pagan, atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, or believes in many gods. It does not matter is the student is straight, gay, or identifies as transgender. It does not matter if the student is a Dreamer, first-generation immigrant, or someone whose family line runs generations in NC.

The public school walls should be as accepting.

Besides, I do not want a lawmaker telling everyone whom I am supposed to trust when I have so little trust in those who sponsored this bill in the first place.

But if one really wants to have “In God We Trust” to be read in schools, then maybe it should come in this form – many times over:

dollars

Every North Carolina Lawmaker Should Be a Proctor for a State Exam

Of the many incredibly clever, spot-on, and ingenious signs from the May 16th march and rally in Raleigh, this one has remained my favorite.

proctor

“Can Anyone Here Proctor?” This gentleman was everywhere. That’s what made this sign so powerful – there is always a test to be administered and there is always a need for  proctor. If you want to get an idea of the absolute unenviable task of setting a testing schedule for a large school can be, then create one for all exams that allows for space and time and room for all accommodations.

And then find proctors for all of them.

Exams for our school system start May 30th.

They last until June 8th.

8 days for state exams.

Proctors needed for all of them.

So before the General Assembly passes yet more mandates and bills that show a complete ignorance of the tasks and duties of teachers and staffs in public schools, each lawmaker should serve as a proctor for a state exam just to get an idea of the inner workings of a school filled with duties and tasks that must be performed with limited resources and space.

Twice.

There is a booklet – http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/accountability/policyoperations/prctrgd1617.pdf.

proctor2

There is also mandatory training.

Ours is tomorrow morning at 8:00.

Don’t be late.

Oh, and next year each lawmaker should be required to administer one of those exams.

 

 

Lessons Learned on One School Day – The Education of Rep. Mark Brody

As momentum was building for the Rally for Students and March for Respect organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators, some lawmakers talked of their disapproval of the “protest” and the fact that it was happening on a school day.

Others, like Rep. Mark Brody, made more memorable statements.

RepBrodyFacebookPost

That will forever be etched into the minds of North Carolinian public school teachers as the “thugs” comment.

Please look at that Facebook posting again. It may have been written in a hurry, but it was central and developed to a particular theme: unions and blasting those who would demonstrate on a school day.

Needless to say, what Rep. Brody LEARNED on May 16th just shows what an education one can receive when he “listens” to the lesson. It also shows that May 16th might have been the most important “school day” of the entire year.

First, if there was any one slogan or term most seen in Raleigh, it was the use of the word “thug.”

thugs2thug1

Rep. Brody might have been the biggest motivating force to get teachers to sign up and go to Raleigh within the week leading to the march and rally.

Secondly, Rep. Brody learned the value of proofreading, revising, and editing before turning in his paper (or posting on social media).

Lynn Bonner’s report on May 16th for the Raleigh News & Observer (“Why did you call us thugs? Teachers seek answers…”.), showed Brody in a more contrite mood (http://amp.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article211269714.html?__twitter_impression=true).

“I’ve been schooled a lot in the last couple of hours,” Brody said.

By making the argument that he was only referring to the NCAE in his remarks seemed weak as NCAE is neither a union and a large number of teachers who attended the rally were not NCAE members. There were parents, students, community members, and other advocates who marched and rallied.

Next, Brody seems to have a fascination with not becoming Chicago. The following is compliments of Kris Nordstrom, one of the very best education policy writers in the state if not this part of the country.

brody1

Additionally, Bonner says that Bonner handed out cards with teacher pay information on it.

As teachers left his office, Brody handed them cards with the address to a Republican legislators’ website on teacher pay.

No doubt these were cards referring to http://www.ncteacherraise.com which has been widely debunked for its phony information. This blog had a post yesterday talking about it: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2018/05/18/dont-believe-the-hype-about-ncteacherraise-com-it-was-bs-back-then-and-even-more-so-now/.

But perhaps what Rep. Brody may have learned the hard way was that with the tremendous success of the demonstration and the fluid manner in which it carried out, more and more teachers went to bed that Wednesday night more encouraged and more determined to make the May 16th march and rally the start of something.

Rep. Brody had a lot to do with that.

In fact, there may be quite a number of new NCAE members.

 

May 16th Was Just the Beginning – Now the Work Really Begins – Red4EdNC

The question “So, where does it go from here?” seems to be the most asked question since the end of the May 16th Advocacy March and Rally in Raleigh. Ironically, this is not just a question for the General Assembly, but for many teachers in NC.

That “where we go from here” isn’t just about physical action and overt advocacy. It’s more than that.

It’s mental as well. It means viewing May 16th as a singular moment in a much larger movement, one that hopefully will culminate in a favorable November election season where a pro-public General Assembly will be elected and undo what has been a systemically slow cut to our public schools.

That kind of mindset helps to guide proactive actions.

It can help teachers and advocates to be more mindful in shedding a light on issues that truly affect public schools: per-pupil funding, vouchers, teacher pay, and numerous others. That can be done by writing lawmakers, op-eds in newspapers, or simply talking with voters.

Ultimately it means getting connected with others who also advocate. As each public school is a foundational institution in the community it serves, groups of teachers who work collaboratively can create great positive change – contagious positive change.

Just look at May 16th. The collective group as a whole is so much stronger than the sum of our individual parts. We must stay connected.

