Kicking or Kissing Butt, Taking Names, and Saving Face

Yes. This teacher wants a raise.

I think that we deserve more compensation for the job that we as public school teachers do, especially in light that we rank very low in teacher pay compared to the surrounding states (or even the nation).

Ever since the great recession hit and our pay scale was frozen by Raleigh, many teachers have had to reconsider staying in the profession or had to add another job to the fray to keep a standard of living that allowed us to raise families the way we wanted to. Some teachers have even moved to other states.

But more than a raise, I would say that what I really want as a veteran teacher is respect from the very state government that controls the very salary that I make. That’s because if a profession is respected, then those who seek its services are willing to pay a competitive market value to keep those services.

And North Carolina is not paying a competitive salary for its teachers. In fact, with the removal of graduate degree pay, frozen salary schedules, the implementation of a grading system that will always cast a negative light on public schools, and a reduction of money spent per pupil, the idea of gaining respect for the teaching profession from Raleigh is a wish I can only make to Santa Claus.

So when I hear the governor speak of raising salaries and offering bonuses, my ears become acutely sensitive. But then I realize the context of the remarks he made about his budget proposal and I see a clear motive for the governor’s pay plan.

HB2 has definitely take a toll on both North Carolina and the governor’s reputation. It is his face the rest of the nation sees in a press conference not defending his signing of the law. No one else in the General Assembly has really even publicly defended the law, except Sen. Phil Berger, and that really wasn’t a defense but rather a digging of his heels into the ground about his stance. No defense has even been heard from the primary sponsors of the bill: Representatives Bishop, Howard, Stam, and Bishop.

When the governor finally talked about HB2 on Meet the Press, he made mention that he has stood up against his GOP legislature when needed. He gave that air of someone who could “kick butt and take names” when it mattered most for the state of North Carolina.

Yet, his handful of vetoes in the last three years, an ability to kowtow to the state legislature and its GOP leadership, a refusal to answer questions publicly to our own state’s press, and his dropping poll numbers really show that he is not a “kick butt and take names” person, but more of a “kiss butt and save face” person.

Gov. McCrory needs teachers to vote for him because teachers are very hypervigilant when it comes to educational issues. And I believe teachers will show up to the polls in November. Everybody will. Look what’s happening in the presidential race. Who wouldn’t want to go to the conventions with all that is transpiring now?

When over 90 percent of the counties in North Carolina have the local school system as the largest or second largest employer, the need to reach teachers and convey sincerity is crucial in a reelection campaign. And the governor saying that he will propose raises and bonuses may seem more like a red herring to draw attention away from the HB2 fallout and his shabby handling of it.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported the governor’s brief outline for amending teacher pay. In the April 23, 2016 edition it ran an AP report that stated:

All current teachers with up to 24 years of experience — or 84 percent of the workforce — would get permanent raises next school year from $500 to $5,000. Teachers also would reach the top-scale salary of $50,000 sooner — in their 20th year, compared to 25 years today.

 

McCrory also wants to return to the previous expectation that most teachers will get a slight salary increase with each additional year on the job. Legislators changed the salary schedule in 2014 so experienced-based increases come every five years or so. School superintendents and administrators asked McCrory to seek annual step raises again for teachers, according to McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis.

 

Teachers currently at the top scale wouldn’t get a permanent raise but $5,000 bonuses, with $1,100 bonuses for the less experienced teachers. Previously, McCrory’s office said the permanent pay raises would cost $247 million annually and the bonuses would have a one-time cost of $165 million. The state’s projected $237 million surplus should help pay for these increases.

 

This veteran teacher’s wallet likes hearing that, but my gut says something different will actually happen. Why?

First, this is a governor whose administration has allowed the following to happen without a fight:

  • The removal of the Teacher Fellows Program.
  • The financing of failing charter schools.
  • The implementation of Opportunity Grants.
  • The implementation of a Jeb Bush public school grading system.
  • The removal of longevity pay.
  • The removal of a respected leader in Tom Ross and the hiring of Margaret Spellings, the architect of No Child Left Behind (No Child Left Untested).
  • The refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • The removal of tax deductions that many people used in order to make tax cuts affordable.

