There Are No “Silver Bullets” or “Magic Pills” in Changing Schools – People Make Schools Work. Invest In Them.

There are no “silver bullets” or “magic pills” when it comes to changing a school.

There is no one thing that can be done, no standard blueprint, no Harry Potter spell that can be executed that will make a struggling school turn its fortune around overnight.

Rather, transforming schools is a process – one that has to have the investment of all people involved: administrators, teachers, and students.

That process is rooted in school culture.

Culture – noun  cul·ture  \ ˈkəl-chər \ :t he set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization (merriam-webster.com)

That definition suggests multiple variables: “attitudes,” “values,” “goals,” and “practices.” They are “shared,” clearly outlined, nurtured, practiced, modeled, and embraced.

culture

Most schools have one principal and perhaps multiple assistant principals who can set a tone and attitude for the school. But the most effective school administrators are the ones who do not see teachers as an extension of authority or executors of mandates. The most effective school administrators view teachers as the very foundation of what makes a positive school culture.

Those same effective school administrators look to remove obstacles for teachers so that they can do what they do best: teach and help students.

In today’s data-driven world and over-reliance on bottom lines, it is easy to judge schools by a series of standardized, yet nebulous measurements such as ACT scores, EOCT proficiency rates, or even EVAAS projections. To say that those measures do not have any merit is not the point. They do, but to a smaller degree than other variables, ones fostered by school culture.

Positive school culture celebrates the process, not just a score on a test. It focuses on the actions taken to improve all measurable and immeasurable outcomes. It sees the student as a person, an individual, not as a test-taker. It values the roles of the teachers and honors the relationships that each teacher makes with the students. It includes student and parent involvement, the student section, the quality of the yearbook, the number of kids in extracurricluars, and the willingness of a community to support them.

Look at the number of teachers who come early and stay late, who attend events in the school that are not academic. Look at the students who come for tutoring and ask for help because they feel free to advocate for themselves.

Listen to the announcements and see what is celebrated. Look who wears apparel that reflects school spirit.

Look at teacher-turnover rates, student dropout rates, and workplace condition surveys.

When the only valued measure of a school becomes data points whose formulas are never fully revealed, then what happens is that blind faith in algorithms and conversions is greater than the trust in the human capital that is the life force of the school.

Find a principal who can fully explain the algorithms used by SAS to come up with EVAAS predictors. Find a county administrator or a state officer who can.

Find the ACT report that breaks down every strand and standard for each missed question and totally reveals how each student did on each question so complete that it can be used to help remediate.

Find a state or local benchmark test whose answers can be validated by any administrator or teacher having to use it.

Yet in many of those cases, those standardized ways of measuring students have become so much more the focus of many schools and administrators which in turn forces schools to look only at bottom lines and manufactured outcomes. That approach easily dismisses the human element.

Students are human.

Teachers are human.

Administrators are human.

And school culture is driven by students and teachers and nurtured by administrators. It is not measured by numbers, but by atmosphere, attitude, and shared visions. That takes time, effort, communication, and trust. It is something that starts from the inside and grows outward, not the other way round.

There is no “silver bullet” to make that happen.

There is no “magic pill” to swallow.

For schools to have a positive school culture there must be a strong faith in a process that creates a better outcome the more it is practiced. The more input that comes from those invested in the process, the more investment overall.

And when those who are in a school that wants to improve help to create an organic, dynamic culture that celebrates the student/teacher relationship and understands that all positive outcomes cannot be really quantified, then something that is actually magical does appear: a great school.

Besides, we do not need any more bullets in schools. We really do not.

I Don’t Need To Drink DPI’s Kool-Aid To Tell A “Truthful & Authentic” Story About Teaching In NC

There is no doubt that the new merit pay-based teacher licensure and pay proposal is not beneficial to the teaching profession and the state of North Carolina.

When the Department of Public Instruction has to hire a public relations firm whose past includes marketing controversial menthol-infused cigarettes to a certain demographic for a profit to sell that proposal to teachers and legislators, then you know something deceptive is in the works.

