Check out Sen. David Curtis’ harsh email to frustrated NC teacher

WUNC’s Dave DeWitt posted last night a reply sent by Sen. David Curtis (R-Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln) to teacher Sarah Wiles, who emailed the General Assembly about her frustrations with the state of the teaching profession and the unwillingness on the part of lawmakers to pay teachers a decent salary.

Sen. Curtis wasn’t having what she had to tell him.

From: Sen. David Curtis

Date: May 12, 2014 at 9:46:57

Dear Sarah,

I have given your e-mail titled “I am embarrassed to confess: I am a teacher” some thought, and these are my ideas.  A teacher has an incredible influence on students–for good or for bad. My teachers, coaches, and Boy Scout leaders had a great influence on my decision to go to college which was not a family tradition. My concern is that your students are picking up on your attitude toward the teaching profession. Since you naturally do not want to remain in a profession of which you are ashamed, here are my suggestions for what you should tell your potential new private sector employer:

1.    You expect to make a lot more than you made as a teacher because everyone knows how poorly compensated teachers are.

2.    You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher

3.    You expect a defined contribution retirement plan that will guarantee you about $35,000 per year for life after working 30 years even if you live to be 104 years old. Your employer will need to put about $16,000 per year into your retirement plan each year combined with your $2,000 contribution for the next 30 years to achieve this benefit.  If he objects, explain to him that a judge has ruled that the taxpayers of North Carolina must provide this benefit to every public school teacher. Surely your new employer wants to give better benefits than the benefits you received as a poorly compensated teacher.

4.    Your potential employer may tell you that he has heard that most North Carolina workers make less than the national average because we are a low cost-of-living- state, private sector workers making 87% of the national average and teachers making 85% of the national average.  Tell him that may be true, but to keep that confidential because the teachers union has convinced parents that teachers are grossly undercompensated based on a flawed teachers union survey of teacher pay.

I support the teacher pay raise but am very concerned that the teachers union has successfully presented to the public a deceptive view of total teacher compensation that is simply not consistent with the facts.


Senator David Curtis

Head over to WUNC to read Sarah’s letter.


  1. ML

    May 13, 2014 at 10:28 am

    There is no union. None period.

  2. Jim

    May 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Like a rose is a rose by any other name a union by any other name is a union.

  3. William S

    May 13, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Jim, I have to laugh… You do yourself no favors criticizing education while butchering a stanza from one of the more important western writers…

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

  4. Lewis Guignard

    May 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    The NEA of North Carolina is not technically a union, but they sure act like one as much as they’re allowed to.

    I agree with the Senator: if they don’t like the heat, leave. The other side of that is, we should be rid of tenure so those, like Sarah, who don’t respect the profession, can be more easily removed. Also, the tripe coming from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools about why teachers are leaving is just that: tripe.

  5. Jeff Barrett

    May 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Clueless! The good senator is totally clueless when it comes to teacher pay. First, we have no Teachers Union in NC!
    Second, where does he get that we will receive $35,000 per year when we retire! We will roughly receive about fifty four percent of our base pay.
    Third, eight weeks paid vacation a year? I am assuming he is talking about teachers being off in the summer. Surprise, surprise we are considered ten month employees so we put money back to live on for those two months in the summer!
    One word to describe some of our elected officials: DUMB!

  6. Will

    May 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Wow, how ignorant is this guy? Teachers do not get 8-weeks paid vacation because they are on a 10-month contract. It is unpaid time off. Perk yes, but the email he sent/posted only reveals his ignorance while only further substantiating the teachers claim.

  7. Nan

    May 13, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Wait! We get 8 weeks paid vacation? The pay I get during the summer is taken out of my check each of the 10 months I am paid. Plus I work all summer to get ready for the next school year…which I am not compensated for. I could go on and on, low cost of living that is debatable.

  8. J willy

    May 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Disgusting. It’s time for this career politician to resign.

  9. Marc

    May 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    The idea that teachers get eight weeks of paid leave is a myth. While I’m sure there are some people who are terrible at their job, I know that many teachers throughout the state put in unpaid hours over winter and summer breaks. Sometimes this manifests as teachers putting in hours of planning; sometimes teachers putting in hours cleaning up neglected campuses.

