Teacher Life: Top 10 Categories Why NC Teachers REALLY Need to Vote Early!

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By:  Angie Scioli , et al (meaning many of her teacher friends who joined her on Facebook)

Early voting starts WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20TH, and we can think of no single group of professionals that are better suited for early voting than North Carolina’s 10,0000 + teachers!  Why, you might ask?  Oh, let us count the ways!  I asked my fellow teachers to help me brainstorm a list of the REAL ways their best laid plans have gotten blown up in a single day, and would have been just the thing that would have prevented them from voting on November 8th.

There’s a few different categories.  There’s the

#1: “Don’t Be Fooled That Whatever Flexibility Has Been Put Into Place For Other Professionals Applies to You” Category

Heard there is a two hour delay in your school system to ease traffic and crowding at the pools?  Thinking you’ll have time in the a.m.?  Oh no, that probably doesn’t apply to teachers!  For example, Wake County is expecting all teachers to be in at the usual time.   Other counties have a teacher workday and have planned professional development sessions all day.

And, then there’s the

#2: “Ninja Tricks All Teachers Need to Think About”

If you vote early you can get the copy machine all to yourself when everyone else is standing in the other line!

And the ever popular

#3:  “You Didn’t Actually Think You Were Getting Out on Time??” Reality

A last minute IEP meeting is called and YOU are the only core subject teacher…and guess what…it’s time to review and change it!

Monday’s after school faculty meeting ran into Tuesday.

Surprise! Someone from downtown wants to talk to you about additional insurance you can’t afford anyway….for an hour and a half

A new kid that has a limited English vocabulary doesn’t know how he is supposed to get home and no one is answering the number in PowerSchool and school has been out for an hour and a half

An angry parent storms in because their child has a low grade, and they want to know why YOU didn’t remind them to do/take out/turn in their homework every night for the past 8 weeks.

That one kid that turns in everything late for a “70” brings in all his assignments the day before grades are due.  And he wants to know his new grade.  Like, NOW, because his phone is about to be taken away.

A student tells you they are suicidal at 2:15 and you can’t locate a parent for the next several hours.

That parent that you’ve been trying to get to come in for a conference finally comes in… unannounced

Or the

#4: “You Aren’t a Teacher, You Just Wouldn’t Understand” Issue:

It’s book character day you go to the polls dressed as Ms. Frizzle because you forgot your “normal” clothes and get mistaken for an escaped mental patient.

And the

#5: “Standard Occupational Hazard” Calculus:

Also it’s flu season so there is a 90% chance I’ll get vomited on by a tiny human.

 #6:  The “DOH! I Never Have Time to Do My ACTUAL Job” Reality

You get so caught up reflecting on your amazing lessons that day that you completely lose track of time……….OR………”oh (insert word of choice), I don’t have lesson plans done for tomorrow”

PowerSchool has been down for maintenance and grades are due tomorrow.

There are not enough bus drivers (they are all voting) and you get pulled to drive a “quick” route. 3 hours and most of the county later….

Not be outdone by the

#7: The “If You Stick Around Long Enough You See it All” Dynamic:

Your classroom was broken into and you have to spend your “after the bell” time cleaning and reorganizing!

You are in a hurry to leave school, but unfortunately slip, fall, and split your knee open. You then have to drive yourself to the Emergency Room for stiches!

An early ice storm hits and you have to stay in school to make pb&j sandwiches for the kids that couldn’t get picked up.

During your parking lot duty a teenage driver backs into another car. You are stuck comforting them and trying to convince them their parents aren’t going to “kill them”, trying to find the other car’s driver, AND a principal and SRO.

It’s field trip day to Old Salem and your bus is the one broken down on I – 40. But it’s ok – they can “get another one to you by 6:00 pm. Hang tight!”

Or the

#8: “I Don’t Have the Bandwidth to Run My Life and Teaching Life Simultaneously” Reality

Your super-duper teacher’s car breaks down on the way to the polls and you had to let your AAA membership expire when your parents didn’t renew it for you.  Because who can afford AAA?

One of your 1st period students is certain the set of car keys he or she has lost is in your room, and you help search, no luck. BUT, they’ve also managed to misplace their phone and don’t know any phone numbers. So… you help track down a ride and wait with them until the ride arrives after work. Then you can’t remember where you have put your own keys.

