The follies of the North Carolina General Assembly and its shortsighted attitudes toward public education (and public service in general) are neatly illustrated by two stories in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal.
In “Who’s a teacher? The legislature wrongly decides,” reporter Scott Sexton tells the story of veteran teacher named Patti Morrison who, because of the absurd, complex and bureaucratic new teacher pay plan and teacher redefinition laws adopted this year by the General Assembly and Governor McCrory, is now considered “a person who is employed to fill a full-time, permanent position.”
As Sexton reports:
“So for someone such as Morrison, who is teaching reading to elementary school kids on a part-time basis, or a certified teacher who is filling a temporary classroom position, that means they’re technically no longer considered teachers.
Instead, they’re lumped into a more disposable employment category. They’re now considered ‘at-will employees,’ those ‘not entitled to the employment protections provided a career employee or probationary teacher,’ according to House Bill 719.
That might seem like an exercise in semantics to you or me, but to Morrison it amounts to a body blow. To her, the state stripped her of a key part of her identity. She chose to become a teacher because she could see the profound impact she could have on young lives.”
Story two is this editorial entitled “Paying more than twice as much, thanks to legislature.” In it, the Journal tells the ridiculous story of the Forsyth County school system which used to make use of a Department of Transportation crew to fix parking lots. Now, thanks to the General Assembly and the Governor and their never-ending commitment to the “genius of the free market,” the school system is paying twice as much to private contractors to do the same job:
“Darrell Walker, assistant superintendent of operations for the local school district, told the Journal that the district was mainly using the DOT crew to chip seal student parking lots. The average price from the DOT has been about $5.25 per square yard, he said, and he estimates that the private-sector move will cost the district about $12 per square yard.
‘This may force us to really push some projects back that we had planned on doing earlier,’ he said.
The budget bill provision mandates that the DOT outsource more of its pavement preservation work over the next four years. At least 80 percent of the department’s pavement preservation budget must be going to the private paving industry by 2018, Herron reported.”
In short, these are the kind of practical, day-to-day examples of what you get when your state leadership elevates right-wing theory and ideology over common sense and a commitment to public structures the common good. Sadly, such examples are becoming the norm, rather than the exception in the North Carolina under construction by Art Pope and his hirelings in state government.