In other words, Gov. McCrory didn’t go against his own party and take a “kick butt and take names” attitude.

Secondly, that tax surplus that he intends to help pay for these raises should evaporate quickly considering the amount of money being lost from the state and local economies from national HB2 backlash.

If there was respect for the teaching profession in Raleigh throughout the governor’s administration, this conversation would never take place. But it has become a sort of shield for McCrory amidst the HB2 debacle. And now he seems to be mollifying teachers like a dead-beat dad who neglects his kids and tries buy their love with wonderful Christmas presents.

That’s just “kissing butt to save face” for a reelection bid.

And my ass doesn’t need to be kicked or kissed. It needs to be valued.

Now, back to Santa. I did ask him about getting some respect from our state legislature. And true to his nature, he did say that we can get this present earlier than December 25th.

It comes on November 8th when we are allowed to vote.

Open letter to Rep. Julia Howard – Why are you a primary sponsor of HB2 and not defending it?

Dear Rep. Julia Howard (R) – Davie, Forsyth County,

The April 3, 2016 edition of the Winston-Salem Journal carried a front-page article from Richard Craver entitled “Lawyers: law has wider impact” which talked about the variety of implications of HB2 other than the “bathroom” issue.

While it is no secret that I and many others in North Carolina and outside the state have voiced a very adamant opposition to this bill, I want why you voted for it.

Rather, I should ask you why you were a PRIMARY SPONSOR of HB2.

It is my understanding that when bills are brought to the floor, they must be sponsored, but only four representatives can be listed as “primary sponsors”. All others are “co-sponsors”. If your name is attached to a bill as a primary sponsor when there were many co-sponsors, then you must have really wanted to be associated with this bill.

So I have a list of questions that I would like for you to answer.

Question #1 – Why have you not defended this bill in public?

I find it hard to believe that a 14-term state representative who has been a primary sponsor of such a lightning rod piece of legislation has not been outspoken in its defense. While the governor has been fighting off valid criticism with empty answers and glittering generalities, I have not heard your defense of this bill. If you are content in letting the governor’s words suffice for your own justification of this legislature, then I would reconsider.

Governor McCrory issued on his website a “Myths vs. Facts” outline to defend your bill.  You may find it at http://governor.nc.gov/press-release/myths-vs-facts-what-new-york-times-huffington-post-and-other-media-outlets-arent.

But there is one thing about that link. As of today, April 3rd, at least I (and I am sure many others) are no longer allowed access to it probably because it was taken down. However, I have a copy of the original posting that I will include at the end of this letter.  Once you refer to that, then I would invite you to read Politifact’s response and explain how it is wrong – http://www.politifact.com/north-carolina/statements/2016/mar/30/pat-mccrory/pat-mccrory-wrong-when-he-says-north-carolinas-new/.

I believe it has taken down because the explanation was just as faulty as the bill it was trying to defend. If the explanation of the “common sense” of this law has to be amended, then imagine how logically invalid the actual bill was.

Question #2 – Why rush this bill through in a one-day special session?

I think I know the answer to this. I think a lot of people know the answer to this. It is because this bill is about a power grab and not protecting people.

If you look at the time table of how the bill was introduced and voted upon in a one-day session, you can see how surreptitiously HB2 came into being. Just look at the “Chamber Action” summary of the bill.