Not to be confused with the

#9: “I Have Multiple Jobs and I’m Always Working One of Them” Problem

It’s the start of basketball season and somehow you forgot it’s your gate duty night until you get that email reminder to pick up your box!

And finally, the

#10: “Details Matter” category:

You show up at the polls on November 28th and are surrounded by Trump supporters wondering where everyone is…

See, teachers??  It’s crazy out there!  Do yourself, and all of NC a favor!  We need to hear your voice loud and clear this November; take control of this situation and VOTE.  And, VOTE EARLY! 

NC Teachers: Pick Power Over Pity

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By Kelly Bradshaw, Johnston County Teacher

I was at dinner the other night with some of my school colleagues and we were having a lively conversation about all of the things that had happened at our school the previous week: cool projects our clubs were taking on, interesting comments made during meetings, the recent curriculum changes that were affecting the way we approached various subjects.  We talked about faculty concerns, asked advice for certain students that were being difficult, and conversed about the governor (a favorite pass time of all educators in North Carolina). We were having a great time. And then it happened… A stranger, who had obviously overheard us talking, joined our conversation. “You guys must be teachers,” he said. “I am so sorry.”

“I am so sorry.” That is the phrase most used when discussing the teaching profession with the public. It is said on Parent Night, at random encounters in restaurants, and basically any time anyone dares to utter the phrase, “ I am a teacher.”

Teacher, the word that used to garner respect and positive recognition, has now somehow become synonymous with a person to be pitied. This is not to say that the public at large does not appreciate us; I would be lying if I didn’t say that the phrase that most often follows the above one is, “I appreciate what you guys do.” However, the problem lies in the fact that by saying “I am so sorry,” the public is openly admitting that the state of the education profession in North Carolina is at an all-time low, despite the statements and campaign ads put forth by Governor McCrory.

All the bad campaign ads in the world can’t hide the facts from the public. The News and Observer recently printed an article that put forth the truth about teaching in North Carolina. Referencing a study done by the National Education Association, the article painted a clear picture of what it means to be a teacher in our state and it becomes starkly clear why we hear apologies so much. According to the NEA, North Carolina is ranked 41st in teacher pay with our teachers making around $10,000 less than the national average. The NEA also found that North Carolina was 48th in percent change in teacher salary between the 2004/05 school year and the 2014/15 school year with our salary actually decreasing 10.2% when cost of living was considered. Additionally, insult was added to injury when Master’s pay was taken away, giving us limited ways to increase our salary and leaving us at the mercy of an uncaring governor and unreasonable legislature. With all this in mind, it is no wonder that educators are pitied. We are doing more for less. We are working two jobs to compensate for the cost of living increase that our legislature has ignored. We are waiting for the $50,000 a year that Pat has touted in his speeches.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am tired of waiting. I am tired of working two or more jobs so that I can continue in a job I love. I am tired of empty promises for higher salaries. I am tired of the lack of respect, lack of funding, and lack of opportunity. The time for change has come and it is time that we advocate as passionately for ourselves as we advocate for students. If we want better pay, more respect, and better opportunities, we have to take an active role in making these things happen. We, to paraphrase Mohatma Gandhi, need to be the change that we want to see.

But, how do we make change happen? How can we passionately advocate for ourselves in a time when it feels like we are punished for speaking out or peacefully congregating to make our voices heard? How can we positively affect our profession?

The answer is simple: vote.

You see, there are many ways that those in power try to keep us from being heard. They arrest us at Moral Monday protests. They threaten to take away our teaching license if we peacefully walk from Durham to downtown Raleigh. They put out false campaign ads. They take away Master’s pay and tenure.

They cannot, however, keep us away from the polls. They cannot keep us from voting for people in local, state, and federal elections that will be good for education. They cannot control the box that we check on our ballot. They cannot control our right as a citizen to elect those who serve the greater good for us. Sharon Salzberg, a meditation teacher and New York Times best-selling author, once said, “Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world.” She is inarguably right. Voting shows that we are committed to a better education system for ourselves and our students. Voting shows that we want our voices heard. Voting shows that we will not be weakened by radicalism. Voting shows that we are not to be pitied, but rather to be taken seriously.

We are at a crossroads for the education profession in North Carolina. We, as educators, can either sit idly by or we can act. Now is the time to act. This election is our forum and our ballots are our microphones. We can change the direction of education in our state. We can make our voices matter. Most importantly, however, we can make our votes count.