What we know about this new licensure/pay proposal was never meant to be publicized. Through the work of teacher advocates like Justin Parmenter and his Notes From The Chalkboard blog, we are being shown the true nature of DPI’s plan to further damage a teacher pipeline to achieve an endgame of turning the teaching profession into prorated work for curriculum deliverers under contracted work.

What is more disheartening is that part of the DPI team who is trying to “sell” this proposal to teachers are former teachers who seem in a short time to have pledged loyalty to a privatizer like State Supt. Catherine Truitt and forgotten what has been happening in classrooms for the last few years.

Specifically, former Teachers of the Year for regions and even the state.

This past April, former state TOY Maureen Stover published an article in EdNC.org entitled “Together we can develop a new licensure system that empowers our teachers.

Within it she stated,

“When I was first introduced to the Pathways to Excellence Licensure model, I was excited because I felt that it was designed for a teacher like me — someone who wants leadership opportunities without going into administration. As I continued to learn more about the model, I realized the incredible potential and positive impact it could have on every teacher from pre-service through veteran in North Carolina.”

It reads like a statement prepared by an entity that was paid for by public tax dollars with all the glittering buzzwords within the arsenal of a public relations firm.

If this proposal was so great then we should be hearing so much more teacher approval swirling in the profession. We should be hearing more teachers touting its benefits. We should hear teachers excited about it. We should be hearing from all of those people in the classrooms who had input.

What we have is a surreptitiously constructed ad campaign put together by a bunch of people who have no idea what teaching through this pandemic was like while non-educators in Raleigh continuously pick and choose their opportunities to either praise or belittle teachers to fit a narrative.

And months after Justin Parmenter began uncovering what was actually happening, these former TOYs are trying to keep plugging a narrative that this proposal is best for NC, a state that has over 25% more vacancies at the start of this school year than last year.

From a Facebook posting this past week:

When someone tells me that he/she wants to share an “authentic and truthful” story, I am preparing for a story about spiritual conversion or a pyramid selling scheme.

Teachers, especially veteran teachers, do not need to be told an “authentic and truthful” story about how someone no longer in the classroom became a teacher. THEY ALREADY HAVE AUTHENTIC AND TRUTHFUL STORIES!

In fact, those teachers who felt compelled for various reasons to pursue other careers for reasons of low pay and disrespect have authentic and truthful stories.

To “sell” a disingenuous plan that will in no way address the reasons that teachers are leaving the profession in a state like NC sounds like a prepared tactic from someone who has drunk too much of the Kool-Aid being served in DPI.

In her op-ed, Stover never mentioned restoration of graduate degree pay, longevity pay, or even due-process rights. She was a teacher when those things were taken away. She knows damn well what those measures did to the teaching profession in North Carolina.

She should also know that over 1 in 5 teachers in NC have national certification and teachers have already been taking on multiple duties to make our schools work despite underfunding. She should also know that there is a court decision called LEANDRO that states that NC has underfunded its public school system for decades.

Now that’s authentic and truthful.

School Performance Grades Come Out Today – The Gerrymandered NCGA’s Continued Use Of Poverty To Drive “School Choice”

Today school performance grades for the 2021-2022 school year were released. The only positive about those school performance grades in relation to the last time they were issued (three years ago) is that the NCGA kept the scale at a 15-point scale instead of what was planned originally for the 2020-2021 school year: making it a 10-point scale.

The formula is still the same however – extreme emphasis on test scores over growth. Grades for the last two years were never released due to the pandemic.

From the January 2019 Public School Forum of North Carolina’s report on top the issues in NC education:

graph

Those were from the last time these grades were released. Not surprisingly, this year’s school performance grades yielded the information shown in the graph above: school performance grades correlate heavily with poverty levels in schools. In fact, it almost is sure-fire measure of poverty rates.

