Teachers rule

by | Sep 3, 2013 | Editor's Blog, Education, NCGA, NCGov | 21 comments

Teachers in North Carolina are pissed. Not just members of the North Carolina Association of Educators but the rank and file who go to work, do their jobs and then are under-appreciated and under-compensated. Now, they watch as the Governor and legislature defend giving unqualified political appointees huge raises while schools are told to suffer.

Republican legislators want to equate all teachers with NCAE, but that’s like saying every Republican is a member of the Tea Party. Most teachers are hard-working members of our communities who had certain expectations about their careers that were derailed by this session of the General Assembly. But the GOP is giving NCAE a great recruitment tool.

The Republicans say they’re fixing our education system. However, there’s very little evidence it was broken. Since the Hunt reforms, our test scores have gone up, our drop out rate has gone down and every year we’re setting records for graduation rates. A large part of those reforms was moving teacher salaries to the national average.

However, there was plenty in government that needed fixing. In particular, they could have gotten rid of a lot of political cronyism. Instead, the GOP gave Pat McCrory more than a thousand additional patronage positions. We see what he’s doing with them–hiring unqualified workers and overpaying them.

Salary-gate won’t die and it’s the teachers that are driving it. They were scapegoats during the legislative session and now they feel disrespected by the Governor. The problem for Republicans is that everyone knows and respects teachers, particularly in small towns and rural areas. At election time, those folks are more likely to trust a teacher than a politician.


  1. Kit

    Please don’t forget to include instructors in the community colleges. We are dealing with cutbacks and larger enrollments: overcrowded classrooms, libraries that now must close on Fridays, tutoring services cut back, and like our K-12 colleagues, no pay raises — flat with no county contributions to our salaries. Like most teachers, I work three jobs just to make ends meet. I am very concerned for our community colleges. We have lost many experienced educators over the past year, some because of flat salaries and low morale, and others have chosen early retirement to seek jobs in the private sector. Having to find ways to cut back, some community colleges are postponing new educational programs where actual jobs are needed in this state! This is a huge disservice to our citizens who need jobs and training to get those jobs. Legislators and Gov. McCrory have it all wrong. What they did was self-serving and cruel, and I don’t see how cutting education in the budget better serves the state and its citizens.

    • Thomas Mills

      Thanks for reminding us. The cuts to education are so deep and widespread, it’s hard to track them all.

  2. Emily P.

    I like the t-shirt idea, and I hope that Politics NC runs a photo and article on your school—hint , hint 😉

  3. Red4EdNC

    I am a 20 year veteran high school social studies teacher. At my school, we have founded a grassroots organization that we hope will spread statewide. So far we have sold over 400 red “Education Demonstration in Progress” shirts and we are asking everyone who supports strong public schools to show it by wearing “Red 4 Ed on Wed.” until the laws change. We would love for you to join us!

  4. Colleen Barnhill,

    We have been going though the same things in Jersey for few years now. What needs to happen is the Teacher’s Unions need to unite around this country. We used to be one of the biggest political voices and strongest unions in this country. It is time to take our profession back. North Carolina Teachers you are not alone.

  5. tchr4lifeinNC

    I just wish parents around my county would open their eyes! I’m tired of beating a dead tree! Unless the can see this physically hurting their child, nothing will get done! I’m one pissed off parent first then a teacher second. I hate seeing what this is doing to my own kids AND my students.

  6. Sandi

    I spoke out through an interview in the Sanford Herald this week. ( http://www.sanfordherald.com/news/x1576248523/Teachers-decry-raises-for-state-level-officials ) Of course, there was one idiot quick to slam me who clearly didn’t even comprehend what he read.

    At the 20 year mark of my career, I’m in for the long haul and I’m good at what I do. I doubt I’d be a lead teacher for several things at my school if I wasn’t. I’m done with being disrespected and demeaned because of my profession and because I will advocate for my profession.

    Agree with the above poster…be a Badass Teacher! (Check them out on Facebook.)

  7. Kim

    I was one of the pissed teachers. I resigned 2 years ago. Since then, my life has never been better!

    • willard cottrell

      As a longtime teacher (now retired) I can not in good conscience recommend to a young person the teaching profession. Far too many politicians, parents and some administrators make us the fall guy for a system that believes children are a ‘raw’ material that can be molded – like a piece of molten metal, dropped in a die – and viola a new product to be distributed in the free market.

  8. Emily P.

    I am not a teacher, but I wrote the Charlotte Observer an editorial letter about how things are changing in my sons’ schools. The letter was published, and the editor wrote me to tell me that one retired couple even sent a gift certificate to a school based on my letter. I hope they think about schools when voting too.
    I also went to meetings for my political representative and several county commissioner meetings. I am impressed with how many parents, like me, are getting involved in supporting education for the first time. Many of us didn’t understand the incredibly low funding for NC students and teachers.
    I plan on bringing funding up at the 1st PTO meetings. New parents need to know what is happening in NC. My sense is that almost all voters want NC children to be successful, but many people have no clue what is happening in NC education.
    My hope is that principals, superintendents and teachers take advantage of back-to-school curriculum events, letting parents know why supply/wish lists are so long, classes are getting bigger, and why there are fewer assistants and higher teacher turnover. I used to think that my schools used funds poorly, but I didn’t understand that they lacked funds!