History 
Date Chamber Action Documents Vote
03/23/2016 House Filed DRH40005-TC-1B
03/23/2016 House Passed 1st Reading
03/23/2016 House Ref To Com On Judiciary IV
03/23/2016 House Reptd Fav
03/23/2016 House Cal Pursuant Rule 36(b)
03/23/2016 House Added to Calendar
03/23/2016 House Amend Tabled A1 A1: H2-AMS-1-V-5 FAIL: 35-72
03/23/2016 House Amend Failed A2 A2: H2-AMS-2-V-4 FAIL: 35-72
03/23/2016 House Amend Adopted A3 A3: H2-A-NBC-1222 PASS: 107-0
03/23/2016 House Amend Adopted A4 A4: H2-ATC-1-V-1 PASS: 108-0
03/23/2016 House Passed 2nd Reading PASS: 82-26
03/23/2016 House Passed 3rd Reading PASS: 82-26
03/23/2016 House Ordered Engrossed
03/23/2016 House Special Message Sent To Senate
03/23/2016 Senate Special Message Received From House
03/23/2016 Senate Passed 1st Reading
03/23/2016 Senate Ref To Com On Judiciary II
03/23/2016 Senate Reptd Fav
03/23/2016 Senate Placed on Today’s Calendar
03/23/2016 Senate Passed 2nd Reading Roll Call Vote PASS
03/23/2016 Senate Passed 3rd Reading PASS
03/23/2016 Senate Ordered Enrolled
03/23/2016 Ratified
03/23/2016 Pres. To Gov. 3/23/2016
03/23/2016 Signed by Gov. 3/23/2016
03/23/2016 Ch. SL 2016-3

 

Wow! It took me longer to write this open letter than it did for you and your constituents to present this bill and then ramrod it through a successful passage. Those people who barely had time to review the bill and its implications probably did not know the ramifications of their votes. That probably explains the fact that there were democrats who voted for the bill. Yet you may claim it is pure bipartisanship.

What this time frame really means is that you knew if people in the General Assembly had ample opportunity to review it, then it would have had a much harder time to pass. What this time frame really means is that you wanted to make sure it passed without any investigation because as a primary sponsor, you knew that the fine print had far reaching repercussions.

 

Question #3 – Do you really know what HB2 did?

If you are touting that this bill really does protect women and children throughout the state, then explain to me what was reported in the WS Journal this morning. Craver in his article states, “The law removes state court as an option for discrimination lawsuits against employers.”

Again, wow!

So the protection of women and children in Charlotte comes in the form of allowing any business in the state to discriminate against anyone based on gender, religion, creed, nationality, race, gender identity, etc. and not have a legal recourse in state court?

Furthermore, the HB2 bill also places restrictions on “communities’ ability to pursue the best contracts possible since they can no longer require private contractors to pay a wage that’s in line with the local economy.”  In essence, you helped ensure that Raleigh can tell the local communities what they should be able to pay private contractors for work that probably would never affect you personally, but would keep local citizens from making an affordable wage in jobs contracted by cities.

That very notion of a bigger government body telling a local municipality what it can and cannot do doesn’t even sound Republican., especially for someone who is a 14-term Republican.

Question #4 – Do you really care?

I think you do care how it will reflect on you.

You are one of seventeen republicans running in the primary for the newly redefined 13th Congressional District of North Carolina for the U.S. House of Representatives. Might I add that you were part of the effort to redraw the district lines and then another redrawing them because of “gerrymandering” that occurred in the first effort.

It will be interesting to see how you are able to defend your primary sponsorship of HB2 if you become a more visible candidate for this seat by winning the primary.

Rep. Howard, I would invite any answer to these questions.

Who better to explain the common sense of the Public Facilities Privacy and Securities Act than it’s primary sponsor?

Sincerely,

Stuart Egan
A resident of Forsyth County, right across the river from you

 

 