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Want to support stronger public schools but those “downballot” races are confusing? Let the teachers at Red4EdNC help! We know that the following races are the KEY to restoring per pupil funding to 2008 levels: Governor, State Superintendent, State Senate, State House, County Commissioners, School Board, and State Supreme Court.

Fill out this quick google form and just tell us your name and county. We will find YOUR ballot, make our recommendations for just those races, and TEXT it back to you before November 8th!

Promise and Potential, Meet Reality

By Allisen Fischer, Wake County Public School Teacher

It’s fall and it feels like another successful school year is under way. The kids are decked out in their new outfits with new haircuts, and their book bags are overflowing with new supplies. Did you feel the excitement in the air that last week of August? The students and teachers began the year filled with fresh optimism.

And then we teachers saw our class rosters, and the reality of the funding finagling started to hit home. When I was arranging my desks into groups of three for collaborative learning, I was really proud of my creative use of space and got really excited about a table I set up as an alternative work space. But then I totaled up my roster numbers. Whereas I am thrilled that shifting of funds has allowed for class sizes for my elementary-aged birth children to remain reasonable, I am less than thrilled by the fact that I have 195 high school students this year. I wish I never totaled up that number because I started to feel deflated before the kids even walked in the door. I respect the fact that my principal encourages us to form meaningful relationships with every single one of our students, however, I am not exactly sure how I am going to do that. I am going to try my best, but… I actually, you know, have to teach, too. There are multiple high school classrooms around Wake County alone that have 40 or more students in the class!

At my school, we are starting this year with three-fifths of our department new to our school. This means that veteran teachers such as myself are in the position of helping multiple teachers on multiple Professional Learning Teams. Finding time to meet with all of these teachers takes away from my time to make meaningful connections with my 195 students!

So, why do we teachers need to meet so much? Well, in the fun world of math in North Carolina, we find ourselves in the middle of a unique battle of “Which Curriculum Is Best?” We were teaching Algebra I, II, and Geometry, and then 4 years ago, the State haphazardly implemented the Common Core Standards, threw together a curriculum, and called the courses Common Core Math I, II, and III.

Our three-year marriage to Common Core expired, so last year, a team was assembled to re-write the math curriculum once again. So we attended some very rushed meetings this past spring getting introduced to the curriculum we would be teaching this fall (pending the approval of said NC Math Curriculum in June 2016). Teachers were also prepping for (another) summer training sessions so we could effectively teach another new curriculum. NC Math would basically shift some things around to “fix” some of the haphazardness of the previous curriculum and would also clarify the standards (which had been a huge problem previously). In prepping for NC Math, teachers were actually asked for their input via surveys!

And then, that last week of school (June 2016), the news came out that there was a bill, sponsored by Senator Jerry Tillman, stating that schools should offer BOTH NC Math as well as the “old” Algebra I, II, and Geometry pathway. We wanted to throw our hands up in the air that minute.

Do you see why, perhaps, we had to replace three-fifths of our department?? How in the world are we supposed to teach TWO DIFFERENT CURRICULUMS? (Someone, like myself, who has been around for several curriculum changes could likely handle teaching all these different courses because I HAVE taught all these different courses in the past, but come on). How can we support the needs of giving the students the option of 6 different math courses versus 3? And that doesn’t even account for honors versus academic or semester long versus all year long.

Consider the basic logistics. When I first started teaching at my school 18 years ago, we had 20 teachers in my department and the school had 1600 students. We now have 15 teachers and 2100 students. You don’t need to be a math genius to know that this just doesn’t add up. We can’t hardly teach the courses we have now.

That is why this election is so important. You and I simply cannot sit idly by and assume that the vote will go the way we want without our active participation. Please educate yourself, and others, and vote for candidates that will make education a priority. Our kids deserve better from us. Their schools shouldn’t be a revolving door of teachers, or curriculums, nor should their classrooms be as overflowing as their bookbags.

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Want to support stronger public schools but those “downballot” races are confusing? Let the teachers at Red4EdNC help! We know that the following races are the KEY to restoring per pupil funding to 2008 levels: Governor, State Superintendent, State Senate, State House, County Commissioners and School Board races.

