Commentary, News

Triad TV news story: NC is failing its public school teachers

Reporter Bob Buckley of High Point based WGHP TV (aka “My Fox 8”) posted a fine story last night that explains some of the important ways in which North Carolina political leaders continue to fail the state’s public school teachers and, thereby of course, its students. In particular, the story has harsh words for Senator Phil Berger’s punitive and destructive school grading system:

Jennifer Mangrum is on a mission.

Mangrum was a teacher for 15 years and now helps prepare tomorrow’s teachers as a professor at UNC-Greensboro’s highly-respected School of Education. She also has had op-ed pieces in many of North Carolina’s major newspapers, making the case that the things the General Assembly is doing for education are likely, in her view, counter-productive in the long run.

Among those things was the “grading system” that was started for parents to know how well their child’s school was performing.

“I think the intention was to hold schools accountable,” says Mangrum. “But what we found through research is that an F school pretty much just determines the level of poverty. And when you have high numbers of kids in poverty, they don’t have all those wrap-around resources, right? They don’t have health care, they don’t have vision care. Some of them have a scarcity of food.”

Mangrum’s take on the grading system mirrors the analysis and conclusions of scores of experts that labeling schools as failing is no way to coax or drive better results. Instead, it takes a genuine commitment to improving school resources, combating poverty, hunger and lack of housing and health care and, of course, promoting better diversity and integration in the schools.

The story goes on to highlight the despair that many teachers feel as a result of their low pay, lack of resources and respect and the state’s obsession with high-stakes testing.

Let’s hope Buckley keeps producing high quality segments like this one that it inspires other journalists around the state to keep telling this vitally important story. Click here to read/watch “Teachers say they need more support.”

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