Myths vs. Facts – from Gov. McCrory’s website

1. Does the new bill limit or prohibit private sector companies from adopting their own nondiscrimination policies or practices?
Answer: No. Businesses are not limited by this bill. Private individuals, companies and universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies.
2. Does this bill take away existing protections for individuals in North Carolina?
Answer: No. In fact, for the first time in state history, this law establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy in North Carolina which is tougher than the federal government’s. This also means that the law in North Carolina is not different when you go city to city.
3. Can businesses and private facilities still offer reasonable accommodations for transgender people, like single occupancy bathrooms for instance?
Answer: Yes. This bill allows and does nothing to prevent businesses, and public or private facilities from providing single use bathrooms.
4. Can private businesses, if they choose, continue to allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom, locker room or other facilities of the gender they identify with, or provide other accommodations?
Answer: Yes. That is the prerogative of private businesses under this new law. For instance, if a privately-owned sporting facility wants to allow attendees of sporting events to use the restroom of their choice, or install unisex bathrooms, they can. The law neither requires nor prohibits them from doing so.
5. Does this law prohibit towns, cities or counties in North Carolina from setting their own nondiscrimination policies in employment that go beyond state law?
Answer: No. Town, cities and counties in North Carolina are still allowed to set stricter non-discrimination policies for their own employees if they choose.
6. Does this bill mean transgender people will always have to use the restroom of the sex of their birth, even if they have undergone a sex change?
Answer: No. This law simply says people must use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. Anyone who has undergone a sex change can change their sex on their birth certificate.
7. I’m worried about how this new law affects transgender children or students in North Carolina. Does this bill allow bullying against transgender children in schools?
Answer: Absolutely not. North Carolina law specifically prohibits bullying and harassing behavior against children on the basis of sexual identity.
8. Does this bill affect people with disabilities?
Answer: No. Statewide law also bans discrimination based on disability.
9. Why did North Carolina pass this law in the first place?
Answer: The bill was passed after the Charlotte City Council voted to impose a regulation requiring businesses to allow a man into a women’s restroom, shower, or locker room if they choose. This ordinance would have eliminated the basic expectations of privacy people have when using the rest room by allowing people to use the restroom of their choice. This new local regulation brought up serious privacy concerns by parents, businesses and others across the state, as well as safety concerns that this new local rule could be used by people who would take advantage of this to do harm to others.
In fact, the Charlotte City Council tried to pass this ordinance before but failed, and passed the same ordinance in February of 2016 despite serious concerns from state officials, business leaders and other concerned citizens.
10. What about parents or caregivers bringing children into the restroom?
Answer: The law provides exceptions to young children accompanied by parents or care givers.
11. Will this bill threaten federal funding for public schools under Title IX?
Answer: No, according to a federal court which has looked at a similar issue.
12. Will this bill prevent people from receiving medical attention in an emergency?
Answer: Absolutely not. Nothing will prevent people from receiving medical attention in public or private accommodations.
13. Will this bill affect North Carolina’s ability to create or recruit jobs?
Answer: This bill does not affect companies in North Carolina. North Carolina was one of the top states to do business in the country before this law was passed, and preventing Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance from going into effect on April 1 won’t change that.
14. Why is the state telling cities and towns what it can and can’t do by repealing an ordinance the elected members of the Charlotte City Council passed?
Answer: North Carolina is one of at least 37 states like Virginia where cities and towns cannot pass rules or regulations that exceed the authority given to them by the state. In passing the bathroom ordinance, Charlotte was exceeding its authority and setting rules that had ramifications beyond the City of Charlotte. The legislature acted to address privacy and safety concerns if this ordinance was allowed to go into effect on April 1.
15. Do any other regulations in North Carolina cities, towns or counties come close to what Charlotte was recommending?
Answer: No. Not that we are aware of. Therefore, nothing changes in North Carolina cities, towns and counties, including in Charlotte, regarding discrimination practices and protections now that this law has passed.
16. Did only Republicans vote for this bill?
Answer: No. 11 Democrats voted for this bill in the N.C. House of Representatives and no Democratic Senators voted against it. In fact, Democratic Senators walked out to avoid voting on the issue at all because many were going to vote for it and they did not want show their division.
17. Why did the Legislature call a special session to overturn the bathroom ordinance?
Answer: The new Charlotte ordinance, which would have required all businesses to change their restroom policies and take away the expectation of privacy people have when using the restroom, was going to go into effect on April 1 if no action was taken.
18. Is North Carolina at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting jobs because it does not have ordinances like the one Charlotte was proposing?
Answer: No. In fact in the last 3 years without an ordinance like this, North Carolina has created the 6th most jobs in the country – over 260,000 net new jobs. We know of no examples of companies being recruited to North Carolina that have asked if the state has an ordinance like the one Charlotte was proposing.