Wednesday, July 24, 2013

North Carolina Problems



I am probably about to break the biggest rule about blogging and I'm really sorry about it. It's about to get political. If you want to stop reading now, here is your chance.

I am hoping that my fellow North Carolina teachers know all about this already. Our State Senators and Representatives have just passed a new budget. According to the NCAE (North Carolina Association of Educators) here are the things we all need to know about this budget's effects on education:

"TOP 10 Things Every Educator Should Know About the Budget

1. Eliminates 9,306.5 education positions -- 5,184.5 teachers, 3,850 teacher assistants, and 272 Support Personnel (guidance counselors, psychologist, etc.).
2. Provides NO pay increases for educators, continuing North Carolina’s race to the bottom of national salaries. In 2007-08 North Carolina was ranked 25th in the nation in teacher pay, last year our state was 46th. With no additional pay, next year North Carolina undoubtedly will be at the bottom.
3. While gutting public schools and educators, the legislature adopted a $50 million school voucher program ($10 million 2013-14, $40 million in 2014-15).
4. The North Carolina Budget eliminates career status for all teachers. Senate legislation, that received no public hearings in the House, was placed in the budget to eliminate career status for teachers. The new standard requires each school district to identify the top 25% of effective teachers without providing any criteria on how to accomplish this ranking of professionals. Teachers will be placed on a 1, 2, or 4 year contract. The top 25% will be given the option of receiving $500 to compensate them for the loss of due process rights. NOTE: the new system will be phased in over the course of the next five years.
5. North Carolina no longer values educators who work on their continuing education through Masters or Doctorate level degrees. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, educators will receive no additional pay for additional degrees unless your job requires (counselors, school psychologists, etc.)
6. Grades Schools (A-F), 80% based on standardized test scores, 20% based on growth. No other variables will be considered in this grading.
7. Eliminates the Teaching Fellows Program, once viewed as a national model for recruiting teachers into the classroom, the program is no longer funded.
8. Reduces targeted education funding:
• Cuts Textbook funding by $77.4 million dollars;
• Cuts Classroom supply funding by $45.7 million dollars;
• Cuts Limited English Proficiency funding by $6 million dollars.
9. Retired educators will receive NO Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA).
10. The General Assembly will be back next year."


My Thoughts and Concerns: 
1. 5,184 teaching positions eliminated. Say that classes are around 20 students each, this leaves 103,680 students without a teacher. (Oh, by the way, the budget also lifts the cap on class sizes so we will probably see that number dramatically increase).

2. No, no teacher went into the business for the money. However, we all need to be able to survive. As a first (now a second) year teacher, I make the least amount. It was in my plan to start graduate school this fall. This goal became impractical due to my budget (and now, this budget see #5).

3. Instead of investing in our public schools, it seems that the legislators have given up. Instead, we citizens are now supporting private businesses with the voucher program. This voucher program has failed on both the federal (DC Public Schools) and state (Indiana) level previously.

4. Performance based pay to be based on student achievement on standardized tests.

5. From Phil Berger's Chief of Staff "Graduate degrees have little to no effect on student achievement." At a time when other states are paying for teachers to go and receive advanced degrees, our representatives are telling us they do not matter.

6. 80% on standardized test scores, 20% on growth?! THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Students are students, not test scores. If I have a 5th grader that enters my classroom on a 3rd grade level and by the end of the year, that student is on a 4th grade level, isn't that a great achievement?!

7. With no Teaching Fellows Program and the lowest pay in the nation, what will North Carolina have to recruit the best teachers?

8. The saddest part about this is I entered my 5th grade classroom this year and was given a set of science books which were published in 2000. Let me put that in perspective for you, I was in 5th grade in 2000. I barely touched those books this year and I know that the movement is away from the use of textbooks. However, it would have been great to have something to base my curriculum off of.

9. Let's just hope that the cost of living doesn't change. Ever.

So what is my point? 
- If you are in North Carolina, please try to attend Moral Monday in Raleigh on 7/29.

- Contact Governor McCrory:
PENC has a form letter here: https://www.votervoice.net/PENC/Campaigns/33039/Respond#.UfBnhoL2do4.facebook
OR e-mail/call http://www.governor.state.nc.us/contact

- Follow the NCAE for updates: https://www.facebook.com/wearencae

6 comments:

  1. I would strongly encourage your and your fellow NC teachers to find out who your legistlators are and call them. Far too often we rely on everyone else to by our voice. It is time that teachers stand up and be their own voice. The people at the capitols are making decisions based on financial needs, without thinking and realizing how that affects individual classrooms.

    Erin

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  2. I agree completely! I've sent my e-mails and called/left messages. Hopefully this will help inform others and they will follow suit. :)

    Liz

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  3. This whole thing makes me angry. Additionally, I am 4 credits away from finishing my Masters and I'm told now that I cannot get the pay for it because I'd have to be finished by April 1st to be grandfathered in (if they're even doing that anymore). I graduate May 9th. I let my National Board lapse because I couldn't afford to pay for that and my Master's classes at the same time. My thinking was that the Masters' pay would be permanent and would make sense. Of course I found out about this after it was already too late to renew my National Boards. I am so frustrated with the state of North Carolina right now. Calling and signing the petition hasn't done any good. Guess I'll be getting a second job. :(

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    1. I'm so sorry! I feel your pain. It's stories like this that put it all in perspective. Missing the masters pay deadline by a month must be devastating. I know you've worked hard for it! Hopefully, some miracle happens and Governor McCrory vetoes it. Don't give up on contacting him, especially with your story! We're in for a scary year if nothing changes.

      Liz

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  4. Good luck NC teachers, Tennessee teachers are under the same legislative attacks via our governor, legislatures and state board of education.

    Proud Tennessee Education Association member,

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your support! I hope that things start looking up for both NC and Tennessee! Good luck.

      Liz

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