Today we wrap up our #NCEdVoter series with veteran educator Michelle Burton. Burton knows the power of voting – the power of what is possible when you elect leaders who have a vision for North Carolina that includes high-quality schools and top-notch educators.
We hope you will enjoy Burton’s op-ed and make the commitment to vote on Tuesday, November 6th.
I started my education career in the 1990’s during Governor Jim Hunt’s administration. Back then Gov. Hunt was known as the education governor because he strongly believed that it was important to invest in our children, our teachers, and our public schools to make our state an economic powerhouse. During that time our schools were being funded adequately and we were getting to the national average for teacher pay. There were even teacher assistants in grades K-3. As a matter of fact, North Carolina was seen as a leader in the country on how to run public schools. People were moving here from all over the country because of our schools were doing such a great job of educating our students.
Then in 2010 things began to change drastically. Teacher salaries stagnated. Per pupil funding began to decrease. Teacher assistants were eliminated in second and third grades. Textbook funding was dwindled to almost nothing. The school voucher law was passed. The A-F letter grade system was implemented. Master’s pay for teachers was gone. Longevity pay for teachers was cut. Career Status, better known as tenure, went away.
This is when I realized schools are political and I can’t sit back and watch the total destruction of public education in our state. Many people want to leave politics out of public schools. However, the politicians that we elect to the North Carolina General Assembly have total authority of how our public schools are operated. They decide if our students have up to date resources. They decide the class sizes for our students. They decide if we have enough school counselors, nurses, and school psychologists. They decide if teachers get raises. They decide the licensure and education programs for teachers. They even decide what days we start school and what days we must end school. Politicians make all of these decisions.
Therefore it is important for me to elect pro-public education candidates who want our state to move forward and lead. I want North Carolina to be progressive when it comes to public education. All children deserve a high quality public education regardless of their socio-economic status. That is why I am a #NCEDVoter.
Michelle Burton is a veteran educator who has taught for 24 years in North Carolina. She works as an elementary school library media specialist in Durham, NC and serves on the executive board of the Durham Association of Educators.