Fill out this quick google form and just tell us your name and county. We will find YOUR ballot, make our recommendations for just those races, and TEXT it back to you before November 8th!

Why the Middle and Bottom of Your Ballot Matters Most

By Laura Lineberger, Wake County Public School Teacher

Let me start by stating that I’m a social studies teacher.  As a group, we tend to be cheerleaders of civic engagement. We hold voter registration drives, we have “current events sharing time” during class, we draw connections between historical and current issues, and we play whatever “Rock the Vote” music video is all the rage during the current election season.

Regardless of the awareness level or interest of my students about global current events, I can say that every one of them has an opinion about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. One thing I have the hardest time trying to explain, though, is the importance of local and state races. I rarely have more than a handful of students in a class who can even name our governor, let alone a single member of our General Assembly, city council, or school board. I tell them that state/local races affect their lives on a daily basis far more than the POTUS does. How?? *crickets*

How about that science class that still doesn’t have a teacher because they can’t find someone to fill the position? So you’re on your 4th sub in four days and trying to learn chemistry from 15-year-old textbooks and doing worksheets. What about that art class that you loved but that got eliminated? Or your Civics class with 42 kids crammed into a classroom that’s already barely bigger than a closet and literally cannot hold enough desks, so you end up sitting on the floor with your notebook as your “desk.” Or that AP teacher who hasn’t graded your essay yet because he has 3 preps and 215 students on his class lists. These are realities because of the decisions being made by our state/local politicians.

Now to my fellow adults. Most of us have been following the recent Presidential election (whether we choose to or because it inundates every aspect of our lives from the news cycles, to friends’ social media posts, to late-night comedy shows). But how many of us are just as closely following the races for our state and local governments? You should be! Whether you are a teacher or a parent or merely a conscientious citizen, you should be aware of what is happening to public education in this state.

Low Salaries

“But the average teacher is making over $50,000!” NO, we are not. Most aren’t even close, and those that are close are likely 25-year veterans or only making that because of county supplements, not from policies of our state government.

“But this year was the biggest pay raise percent in history!” Only because they froze pay for years, and last year was just a tiny “bonus” (they made a big deal about it in the media, then taxed it higher and since it wasn’t salary, any increase this year looks even bigger).

“But your pay was frozen under Purdue and the Dems…stop blaming Republicans!” True. Perdue put the freeze in place due to the crisis of the Great Recession hitting our state. Most of us teachers understood and believed it to be temporary. Now, the salary schedule has been dismantled for a new 5-year increment pay scale, AND thanks to inflation, I am making approximately 13% LESS money than I did when I started teaching in 2003.

Also, the average increase is largely a result of first and second year pay increases. Since they make less, the percentage increase is higher with less money actually used. Their salaries increased by double-digit percentages, while veterans saw little or no pay increase. But the “average” still looks good. It’s all smoke and mirrors, y’all!

Longevity Pay

Gone. This was an added bonus that teachers received if they remained in the field for 10 years. Keep in mind that studies show that 10% of teachers don’t come back after even one year, and as high as 50% do not make it 5 years. By the way, the loss of longevity pay gave them money to work with to give raises. So they were actually robbing Peter to pay Peter.

College Teacher Prep Programs

Not only has the General Assembly made cuts to our renowned UNC system overall, but they have also cut vital teacher prep programs. The Teaching Fellows was one of the most popular teacher prep programs in the state and became a model across the nation. Teachers could get a full 4-year scholarship if they committed to working in NC public schools for 4 years. It was actually a great investment by our state that cost very little money given the benefit. It was also a program that effectively prepared teachers for the classroom and provided support both during college and beyond. That is gone.

Other teacher prep programs have also been reduced, mostly due to decreased enrollment. It doesn’t help that our state also cut additional pay for post-graduate degrees, so what’s the incentive to become highly certified and earn a Masters? Just to show how much this reduction is happening, I spoke with someone yesterday about our mutual experiences in the MAT program at UNC (a master’s program to train high school teachers). When I went through the program in 2002-03, there were approximately 70-80 people from all subject areas…17 just in social studies. The woman I talked to just finished the program this year, and there were 6 people…total. All subjects. SIX.