    • Dawn Moretz


      I would like to thank you for providing a model of parent advocacy that others may replicate! I agree that one of the biggest voting blocks is the least informed–that of our parent constituents.

      We in public education are partly to blame in that we have held the mantra that no matter how bad things become, we wouldn’t let it affect the classroom…That was the plan 5 years ago when we began cutting “the fat.” But soon we discovered that it wasn’t perceived to be enough of a sacrifice…So, next came “the meat”, followed by “the bone”…all the while, educators on the ground continued to smile bravely, putting up a courageous front while dipping into our own pockets, and “doing more with less.” When push finally came to the final shove this past legislative session, we found ourselves in search of “the marrow.”

      And so now, “the rank and file educators”, many of whom prided themselves on not being political, have finally gotten into the mix and have gone public in a huge way! I am both a hardworking teacher AND a member of NCAE and it is because of my professional membership that I have been aware of what has been going on since the initial dismantling of public education in North Carolina. I have been writing letters, visiting legislators, and joining in marches, rallies, and protests for more than four years .I can only say how glad I am that the rest of my professional colleagues are finally willing to stretch their necks out to take a stand…it has been mighty tiring pulling the public education wagon with NCAE members alone!

  9. Eilene C.

    The GOP is getting exactly what it wants. If enough of us veteran, well-educated professionals give up and leave the state, they can create a network of private, charter, and virtual on-line schools. No more brick and mortar upkeep, no more class size limits, no more pricy salaries. They can stick a first or second year teacher with classes of 100, 150, 200… whatever. And we will reap the benefits of this lack of education soon enough.

  10. willard cottrell

    AS a retired public school/college teacher, I am sick of the disrespect we – ALL OF US – get by the mental midgets in our current and past few legislative sessions. They been dominated by Republicans and we (teachers, students and parents) are now reaping the stupidity of those elected.

  11. Thomas Mills

    Thanks for all of the comments. I’m glad to hear from teachers. I think another thing the GOP wants is to push funding down to counties and municipalities. It violates the state constitution but they’ve been saying to blame the counties not the legislature.

    • Stacey Sprenz

      I agree with your assertion. Besides the fact that it violates the constitution, it is not a viable plan. I live in a large county but have lived in smaller counties. It isn’t feasible or sustainable for any of them to bear the burden of funding. Schools are already dealing with teachers having to buy their own paper and printer ink, no money for basic repairs, used up workbooks with no way to make copies or get new ones…the list goes on. Let’s stop putting iPads and SmartBoards in every classroom and take care of basics until we can float again.

  12. Sandra Watson

    I’m a retired principal, and I’m with you!!

  13. Teaching4life

    I’m one of the pissed teachers, too. This is about the movement to privatize public schools, claiming (as the media does) that “schools are failing and all teachers are bad.” NC is jumping on the voucher/cyber charter school bandwagon while simultaneously tying teachers’ evaluations to student test scores through a faulty system created by Bill Gates’ Microsoft Corporation. VAM is a sham, and we teachers continue to educate and uphold the ideals of our democracy, even as it is turning in to a plutocracy. It’s not even about Democrats or Republicans. This is happening NATIONWIDE. Wake up!

    For those teachers who care to be heard and who refuse to be blamed for societal ills just so a system can be subverted and taken over to profit the wealthy, please join The Badass Teachers Association found on Facebook!

  14. Stacey Sprenz

    I am one of those pissed teachers. I worked hard to get my license and will complete my Master’s degree after the deadline. This is a second career for me. The NCGA pulled the rug out from under those of us who are just starting this journey and disrespected the entire profession. It is shameful.

  15. Carl Johnson

    I’ve benefited from teachers more than I have politicians. I believe that people voted for the GOP because they thought they were being sold on a set of policies that were different that those that have targeted teachers and public education. The mean spirited legislation appears as seeking to punish teachers for not being part of the GOP. Yet, many teachers do vote for the GOP…or at least they did until the latest war on teachers.

    • willard cottrell

      WHY? What has any republican in the last 30 yrs done for the teaching profession?

    • John D

      I’m a pissed teacher who generally votes GOP. But I won’t be doing so next time. The Democrats did poorly on education, and the Republicans have done worse. My vote is to go back to doing poorly. I agree with you that the legislation was designed to punish. The GOP sees teachers as largely leftist- with some accuracy- and perceives teachers as their enemies. That they would do something like that should come as a surprise to nobody. But there is another reason- do some research on who gets to open up new charter schools and those who want vouchers. Phil Berger, the president pro temp of the NC Senate, has a son who is connected to a new charter school, for example: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/08/3092302/nc-may-approve-up-to-28-new-charter.html
      In other words, some of these people are going to use the power to make laws to send taxpayer money into their own pockets, or that of their friends, family, or flunkies. It is called corruption, regardless of your ideology.

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