State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson have been voicing opposition to the big teacher-led education rally that’s taking shape next Wednesday in Raleigh. Berger attacked the one-day event and even likened it to a teacher strike, which he proceeded to describe in a thinly veiled threat as “illegal.” Johnson also criticized the rally because it is on a school day and said he would not attend.
Funny that neither Berger nor Johnson raised such concerns earlier this year when conservative school choice advocates – including teachers, parents and students – held a rally in Raleigh on, Tuesday, January 23 – a school day.
At that time, Johnson thought it appropriate not just to endorse the event, but to attend and serve as a featured speaker. Johnson told the crowd:
“I’m excited to celebrate school choice and I’m excited to celebrate the fact that North Carolina is actually one of the leading states in our nation, giving choices to students and parents for them to decide the best way they learn.”
For his part, Berger took to his Facebook page on January 25 to praise the event and to celebrate Johnson’s appearance. Neither voiced any concerns about teachers and students missing school for a day.
As this morning’s lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal observes, Berger, Johnson and other state leaders ought to be taking the same approach to next week’s event – not playing partisan and ideological games:
“We encourage our state representatives and senators to take the time to meet educators and hear what they have to say.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson, who hasn’t always been treated kindly by the teachers’ union, says he won’t attend, but he should. The event has not been billed as a ‘protest,’ as he’s stated, but as a rally that will focus on such issues as teacher pay, per pupil spending, classroom resources, school safety and more, the Journal reported….
It’s an understatement to say that our schools have not been supported as well as they should have been over the last decade — longer, really. Teachers and students have to deal daily with crumbling school buildings, out-of-date textbooks and a lack of other resources. Our legislature has prioritized tax cuts for the wealthy over preparing the next generation to take the reins and lead our state into success.
Several teachers’ groups across the country have gone on strike to gain better pay and working conditions. Ours are asking for a conversation. That’s not unreasonable.”
The bottom line: The Journal editorial is on the money. Neither man is going to do any good by treating teachers as the enemy for speaking out for better state policies. Both should get over their selective amnesia and start working with teachers rather than against them.