Teacher Shortages

When veteran teachers begin retiring en masse (which is what the General Assembly wants because they cost more, hence veterans taking the brunt of these policy changes), there will be no trained teachers to fill those positions. Remember that science class with no teacher? That’s a true story at my school. We are already beginning to see the effects of these cuts and the overall assault on teachers and our public education system. If we don’t change things SOON, we will be facing a massive teacher shortage in our state.

Which brings me back to voting. You NEED to care about our state elections, and you NEED to vote! Whether or not you are a teacher and whether or not you have kids in the system, public education is vital to maintaining our cherished democracy. Our entire state benefits from a well-educated population, and this cannot happen while teachers and public schools are under attack. Everyone is following Trump vs. Clinton. But perhaps even more important will be McCrory vs. Cooper, Barefoot vs. Johnson, and Dollar vs. Ferrell. If you don’t know these names, please look them up (or the names of those running in your district). Please educate yourself on the candidates. It’s not just our own livelihoods at stake, it’s the future of education in this great state…we owe it to ourselves and to our children to take these races seriously and get out there and vote! (Insert Rock the Vote video here J)

Red4EdNC’s Teacher Voting Recommendations Request

Complete this quick form to receive FREE Teacher Voting Recommendations!

Want to support stronger public schools but those “downballot” races are confusing? Let the teachers at Red4EdNC help! We know that the following races are the KEY to restoring per pupil funding to 2008 levels: Governor, State Superintendent, State Senate, State House, County Commissioners and School Board races.

Fill out this quick google form and just tell us your name and county. We will find YOUR ballot, make our recommendations for just those races, and TEXT it back to you before November 8th!

NC Teachers: Are We Still Seeing (and Wearing) Red?

By Angela Scioli, Wake County Public School Teacher

You know how your Facebook feed hits you with a photo you posted from years past, causing you to reflect on how long ago something actually was?  Sometimes that helps you take stock of how far you have come from that day.  Or not.

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This picture came up:  It is from the summer of 2013, when my teacher friends and I realized that state policies regarding education had gotten all out of whack, and we needed to take action to bring change.  So I wrote this letter stating we should Wear Red 4 Ed on Wed(nesday) as a visual symbolic protest. And Red4EdNC was launched.  Since then we have started a website, written articles that circulated statewide, sold 500 t-shirts, attended protests, produced an occasional podcast, lobbied our elected leaders, and joined networks that collect data to write reports to shape policy.  I even had a documentary crew follow me around for a year, and that film is about to come out (titled Teacher of the Year).

As the movie will show, all this advocacy has taken quite a toll on us and our families, and unlike most organizations, we’d really like to quit, close up shop, and just go back to teaching.  Based on current campaign commercials, you might assume we can do just that and all is well with education in NC.  Maybe we could burn our accumulated red wardrobes in a celebratory pyre!

Not so fast.

This movement has never been about teacher pay raises, and even if it were, only 3 out of 10 NC teachers have truly received an increase in salary since 2013.  We did not become teachers for the pay.  We might get out of teaching because of inadequate pay, but pay is not what really makes us tick.

We became teachers for the students.  We want them to learn and grow.  Students are still suffering, however, because of the misguided priorities that have shaped education policy since 2013:

  • About 3,000 teacher positions and 9,000 teacher assistant positions in NC have vanished since 2011.
  • North Carolina jumped to 46th in the country in per-pupil spending from 47th in the country in 2013-14 per-pupil spending.
  • North Carolina spends 14.5% less per student than it did before the recession. That’s a bigger drop than all but six other states. (FY08 to FY15, inflation-adjusted).
  • North Carolina spends $855 less per student than it did before the recession. That’s a bigger drop than all but five other states (FY08 to FY15, inflation-adjusted).
  • In 2007-08, the state allocated just over $83 million for classroom materials, instructional supplies and equipment, according to numbers from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. During the last school year, the state allocated around $44.3 million . . . AND the state has eliminated the school supply tax holiday weekend.

This whole situation is like that last class of the day that often drives you crazy.  They test your patience, cause you to feel hopeless, and sometimes, make you want to just give up.  But no, the stakes are just too high.  These are not chess pieces on a board or widgets hitting the factory floor.  These are human souls with a story and vast potential.  And we cannot walk away from this larger fight any more than we can walk away from one our students.

So we must keep wearing Red on Wed., and we must keep writing, and speaking, and posting, AND VOTING – doing what we can, when we can, as much as we can.