    Most often, I see my colleagues spending their own money – since their is no budget for these things any longer – attending professional development conferences so that they can meet the standards set forth in teacher evaluation instruments created by bureaucrats. An unfunded mandate if there ever was one!

    I’d say that the requirements of my job as a teacher leave me with about 1 week off during the winter holidays, and 2 in the summer. This summer I will be spending two weeks doing professional development around the state – paid for out of my own pocket – and two weeks of unpaid time doing my job during the first days of August.

    Eight weeks of paid vacation…unbelievable that the people writing our budget still believe and propagate this myth.

    Further: Teachers in North Carolina do not have Union Representation. Assuming he is talking about the leadership of NCAE (note: I am a teacher but no longer a member), it is true they are affiliated with NEA but because NC is a right-to-work state, they do not function the same as unions in other states. They are essentially lobbyists.

  10. Marc

    May 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    * – there. Dangit. Should’ve proofread.

  11. Catherine

    May 13, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    North Carolina teachers need to take a lesson from those states with higher pay…get UNIONIZED. Seriously, why even begin another school year with that kind of abuse?

    And this admonishing email…It is because of a TEACHER, this jerk and others like him can read and even write this email. Teachers…get your act together and get united.

  12. melanie

    May 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I am ashamed of YOU! Before you go off on an ignorant rant about the benefits teachers in North Carolina receive, you may want to check them out and see what is truly offered. I don’t know of ANY teacher who receives 8 weeks of paid vacation…Maybe you just say that to help you sleep at night..or you get it confused with your benefits as a senator. Either way, you are very misinformed. I bring home 1800.00 a month after 10 years of teaching…Is that something to be commended? i am raising 3 boys and trying to keep a roof over our head. I COULD live off the government, and take handouts…but I guess I feel it is my responsibility, not the governments to take care of my family.
    I made more before I started in this profession. Do you have grandchildren or more likely great grandchildren in the public school system, or do you get your yearly raises and send them through private schools? Teachers are overworked and expected to do the impossible at times with no support. Have you not figured out that if you do not pay teachers a livable salary you wont get good qualified people to take on this highly important position. Even the higher institutions are feeling the pinch…Not many wants to go into the Education program…Why would they? This will reflect on the education of our children who in turn are the who hold the country’s future in their hands. Our country is falling apart because you guys only care about what affects you personally . We are so sick of fighting ignorant people at the top.
    Teachers go to school and received degrees, and are told that they will make a certain amount as a teacher…Even then it is not a lot, but enough to accept the task at hand. This contract is not held up by the government.
    Our pay is embarrassing..and the fact that we stay is embarrassing. To let the government treat teachers this way is embarrassing…But the profession in noble. I think you knew what she was saying. You just decided to turn it into an ugly argument. Your reply was uncalled for…and YOU should be embarrassed by it.
    You say go find another job…Maybe we should all take over the senators/governor jobs and finally get our education system fixed while it is still salvageable. And if teachers are overreacting…I invite you come to our classroom and do it daily. You know the system is crooked!

  13. melanie

    May 14, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I do see a few typos…that’s because I was fuming while I wrote this

  14. Robert

    May 16, 2014 at 12:31 am

    One point from the senator these replies have proven is attitude. The negativity towards the political system and finger pointing will do nothing to solve any issues with teacher pay and it is only poisoning the minds of the kids. I have been out of school ten years now and I can still to this day remember little comments teachers would make on pay or how the school was being ran and that had an affect on my opinion of the entire system. I also believe that we are getting very little bang for our buck out of public schools but there is plenty of blame to go around for that. In short all I see is a bunch of people yelling over one another and no one being willing to have a conversation on middle ground or how to improve the real problem in our schools which is graduates that are not ready for the real world.

  15. Carol

    May 16, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Senator Curtis is the “gift that keeps on giving”. He ISN’T my Senator and while he thinks that saves him from criticism or my bad impression of him and his party…he is just oh so very wrong! His nasty note back to a teacher is now in the public forum and he can be chided and GRADED perhaps for his rank contempt for teachers. It will have an effect not only on him and the perceptions of him, but also his party in general, the just say NO Republican Party of North Carolina. Thanks Dave, you did them proud!!! I am amazed at the stupidity of this man. If he really believes that teachers get 8 week PAID VACATIONS, he is a total moron. We have teachers in my family and they are paid on a ten month contract. During the summer, my daughter who teaches high school English, spends every day she is off in the summer, preparing lesson plans for the new school year. She reads constantly so that she can find new and interesting material to bring to her students. She is respected by the children she teaches and gets a ton of thanks every year from those who have gone off to college, all the better for having had her to impart some knowledge of English, literature, and an understanding that you have to work hard for a grade in her class. We need to get politics OUT of our schools. The legislature has proved for too many years that they lack the expertise to even begin to be the overall judges of teachers and what they do or don’t do. David Curtis has proved that point to my satisfaction.

