October, 2016

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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!