Our students deserve more.  And until they get more, if the flag drops, one of us will pick it up, and all of us will keep moving.  I look forward to the day we can rest.  That day is just not yet, but it is coming.

How will you know?  When you see or smell a plume of red polyester rising up over Raleigh.  A celebratory funeral pyre of red.  I can’t wait!

Put Down the Gradebook and Vote

by Heather Dinkenor, Wake County Public School Teacher

Let me say as a precursor, I am not trying to vote shame anyone, but looking at public election records, (https://enr.ncsbe.gov/voter_search_public/) educators do not consistently cast a vote. We are agents of change, beacons of hope, role models for youth. As metaphors for many positive aspects of the future, why, why? are we educators not consistent voters, directly affecting the future?

In so many aspects of our lives as teachers, we put ourselves last: We go to school sick rather than stay at home. We use our own money to purchase classroom supplies. We give up parts of our summers for extra training. We sometimes put our own children in line behind our school children (more of them, we often think). Many educators I know (myself included) even planned pregnancy due dates around school calendars.

So on Election Day, I can hear us: Rather than going to the polls, we say, I need to grade this stack of papers. I need to attend this parent conference. I need to set up my classroom for tomorrow’s lab. I need to work out the kinks in this lesson. I need to copy these worksheets. These tasks do need to occur, but not at the expense of voting on November 8.

No doubt, if you are a veteran teacher, the current political ads on NC television exasperate you. $50,000? Where? Who? When? And if you are a new teacher, you probably do not realize the bold lie being told because you look at that number as realistic. After all, you go to college, work hard, save with the belief raises will come; so you assume $50,000 will happen.

If not part of the education sector, you might look at that $50,000 touted by some current NC legislators and think, $50,000? I made that at my first job out of school. Again, sadly, that is what NC teachers aspire to, but may not reach. The ads further fail to explain how some local school systems have kicked in a supplement, putting the burden upon local taxpayers, rather than state government, to get anywhere near that salary amount.

So back to my point: If we as educators choose not to vote, if we choose to do anything else in place of voting, we yet again put ourselves last. But this time, it is not money we sacrifice, nor a week of summer vacation, nor a day to recoup our health; it is our voice we have ransomed off with self-inflicted martyrdom. So call it vote-shaming if you will, but put down the stack of papers, shut the classroom door, and get to the poll. Because if we do not, that $50,000 salary will continue to be a lie that we ourselves helped perpetuate.

Want to Help Fight the Corrupting Influence of Big Money on Politics? Read and Share this post!

By Angela Scioli, Wake County Teacher

Teachers across NC are trying hard not to throw things at their TVs right now.  Politicians with deep pockets are running election ads that tell boldfaced (and subtle) lies.  We teachers know they are misleading the public, but we don’t have the money to buy ads about it.  Heck, it’s August and many of us have been unemployed and without a paycheck for almost three months, and we no longer get that longevity check in June, so we don’t have the money to buy much of anything.  Including supplies for our classrooms.  So, tempers and temperatures are running high.

We’ve been working social media outlets in a scattershot fashion as opportunities arise, but we need a more focused effort, a populist alternative to the TV ad.  So here it is.  We teachers are David, and big money politics is Goliath.  Here’s my rock.  I’m throwing it as hard as I can.  Will you help it gain velocity??

 

#1 They say:

The average teacher in NC earns $50,000+. 

The TRUTH:  North Carolina teachers made an average of $47,985 last school year, about $10,000 less than the average U.S. teacher, who made $58,064.  Average salaries of North Carolina public school teachers dropped 17.4% in real dollars from 2003-04 to 2013-14. Because the new salary schedule created in 2014 by the General Assembly only provides for salary adjustments once every 5 years, and only gave raises to newer teachers, only 32 percent of NC teachers received a raise last year under the budget (meaning 7 out of 10 teachers got no increase at all).

That $50,000+ number is based on a projection that assumes every veteran teacher who taught last year will continue teaching next year.  I assure you that will not happen.  Most of the veteran teachers I know are leaving as soon as possible, as we have not gotten a significant pay raise in years and we lost longevity pay.  It will be interesting to see how we replace all those teachers with the broken teacher pipeline we now have.  When the better paid vets all leave, and new lower paid replacements are hired, average teacher pay will drop, not rise.