Back to the Charlotte Observer report:

Those trends have been in place since the school performance grading system began. And NC is unique in how it uses their school grading system. From Lindsay Mahaffey, Wake County Board of Education – District 8 in January of 2019 when the last grades were given:

16 states

If NC is the only state that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade, then NC weighs proficiency at least 30% more than the next ranking state.

For certain, North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.

The people who made the decision to institute and maintain the school performance grading system formula and still expand vouchers and rapid charter school growth ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFICIENCY AND GROWTH. IT HELPS TO VALIDATE THEIR WANT OF MORE “REFORMS.”

What if in the school year 2019-2020, the school performance grade scale did shift from a fifteen-point scale to a ten-point scale. Do you know what that would have meant?

IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HARDER FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO QUALIFY AS PASSING. IN FACT, SCHOOLS COULD HAVE HAD A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF STUDENT GROWTH AND STILL GET A LOWER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE GRADE!

There would have been more failing schools. This comes from a legislative body that endorsed the state board a few school years ago to institute a ten-point scale for all high school grading systems to help ensure higher graduation rates, but also wanted to shrink scales for those schools’ performance grades.

A legislative body that was elected with unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps.

NC still has policies that hurt the working poor and those in poverty (which in NC affects over 20% of students) and the refusal to expand Medicaid and the other policies that hurt poorer regions, it is almost certain that poverty would have as much if not a bigger role in the school performance grades released today .

Guess what else happened in 2022?

Voucher expansion!

Read that first line again: “due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students.”

That “critical need” has been created in part by making sure that many schools look bad – i.e., school performance grades. Students who live in poverty in a state that refuses to attack the very issue of poverty will become potential targets for “reform” efforts.

Those are exactly the students who will be targeted for expanding vouchers and new charter schools, because the Opportunity Grants are supposed to help “low-income” students and newer charter schools are being created simply to provide “choice.”

Lawmakers and education “reformers” know damn well the difference between proficiency and growth – the less proficient public schools look in the eyes of the public through a lens that the NC General Assembly prescribes, the more growth for “reforms.”

North Carolina Is Actually Financing Three State School “Systems” – Another Attack On Public Education

An explanation of how a smaller piece of the revenue pie is funding public schools because money is being siphoned off to other “initiative” such as:

  • Charter Schools
  • Vouchers
  • Tax Breaks to Corporations
  • Sunshine Fund That Has Billions

Go back a couple of decades.

And about 57-62% of that budget would be directed toward public education in North Carolina.

But in the last decade with “reforms” has caused a per-pupil expenditure that is lower than it was before the Great Recession when adjusted for inflation.

And the money that is “allocated” for education is siphoned in different directions.

And it is interesting to whom each of these school “systems” are really accountable to.

And how transparent they really are.

So, what we really have in North Carolina is this:

Two Days Until LEANDRO Hearing: A Look At Some Numbers

The following numbers come from a post by Clayton Henkel at NC Policy Watch today.

K-12 students:

1.4 million — Number of public school students in North Carolina returning to class this week

130,000 — Number attending charter schools

126,000 — Number attending charter schools in 2020-2021

160,528 — Number learning in a homeschooling setting (2021-22 school year)

14,408 — Estimated enrollment of home schoolers in Wake County, which has the largest enrollment of homeschoolers in the state

20,377 — Number of students who received vouchers to enroll in more than 500 nonpublic schools last year

$56 million — Increase NC lawmakers included in the state budget for the Opportunity Scholarship (voucher) Program.

