What Teachers Must Decide by May

According to the “Excellent Public Schools Act” passed this summer in the NC state legislature, the following things must happen by June 30, 2014:

  • Each school principal must select 25% of his or her  faculty (classroom teachers and all those holding licensure who are evaluated using NCEES)
  • Those 25% will be offered a four year contract to sign.
  • If they sign that contract, they will be promised a $500 bonus for each year they teach under that contract. They accumulate each year, to total $5000 over the four years.
  • When they sign that contract, they will surrender, voluntarily, their career status / tenure.

All NC public school teachers need to decide if they want to be in that 25%, and if they will sign the contract.

It should also be noted:

  • All teachers will lose their tenure in 2018, according to current law.
  • The bonus money has not yet been funded in the state budget, and it is estimated bonuses will cost $12 million the first year, $20 million the second, $30 million the third, and $40 million the fourth (see this article)
  • The next elections for the state legislature are November 2014. There could be changes in the law if the composition of the state legislature changes significantly.
  • If tenure is reinstated by a later legislature, we don’t know what they will do about teachers who voluntarily surrendered their tenure by signing four year contracts.
  • NCAE is filing an injunction (seeking a court order to stop the enactment of this law) in the coming weeks.

FAQs:

Q: What if the 25% of teachers selected do not choose to sign the contracts?
A: Let’s say 100% of the 25% declined to sign. Then, the principal could choose the next 25% to offer the contracts to (the 26%-51%). He can award up to 25% of the faculty, but not more than 25%.

Q: How will the principals choose the 25%?
A: Right now, they have not been provided clear criteria. Since teachers who do not have an evaluation on file cannot be awarded, we can assume the teacher evaluation instrument might be one factor. Those who know how diverse and varied the roles of teachers are know that at some level, these decisions will be somewhat subjective.

Q:  How does $500 a year equal $5000 over four years?A:  It accumulates:  $500 year one +$1000 year two + $1500 year three + $2000 year four = $5000.

Q: What if the teachers sign the contracts and the state doesn’t come through with the bonus money?
A: It is unclear if then the local districts would be obligated to come up with the money, or if the state could be sued for breech of contract.

Q: NCAE is filing suit over the taking away of tenure. Would those who sign contracts be in a position to benefit from any future rulings on the matter if they sign away tenure voluntarily?
A: No, since they signed away their tenure rights voluntarily, they would not have standing to benefit from the lawsuit.

Q: Is NCAE likely to win the lawsuit?
A: Case law is not clear on this matter. Teachers in NC do not sign individual contracts and their tenure was granted to them by the passage of law. Some legal precedents indicate it can therefore be removed by law. Other rulings disagree.

Q: Why are they trying to get the “best” teachers to surrender their tenure early?
A: We can only speculate. One theory is that the teachers with the best record of service who are losing tenure in 2018 would be in the best position to sue. If they surrender their career status voluntarily, they cannot be a party to such a suit.

Q: What is the source of this information?
A: Red4EdNC has read the statute, referenced articles linked above, and communicated directly with staff members of the General Assembly who are very familiar with the legislation.