 

#2  They say:

North Carolina is 9th in the nation for education spending. 

The TRUTH:

We are one of only a few states that puts the burden of funding public schools on the state government through the state constitution.  The rest fund schools more through local funding, which is why their local property taxes are so high compared to ours.  The above claim should read something like, “We are 9th out of 10 states that rely primarily on state funds to fund education”.  Not quite as impressive, right?

funding ranking 12-13 II

 

 

 

 

 

In case you can’t see, we are 47th in the nation in education funding, with 62% of our funding coming from the state, 25% from local sources and 13% from federal. ‘SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “National Public Education Financial Survey,” 2012-13.

 

#3:  They say:

NC is spending more than they ever have on education.

The TRUTH:  That is only because our student population has grown.  Spending per pupil has gone down 14.5% since 2008.  That’s $855 dollars less per student in real dollars.  That matters.

 

#4:  They say:

We have increased the textbook fund.  

The TRUTH:  Textbook funding was increased in 2014, after it was slashed in 2013.  The current level of funding is still less than half of what the state invested in textbooks in 2010. The textbook fund was $111 million in 2009-10.  It was $52 million last year.  I still don’t have adequate textbooks for my classroom, and my students don’t have computers.  How do I teach?  Lots and lots of copies.  Paid for by local sources.

Also (bonus fact!), North Carolina has 7,000 fewer TAs in 2015 than it did in 2008.

 

If you have gotten this far, thank you!!!  You are a soldier in a political revolution, in a way.  Now, go forth boldly and conquer – share this post!!!  NC teachers are counting on you to help our students.  The truth is out there, and trust me, it matters.

We Are Strong in Numbers; Therefore, VOTE!

By Stu Egan, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Schools Teacher

July 13, 2016

The current General Assembly should be very scared of us public school teachers and our supporters. That’s because what had originally looked like an election year to simply resupply the NCGA with more conservatively minded demagoguery has now morphed into a debate about how our state government should serve citizens and fully fund our public schools. This GOP-controlled General Assembly and its governor have unintentionally but successfully turned the focus of November’s elections to the vitality of communities (HB3), the fair treatment of all our citizens (HB2), and the right to a quality public education (explicitly defined by Section 15, Article 1 of the NC Constitution).

North Carolina has 100 counties, each with a county public school system. According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Dept. of Commerce, the public schools are at least the second-largest employers in nearly 90 of them—and the largest employer, period, in 66. That means teachers represent a base for most communities, the public school system. And we are strong in numbers.

Those running for the General Assembly in November knew that two years ago; they just didn’t seem to care. They knew it when they attempted to buy teachers’ rights to due process for $500 million after their attempt to eliminate it was declared unconstitutional. They knew it when they froze pay scales and then offered “average” raises to cloud the truth. They knew it when they abolished the Teaching Fellows Program. They knew it when they allowed unregulated charter schools to take money earmarked for public schools. They knew it when they created Opportunity Grants. They knew it when they allowed for an Achievement School District to come to our state. They know that we are losing more continuity and stability among our teaching staffs. If this trend continues at the current pace, the turnover rates in schools will be beyond detrimental to the foundation of public education, and continue to be a signal to aspiring teachers to not even enter the profession. And this is in a state that has highly regarded college educational programs.

Considering the amount of counterproductive measures placed on our public schools today, the fact that we teachers still educate our kids to a high degree of effectiveness tells me that North Carolina’s teachers are still passionate and of merit. Teachers do not define themselves through partisan, political definitions; they define themselves by a duty to educate students and as a team of professionals working together, not individual contractors whose service is dictated by a yearly indenture.

And no acronym or initiative (NCLB, EOG, EOC, AYP, PLAN, ABC, AP, PLAN, PSAT, RttT (Race To The Top), Common Core, ASW, AMO, EVAAS, NCCLAS, NCEES, IEP’s, 504’s, PD, PEP, PDP, PLC, PLT, READY, SCOS, SIT, SIP, STEM, Title I, Title III, and Title IX) can take away the most vital component of education: the studentteacher relationship. When that teacher is respected and valued, then that teacher is more likely to stay. But we have to help ourselves and vote. We have to educate others and get them to vote.

If public education matters to you at all, then please understand the damage this General Assembly has done to our public schools and communities. The number of teachers leaving the state or the profession is staggering. It has given rise to a now all too familiar state slogan: “North Carolina – First in Teacher Flight”.