51 — Percentage of eligible North Carolina 4-year-olds enrolled in the public NC Pre-K program (Source: myfutureNC.org)

75 — Percentage of eligible 4-year-olds in each county enrolled in NC Pre-K in North Carolina by 2030, according to the state’s goal

76% — More than three-quarters of students still attend traditional public schools

$9,958 — North Carolina’s per-pupil spending places the state at 43rd in the nation. (Source: Census.gov)

$11,532 — South Carolina’s per-pupil K-12 spending (Ibid)

$10,954 — Average per-pupil spending in the South (Ibid)

$865 — Average amount per U.S. household planned for back-to-school spending this year

In higher education:

244,508
 — Number of students enrolled in the UNC system (2021 system enrollment report)

500,000+ — Enrollment in North Carolina’s Community College System, a network of 58 public community colleges

2 million — Number of adults with a post-secondary degree or high-quality credential by 2030, according to the state’s goal (Source: myfutureNC.org)

1.2 million — Number of North Carolinians ages 25-44 who hold an associate’s degree or higher

Our teaching workforce:

23,418 — Number of North Carolina teachers who have earned National Board Certification, the highest credential in the teaching profession

23% — Percentage of all teachers in the state holding the National Board Certification

$54,150 — Average annual teacher salary in North Carolina

24.5% — The “pay penalty” — the compensation disparity — between North Carolina teachers and other comparable college-educated workers

11,297 — Number of teacher and staff vacancies superintendents reported earlier this month just ahead of the new school year

1,342 — Number of bus driver vacancies across the state as of Aug. 19

2013 — Year that North Carolina lawmakers removed salary increases for educators with advanced degrees

11 — Number of days since a subcommittee of the state Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission voted 9-3 to ask the State Board of Education to seek reinstatement “master’s pay” in hopes of improving teacher retention

$526 — Average amount  North Carolina teachers spend of their own money to buy classroom supplies for their students

2 — Number of days remaining before the Leandro school funding case returns to the NC Supreme Court — education advocates will hold a press conference and prayer vigil at 9 a.m. ahead of Wednesday’s court hearing, at 2 E. Morgan St., Raleigh

Supt. Truitt Is The Last Person To Criticize College Debt Forgiveness. Why?

It’s funny that our state superintendent post the following tweet in response to President Biden’s announcement of college loan forgiveness for many in the nation (and NC).

Why? Because it’s just highly hypocritical coming from her.

Here’s the post.

That’s rich coming from the person who was the initial chancellor of the state’s “franchise” of a private online university that has historically low graduation rates and received taxpayer money to become embedded in NC.

Remember this? It was proposed rather secretly within the 2015 budget – page 86 to be specific.

WGU1

On May 21, 2015, Sarah Ovaska-Few reported on the controversial online college known as Western Governors University and its shady introduction to North Carolina in “Controversial online college on its way to North Carolina?” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/05/21/controversial-online-college-on-its-way-to-north-carolina/).

Some of the more eye-opening, yet not surprising elements of that report included:

  • “A controversial online university that credits students for their existing skills and knowledge could soon have a larger role in North Carolina, with a funding stream carved out in the state House’s version of the budget.”
  • “Though WGU is not named directly in the budget, a reference deep in the 317-page proposed budget (pages 86 and 87) written by House Republicans would allow a private online school that uses the competency model of education to receive some of the nearly $90 million slated for need-based scholarships the state provides to low-income students attending private colleges and universities in the state.”
  • “The online school is also quick to accept students’ previous college credits, but once students began taking classes at WGU, it can be difficult to get those classes recognized outside the online university, Pressnell said.”
  • “WGU’s six-year completion or graduation rate is only about 38 percent, a number that WGU hopes to raise to over 60 percent in coming years, said Mitchell, the spokeswoman for the Utah-based online university.”

And then there is this:

Rather than use the time in the previous 18 months since she has been in office to campaign for a better solution to the horrible principal pay program before it came into effect at the worst possible time, Truitt is using taxpayer money in the form of COVID relief money to avoid bad public relations.

And speaking of taxpayer money being used to bail out someone (credit to Kris Nordstrom):

Yes. That’s her husband.

So before Truitt even starts to think about showing how her “taxes” have been raised to “pay” for this debt relief for NC citizens, maybe she could comment on the constant lowering of corporate tax rates in NC when there is a major court decision called LEANDRO that states that NC has vastly underfunded public education for decades.

But until that happens maybe she can address the hypocrisy of her stint at Western Governors University, her use of taxpayer money to avoid ugly publicity, and her husband’s forgiven PPP loans that dwarf any person’s college debt affected by the recent action by Biden.