  16. Buffys Still Learnin

    May 18, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Pardon me Senator, your ignorance is showing.
    Not in the simple “your slip is showing” kind of way. More along the lines of “your t-back thong and your pro-tramp stamp are showing” kind of way.

  17. susan norwood

    May 18, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Your response makes me sick. It perpetuates the same old story that teachers are paid during the summer to do nothing. Surely,
    Senator, you know better. We are contractually obligated to work 10 months. We are paid for 10 months. We can choose to be paid over 12 months, which allows the government to use our money for two months. You have disrespected teachers. Shame on you.

  18. Delphia Mason

    May 19, 2014 at 3:03 am

    Sen. David Curtis, such NONSENSE from a man who is supposed to be in the know: Union, 8 weeks paid vacation, $35,000 a year retirement pay. I guess you still believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa too. Get your head out of the clouds and learn some facts. By the way attacking a teacher shows what a BULLY you are.

  19. Maria Ruiz

    May 19, 2014 at 7:07 am

    This is exactly the reason why education is in the poor state it is, in our country. The pervasive lack of respect from our government and society is what our students are “picking up”. Private sector managers are respected. Sports team players and pop music stars are idolized. The respect award to these, are back by a very high cash flow toward their financial compensation.

    Our country “says” education is valued. Truth be told, it is just a popular running platform. Politicians will say what they think will get them votes. (One politician in my state names herself an education proponent but votes against public education in favor of privatized each time. Come to find out, she is very closely enfolded in a very profitable charter education company). Actions speak louder than words. The goal here is to privatize education so a few can profit off our children and tax dollars.

    Becareful where you tread. Statistics show that teachers are the lowest compensated professional. Private sector benefits have been chipped away by greed. I remember when just about all professions offered retirement pensions. Now only the highly padded CEO’s have the luxury of a secure retirement.

    We will invest our money in what we value, cars, cribs, bling, etc. The question is what do we REALLY value? If you think it’s the education of our most valuable resource, our children, then put your money where your mouth is.

  20. Dottie

    May 19, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I am from a similar “right to work state”. We have no union. We have an association, which can do little to help us when we are not being treated fairly. I spent my summers planning for the next year, taking classes to improve, and I also was on a 10 month contract. I had to make sure my pay stretched through the summer. A well-informed Senator would have done his homework before replying. Public school teachers today have so much to deal with. Charters get to “cherry pick” their students. Public schools do not. This means that students with learning problems and emotional/behavioral problems are filling public school classes, while charter and private schools don’t have to take these students. There is less funding for public schools because of charters, so teachers can’t get these students the assistance they need. Time to apologize to this teacher and to educators , Senator.

  21. Jeff

    May 20, 2014 at 6:28 am

    There are a few things Senator Curtis needs to understand. First, teachers work ten months and are paid ten months’ salary. Most teachers defer some of that salary to receive over the summer in order to keep a steadt cash flow, but it’s money that was already earned earlier in the year. Second, teachers and the cities and towns that employ them do not pay into Social Security. Like railroad employees, teachers and their employers pay into a separate pension plan. If Social Security were privatized, this is what it might look like. Third, with scripted lessons that dictate everything the teacher is to say and do in each lesson, there is no opportunity for students to pick up anything that comes from the teacher, including the teacher’s perspective and valuable life experiences. Those teachers, coaches and Boy Scout Leaders had freedom to be inspirational that today’s teachers do not have.

  22. Will

    May 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Amazing that as a native North Carolinian and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, I receive far better compensation and benefits to teach in ASIA then I would in North Carolina.

  23. Will

    May 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm


  24. Keith

    May 25, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I wonder if those who agree with Senator Curtis would like to back him up publicly…

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