I strongly urge anyone in North Carolina who cares about public schools to vote this November. If you know anyone in North Carolina who is registered to vote, then please encourage them to do so. You are in a state where public education is under assault by the private sector posing as reformers. If our public school system is to recover and thrive, then this trend must stop.

To Smile or Not to Smile, That IS the Question

A group of educators marched from Durham and North Raleigh to the State Capitol on June 14- 15, 2016, asking to meet with governor. Fourteen members of Organize 2020 were arrested on June 15, 2016 after blocking a street when the governor chose not to meet with them. These teachers believe that our students deserve more. Here are their reflections on the 23-mile march, the rally at the legislature and Capitol, and their arrests for civil disobedience.

Alyssa Putt, Durham County Public School Teacher

June 30, 2016

I suspect the word “mugshot” is a litmus test for anyone who has ever had an incarcerated parent. From fourth to tenth grade, the only interaction I had with my biological father was typing his name into a search bar and seeing whether or not he had amassed new charges and an updated mugshot since my last search. To me, he always looked so guilty. After a while, I didn’t want to know anymore.

When the end of college neared and I began applying for teaching positions, I petitioned several data-dragging sites to remove any connection between my name and my father’s, so that potential employers and future students would not draw a parallel between us.

This is a piece of my past that I only discuss when kids trust me enough to tell me their own struggle with an incarcerated parent. I tell them that we are responsible for making our lives the lives we want to lead, for making ourselves the people we want to be, and that we are not required to carry around the painful pieces of our past any longer than to find strength in them.

Thursday morning I woke up — blistered from the march and bruised from the zip-tie cuffs — to endless text messages featuring my own mugshot. Mortification. In the months of planning and in the days of the march, it never occurred to me that I would be starting the summer with my mugshot being broadcast on television screens and shared rampantly on social media sites. I got into my car and cried.

I did not cry from shame or self pity. I did not cry because I had become something I have tried my entire life to avoid. I cried because I chose to be put into handcuffs at 26, while some of my students have already been in handcuffs by 15. I cried because I had seen children come into that jail alone. I cried because I wasn’t sure if those children were still there while I was on my way home. I cried because I know the statistics of the population served by my school, and it is inevitable that some of the children that have sat in my classroom will sit in that jail. I cried because I was being thanked for my arrest while thousands of black and brown kids are criminalized for theirs.

I cried because I wholly recognized that my arrest was privileged.

Because we got help when we asked for help. Renisha McBride did not.

Because we were told we would be under arrest if we did not comply. Tamir Rice wasn’t warned.

Because our seat belts were buckled upon my request. Freddie Gray’s was undone.

Because we were able to hold up Kristin as she ebbed in and out of consciousness. No one was there for Raynette Turner.

Because we knew we would be out before the night was over. Over a million people are still waiting.

This industrialized prison machine is vile, guys. The observed ratio of officers to prisoners was better than the ratio of teachers to students in my school. The food was more nutritious than the lunch my kids are provided daily. The facilities were better than many schools I’ve seen in rural counties. The cost of keeping one person in prison for a single year is already more than three times what we spend on a student per year in this state, but here we are, begging for educational funding in the streets. How has it come to this? Why will we spend more on incarceration than education? Why will it be easier for my kids to get a gun than a diploma?

Before the intake officer took my photo, we joked about smiles being disallowed. I asked her what she would want her kids’ teacher to look like in a mugshot. She laughed, and so did I, as she snapped the picture. I asked because I was terrified my students and their parents may see me looking solemn and think I was ashamed, or see me with a smile and think I was selfcongratulatory. I am not ashamed, but I am not congratulating myself, either, despite what my mugshot may suggest. I’m just hoping no kids are disappointed by my guilt.

This isn’t about 14 unflattering photos. This is about the fight for our kids, and how #studentsdeservemore. If you’re proud of the dozens of people who put time and effort into this thing, if you’re proud of Amy, Jessica, Kristin, Bryan, Carrol, Turquoise, Anca, Dawn, Alexa, Leah, Lisa, Donald, James, and me who went to jail for our kids, let’s work to turn this thing around. Get involved with ORGANIZE 2020, vote, attend School Board Meetings … do anything to make sure our kids get what they deserve.