The Classroom Library – Getting More Students To Read

If you teach reading or language arts in any capacity in a public school, one of the most dynamic resources you can offer your students is a classroom library.

No, not a bookshelf with copies and class sets of school bought books and ancillary materials from past (and now ancient) textbook adoptions.

But actual individual books. Varied in nature. Spanning multiple genres. Written by people of various backgrounds.

Books that have been read. Dog-eared. Annotated. Crinkled spines.

Books that you are familiar with so when a student asks about them, you can discuss why that book has merit.

Books that you don’t mind go missing for long periods of time because it is possibly being read by someone who may never have had a chance to read it before.

As a veteran teacher, I have always had a small shelf of books that I have read and taught on display for students to peruse. However, one of the wonderful aspects of being a veteran teacher is gleaning new ideas from new young teachers. One of those was creating an authentic reading library in the classroom that possessed a wide variety of texts that students were allowed to borrow from and read.

So, I expanded the small bookshelf into something bigger.

All of those books in my house still in boxes that need to be given away? They came to my classroom.

When the school library started replacing texts with new titles, I took the older books and placed them in my classroom.

When I went to Goodwill, I scanned the books and purchased ones that I had read before or had some sort of link to what students might be interested in.

When I go to a public library, I go to the section sometimes called “Friends of the Library” where they sell donated texts for small amounts of money as a fundraiser and put them in my classroom. Almost 100 titles have come from the Greene County Public Library in Greensboro, GA, my hometown of 4,000 people. It resides on the same block as my childhood home where my grandmother still lives. Ian McEwan, Mark Twain, J. M. Coetzee, Frank McCourt, Michael Chabon, Shel Silverstein, Somerset Maugham, and others have traveled from that small town to my classroom.

Why do this? Because students need to see teachers enmeshed in the very subject they teach and see those same teachers as students still hungry to learn more and willing to follow curiosities. It expands the workable “canon” of the course. It provides opportunity to create assignments based on choices and independent initiative.

Students need to feel safe enough to come to the “library” and pick something that might interest them. And as a teacher, I need to be fine with them taking a book and possibly dog-earing it more, crumpling more of the pages, or even not returning it.

But hopefully, it will get read by that student and maybe others.

More and more teachers I know in my own school and in other places have classroom libraries. Students notice this. It shows them that reading is one of the most authentically cool things to do, and what active independent reading does for students in other academic endeavors cannot be measured by standardized tests.

Besides, it shows students how nerdy I really am.

And I am proud of being a nerd.

Book5
Book4
Book3
Book2
Book1

What If Teachers Only Worked The Hours They Were Contracted For?

Over a course of ten months, North Carolina public school teachers are officially employed for 215 days. Students in North Carolina typically go to school at least 180 days a school year. Most LEA’s define a contracted day of work as being eight hours for a teacher.

Imagine what would happen if educators only worked for those contracted hours.

A lot less.

There is the daily prep work to make sure that classes are ready to be engaging. There are not enough planning periods in a day now to accommodate the needed time to adequately get prepared for each class each day. Many teachers have to use that time to create resources they should have already had provided.

The amount of tutoring that occurs before and after school would not be available. When students are absent, there has to be a time and space to make up instruction and any assessments.

In a world that seems to want everything measured with a grade, many don’t understand the amount of time it takes to grade work. Think of how long an English teacher has to take to give feedback on papers for just one class. Now multiply that by five.

There would be no clubs or after school activities for students who were not involved with sports. And yes, many school systems offer a stipend to coaches for their work on fields of competition, but do you really want to know what that comes to in real dollars per hour? Ask a coach.

What about all of those students who come to school early and leave late because there is no other place for them to be due to life circumstances beyond their control?

And it’s not a mystery that teachers have to eat lunch in a matter of minutes and be available to cover classes when needed.

Oh, there are duties as well.