One of the ways to connect with other groups of teachers is to go to red4ednc.com and register  to be part of a community of teachers and advocates already linked together with a mission to keep people informed and aware.

red4ed1

The hope is that each county in NC will have people registered which will ensure that all school systems here are connected. That’s crucial as the NC General Assembly’s summer session is convening and people all over need to be kept up to date with pending legislation and mandates.

Think of it as creating a digital foundation to keep teachers informed and motivated to continue what May 16th helped to start.

Think of it as making a moment into a series of more moments that transforms into a movement.

Our students depend on us outside of the classroom as well.

I ask you to visit the site and consider registering.

red4ed2

So, This Is What Class Size Chaos Looks Like

Remember when lawmakers in Raleigh like Chad Barefoot and Phil Berger told you that the class size mandate was a good thing and had already been funded, and then you realized that they were lying?

Straight through their teeth?

With a smile?

If either one of them looked outside their office or the legislative chambers they may have seen images such as these:

chambers2chambersIMG_6484

Looks like a lot of people in a small space who are forced there because of unfunded mandates.

 

Dear Sen. Berger and Rep. Moore, Exactly What is the Job Description of a Public School Teacher? Because You Seem to Have All the Answers

Almost four years ago, Sen, David Curtis delivered a rather uneducated response to a letter from a young teacher in which he outlined a close-minded viewpoint of the teaching profession (http://wunc.org/post/teacher-email-legislators-draws-harsh-reply#stream/0).

Needless to say, it garnered quite a response from teachers around the state.

Other public education critics have gone out of their way to express a narrow-minded take on the teaching profession. For instance:

tim-peck-tweet

Actually, the answer to that is over $100,000. I did the math here: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/09/20/so-whats-the-market-rate-for-an-unaccountable-degree-holding-babysitter-i-assume-he-meant-teachers/.

In a state where the teaching profession has undergone assault after assault from lawmakers such as yourselves, many in Raleigh who claim to represent the best interests of the state pin their opinions of teacher and school performance on test results and financial bottom lines. They (and you) then craft policies that match those opinions.

So I want to ask a non-rhetorical question of you (and actually anyone else), what exactly is the job description of a North Carolina public school teacher?

This is by no means a loaded question or one that is asked to create a nebulous web of answers that would cloud the actual debate. But if public education is to be an issue that defines another session of the NC General Assembly, that decides votes in a huge election year, and that all people already have some sort of stake in, then what the role of a public school teacher in North Carolina might need to be more understood.

So, would you please clarify:

Is it to deliver curriculum and teach mastery?

Is it to help students grow into productive citizens?

Is it to “teach” the whole child – intellectually, mentally, emotionally, etc.

Is it to get students to pass standardized tests?

Is it to keep students safe?

Is it all all of those things and much more?

Below is a screenshot from the statutes of the General Assembly concerning the “duties” of teachers.

duties of teachers

They include a variety of “duties,” some more defined than others: discipline, “teaching,” reporting, provide for well-being, medical care, keep order, etc.

Now throw in some other factors and variables that have a direct effect on those “duties” like poverty, hunger, sickness, apathy, lack of resources, overcrowding, and respect for the profession. It makes those duties in the above statute seem a little more expansive.

So, what is the real job description of a public high school teacher in North Carolina that considers the defined duties, expectations, and realities of public educators? And are you willing to share that as a lawmaker who makes decisions on how teachers are resourced, treated, and viewed? If not, then you might need to educate yourself.

And if you are willing, are you ready to hear from teachers the truth?

But after all the platitudes, accolades, and lip service that you have paid to the teaching profession, every lawmaker must ask him/herself, what is it really worth?

Because teachers in other states are speaking very loudly.

The Part Of The “Listening Tour” The State Superintendent Refused to Attend

When I took office as State Superintendent, I embarked on a statewide listening tour to hear directly from educators, parents, and community and business leaders. Now I am able to focus on priorities highlighted by teachers from Murphy to Manteo. I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns and working to support them” – Mark Johnson from “Ways to show our teachers appreciation” from EdNC.org on May 8th, 2018 (https://www.ednc.org/2018/05/08/ways-to-show-our-teachers-appreciation/).

When Johnson penned this op-ed he made reference to his “NC Education & Innovation Tour.” One stop was in my home district in Forsyth County last year.

listening

The part of that quote which states, “I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns” seemed very relevant to yesterday’s rally and march in Raleigh for teachers and public education.

Why? Because it seems that if Johnson really was interested in “listening” to teachers, then yesterday might have been the best opportunity to really engage with nearly 20,000 of them.

Think of it as a stop on the NC Education & Innovation Tour that Johnson refused to attend, even though teachers from Manteo to Murphy actually came to him. In this case, Johnson’s actions to not join those he supposedly supports speak so much louder than his words.

And Johnson makes the distinction between action and words. He said so himself in that op-ed on EdNC.org.

At the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, we are working hard to show our appreciation with actions, not just words and fanfare.“

The fact that Johnson did not make one attempt to come and “listen” to those teachers, parents, advocates, and students who came to Raleigh speaks volumes. He did say earlier lack week that he would not attend the rally.

“I absolutely support teachers, but I do not plan to attend a protest on a school day.”

He may call it a “protest.” That’s fine. Many people there called it advocating. In fact, most everybody there called it necessary.

It also was a chance to “listen,” which unlike “hearing” is an active endeavor.

And actions mean more than words.

Johnson said so himself.