To Senators Jim Davis, Phil Berger, Representatives Roger West and Thom Tillis:
Last night, the Macon County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution which calls into question three areas of concern:
(1) The $120 million cut to vital teacher assistants which represents a further 21% cut of their already low staffing levels.
(2) The creation of a voucher program which will divert public monies to private, for-profit, and in some cases, sectarian schools.
(3) The elimination of career-status a.k.a. “tenure” for all teachers by July of 2018.
Teacher assistants are a necessity, not a luxury for the provision of an adequate education as guaranteed by our state constitution, could you please revisit this issue to restore funding to previous levels, or, at the very least, not cut these personnel further?
The concern over vouchers stems from the fact that the institutions to which these scarce tax dollars will be diverted do not have to provide services to all students as the public schools do. The concern is that those students with the greatest needs will be left behind in the public schools. Earlier this year, founder of the Asheville New City Christian School, Ms. Coral Jeffries, wrote to the editor to demonstrate her support for the voucher bill. I investigated her school’s website and found this disturbing information:
“New City Christian School is a small private school with limited resources compared to the public schools and many private schools. If your child has special needs that exceed the ability of our staff to adequately address and meet in a typical classroom setting, we encourage you to seek another school that would be better equipped to meet your child’s unique needs”
So schools like New Christian will be able to receive public dollars but will only have to serve the part of the public they want or are able to while the schools which must serve everybody are having their budgets cut. We would ask you to revisit the logic of such a policy not to mention the constitutional mine field which stems from diverting public tax dollars to sectarian institutions.
The elimination of career-status, especially for teachers who have already earned it through years of dedicated professional service to the children of North Carolina is perhaps the most hurtful, puzzling, and legally questionable. Senator Davis has told me on more than one occasion that he has been reassured by our former superintendent Dr. Frank Yeager, that career status didn’t keep administrators from getting rid of bad teachers. So why get rid of it?
My fellow teachers and I, the parents, children, administrators, and the Macon School Board can only hope and pray in good faith that you are able to revisit the issues addressed in the resolution to prevent further injury to North Carolina’s longstanding reputation as a leader in delivering high quality public education for its citizens.
Franklin High School
Macon County Schools