Ask any teacher who has had to do LETRS training this past year how much time it takes to complete that outside of the classroom. Now imagine all of the required professional development that has to be done on a teacher’s own time.

If teachers and other educators were actually paid by the hour instead of by a salary, most of them would make so much more than they do now.

Now put all of that into the context of what the pandemic caused teachers to have to do.

It would be an understatement to state that teachers work above and beyond the call of a contract to make sure that students have multiple opportunities to learn authentically in a society that presents incredible obstacles. For most educators, it truly is about the kids.

But that drive to serve and that spirit to give does have a limit.

This state could do so much more to help educators in our public schools.

When NC’s Walking Contradiction Of A Lt. Gov. Actually Proves We Need To Teach As Much Science And Social Studies As Possible (Even In Elementary School)

He’s writing a memoir. Not sure what history he thinks he has made in public service.

He hasn’t completed a single term in office, created polarizing initiatives such as the indoctrination police in public schools, and spent more time on paid speaking engagements than most seasoned politicians.

Yet a recent report from WRAL.com about an upcoming memoir from the current Lt, Gov. is one of the best portraits of a hypocritical walking contradiction – one that actually is proving why we need to invest more in public education for the sake of our kids and future generations.

And he makes some really interesting comments:

So much for getting students interested in STEM especially in this ever-changing economy. Even more cringe-worthy is that he is sitting in an office in the Triangle – Raleigh specifically – which is right next to RESEARCH Triangle Park, one of the most important hubs of technology in the country.

Yep. The man without the science degree who hasn’t looked at the history of this very important topic beyond his partisan lenses makes an uneducated claim that global warming is “junk science.” When well over 95% of the world’s experts are adamantly united that it is not junk science, Robinson goes further and claims that most North Carolinians “know that global warming is junk.

Before the Supreme Court made its recent decision on the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade, the number one issue for Gen Z voters was climate change. Now throw in the added motivation of reproductive rights (and Robinson seems to know a things or two about those), and you have a really galvanized portion of the population that will more than happily let Robinson know how out of touch he is with “most people in North Carolina.”

This is what he said about the State Department of Education.

Talk about the need to study history in all grades.

When is the last time our legislature has gone to a local school board or school system for answers and concerns?

Robinson sure as hell has not. He set up a task force to “rat them out” on vague accusations of indoctrination. We even have in my school system a candidate for school board who is touting his endorsement.

And that “one entity” thing? A government official who says that one entity needs all of the power? To “expect to influence the way education is done?”

It’s about checks and balances. Like the one set up in a constitution.

Learned in a social studies class.

So, Robinson wants to continue a way for taxpayer money to fund three different school systems in this state – traditional, charters, and private schools (vouchers)?

Interestingly, this is a place where that need for “one entity” does not apply to Robinson’s selective reasoning.

But what is more disturbing is that blurb about public schools could become “a thing of the past.”

Our state constitution stipulates that North Carolina provides a free quality education for the public. Sadly ironic that a man wanting to be the top ranked official to defend that state constitution seems to be happily resigned to let public schools become a “thing of that past.”

You mean returned to parents and guardians who all have the time, money, and resources to allow the student to stay home and be educated on behavior?

For a man who thinks he knows how most people in the state feel about global warming, he sure doesn’t know the average family’s economic needs.

And does he stipulate what the curriculum for teaching a child proper behavior because his words about a woman’s role in marriage and society tell this parent whose own daughter is studying science at a state university that he is not qualified.

In a state that has the worst unemployment benefits in the nation, never extended Medicare when the federal government would finance it, and has the lowest federally allowed minimum wage, Robinson is not only proving he is ignorant, but painfully uneducated.

And he wants to control public education.

In some psychology class in a public university, that statement will be used to define a man who can’t stand to be around a woman who refuses to submit to a man.

Remember this?

After the Senate session, Robinson caught up with Mayfield outside the chamber and told her, “Next time, before you get ready to say something on that floor, come see me.” He then walked away quickly and didn’t respond to questions from startled onlookers.

