Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Teacher tenure plan getting public boos

After Tuesday's meeting where school board members approved a resolution decrying N.C. lawmakers' vote to end teacher tenure and give 25 percent of the state's teachers paltry raises, the board chair said: "We can do better. I would rather see a more equitable base pay." 

That wasn't the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system's chair. It was Cumberland County's in Fayetteville. Both the Cumberland County board and the CMS board on Tuesday joined a growing list of education boards across the state in publicly lambasted the change which they say inadequately compensates teachers and creates pay inequities.

State Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat and former Cumberland County school board member who was at the Fayetteville meeting noted to the Fayetteville Observer aptly: "My suspicion is this will cascade. The public is speaking pretty clearly on this."

That's been pretty clear. Teachers came out in droves to voice opposition in Charlotte and in Fayetteville on Tuesday. Surveys by two UNC Wilmington professors detailed the public's thumbs-down. Gov. Pat McCrory seems to be listening. He said last week that his staff is considering offering changes to the tenure legislation in the coming short legislative session. “I think it’s an example of passing a policy without clearly understanding the execution,” he said.

It's also an example of passing policy that has little impact on the problem legislators said that were trying to solve - ensuring that North Carolina has the most effective teachers and got rid of the poorly performing ones. Declining to give teachers a pay raise, keeping N.C. teachers' salaries in the cellar of teacher compensation nationwide and arbitrarily deciding that only 25 percent of the state's teachers will be top performers and be eligible for $500 a year pay bumps  as a reward won't address either issue. 

Interestingly, a comparison of states nationwide and the performance of their students show little relationship between teacher tenure policies and teaching effectiveness as shown in test scores. Of the top states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), several also have the most lenient teacher tenure (teachers able to get tenure in a short period of time). Massachusetts tops the list on NAEP performance (2010) yet it was one of 32 states (in 2010) where teachers got tenure in three years. In North Carolina, which was 29th in NAEP performance among the 50 states, the District of Columbia and overseas military schools, it was four years. In Maine, which was 14th on NAEP, tenure took just two years to kick in. Vermont is second in NAEP performance, and teacher tenure kicks in after two years.

Mississippi, dead last on NAEP, gave teacher tenure after one year on the job - the only state to do so. But the perennial bottom-sitter on education performance was in the minority with that correlation.

Gov. McCrory might be taking a cue from some political history in taking a second look at the teacher tenure change which he signed into law with the state budget last year. In 2000, Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, a Democrat, successfully pushed a law through the legislature eliminating tenure for new teachers. When Barnes was up for reelection in 2002, teachers refused to support him, helping Sonny Perdue to become the first Republican Governor of Georgia since 1872.

No one believes mediocre teachers should be kept in the classroom. But the change N.C. lawmakers made doesn't really address that problem. It simply hurts good teachers, fails to compensate them for the good work they do and doesn't help them help students improve their academic performance. 

Lawmakers should repeal this bad law.

- Associate Editor Fannie Flono


tarhoosier said...

I spent 32 years with NC public education and I never saw tenure as job security. I was quite aware that reductions in force (RIF) could come with an economic recession.
The true value of tenure is in freedom of speech and actions. Without tenure any act or speech can be taken as grounds for punishment, demotion, or dismissal. When the superior officer knows that dismissal must be documented by negligence, theft or malfeasance then revenge and bullying is tempered.

Aubrey Moore said...

Let us get straight to the effects of whatever the legislature did. They told the good teachers of this state to drop dead, get out of the profession, or become prostitutes for them. The ignorance of this group of legislators knows no limits. They were so far out of their pretend field of knowledge that there literally was no path to good decisions for them.

Of course the county school boards are fighting back. They are put out on a limb for it is they who much employ the best qualified teachers possible, and they have seen that pool of teachers shrink significantly over the last several months.

Add to the law specifics that they passed the arrogant attitude of those legislators, and you start to realize, "I would not work with my job dependent on those idiots if I did not have to." And who does not have to? The more highly motivated and more academically gifted teachers.

So, North Carolina legislators, you have found your equal in the teacher profession, people who are there to fill seats will now be king and queen of the profession that you so loved to hate. The good ones will be gone, no longer a threat to your know nothing way of running this state.

Wiley Coyote said...

....all the while public education continues to spiral down the toilet, with teacher tenure, without tenure or higher teacher pay.

All of this is a gnat on the bigger issues facing public education that have gone on for decades that no one wants to talk about.

Pay teachers back, let them teach and educate the kids.

Ghoul said...


Did you have just as much outrage when Bev Perdue froze teachers salaries, then raided the education lottery to balance the budget? You do know she used that money to rebuild her daddy's private pier in New Bern right? Bet you voted for her and her cronies.

Rob M said...

Our culture does not value education, guys. I love America, but we are becoming dumber and dumber. We place more value on entertainment than we do value of a hard days work. Everything should come easy. Maybe I'll win the lottery, become a movie star or professional athlete, or perhaps I'll just get my own tv show acting like a complete moron and get rich that way.

I am an educator, and I see this attitude in my students every day. Of course it is not all of them, but most feel they deserve a grade just for showing up. The attitude of our government leaders has trickled down to our children. Or has our culture influenced our leaders. I'm not sure, but I know it is not good.

The money is going to where our priorities are, and it is not just the government. Instead of spending billions of dollars on sporting events and movies and lottery tickets, donate to your child's school. But we won't do that, will we?