And then there’s that myth that teachers are “grooming” students.

I am a teacher. I have never told a student, “Oh, you’re gay.” And the last I looked, schools don’t hold gay pride parades.

Wonder if Robinson understands the impact of generational wealth?

Maybe he didn’t get enough social studies classes?

Wonder what Robinson would say about this?

Nothing systemic there, right?

Local Supplements For Teachers Mean More Than You May Think (& Raleigh Knows That)

average pay

The above was a graphic proudly shown on the Sen. Phil Berger-enabled propaganda website  www.ncteacherraise.com about three years ago. The link to that site no longer works that well.

There were a lot of “spun” numbers and claims on that website which were easily debunked with more context and clarity.

But that value amount for the average teacher salary as it stood actually was “correct,” but it included all of the advanced degree pay still given to veteran teachers that has been taken away from newer teachers. And do not forget that the average pay will decrease over time as the highest salary a new teacher could make in the newest budget is a little over 50k.

That average salary also is counting another another financial factor that people like Berger want to get credit for but do not deserve known as the “local supplement.”

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

What gets twisted here is that in creating local supplements for teachers many mitigating factors come into light and when North Carolina began bragging about the new average salary it was telling you that Raleigh was placing more of a burden on local districts to create a positive spin on GOP policies.

The past few budgets that were actually passed cut monies to the Department of Public Instruction, therefore limiting DPI’s abilities to disperse ample amounts of money to local county and city districts for various initiatives like professional development and support. When local central offices have less money to work with, they then have to prioritize their needs to match their financial resources. That means some school systems cannot offer a sizable local supplement to teachers because they are scrambling to fulfill other needs that a fully funded state public school system would already offer.

And it is not just about whether to have a couple of program managers for the district. It’s about whether to allow class sizes to be bigger so that more reading specialists can be put into third grade classes, or more teacher assistants to help special needs kids like mine succeed in lower grades. Or even physical resources like software and desks.

What the current GOP-led NCGA did was to create a situation where local districts had to pick up more of the tab to fund everyday public school functions.

What adds to this is that this governing body is siphoning more and more tax money to entities like charter schools, Opportunity Grants, an ISD district (STILL), and other privatizing efforts.

Look at the interactive table of 2021-2022 local supplements offered by each LEA for which a portion is shown.

You can find a lot of info here.

Charlotte-Meck and Wake County offer local teacher supplements of over $8,000. The state average is a little over $5,000.

Over 100 LEA’s have a local supplement under that state average.

There are a few districts that cannot afford a teacher supplement or one for administrators.

These differences can add up.

For a younger teacher, that can swing a decision. And we in WSFCS get a lot of teacher candidates. Look at the teacher preparation programs that surround us – Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State, Salem College, App State, and UNCG just to name a few that actually place student teachers in my school.

Simply put, local supplements are a big deal and complicated. It gets more complicated when the state starts placing more financial burdens on LEA’s to fulfill state mandates.

For a veteran teacher like myself, a competitive local supplement could mean that I feel valued by the very system that still lacks enough teachers to start the school year fully staffed. For a new teacher, it could be the difference to taking talents, energy, and drive to a particular school system and becoming a part of the community.

So, what can a district’s community do to help teachers come and stay in a particular district?

  • They can look at local supplements as a way of investing rather than being taxed.
  • They can go and vote for candidates on the state level who support public education.
  • They can go and vote for county commissioners who are committed to helping fully fund public schools.
  • And they can go and investigate how all of the financing of schools works. It is not as black and white as some may believe it is. Rather it is very much interconnected.
  • THEY CAN MAKE SURE TO HAVE LOCAL OFFICIALS PRESSURE THE STATE TO FULLY FUND STATE MANDATES AND NOT PUT THE BURDEN ON LEA’s/

The current culture in our state has not been very kind to public school teachers. Competitive local supplements could go a long way in showing value in public schools.

Because the state will certainly use them to pad their numbers on how well teachers are being paid.