In an opinion piece published this morning by the News and Observer, Hendersonville high school English teacher Chris Gilbert acknowledges the recent pay raise bestowed upon teachers by state lawmakers (significant for some and minuscule for others), but says he believes it is not demonstrative of politicians’ renewed commitment to public education.
Now, certain politicians can claim [the teacher pay raise of 2014] represents a renewed commitment to public education, and they secretly hope the pay increase will distract us from recent events that challenge this false narrative and reveal their true intentions.
We, however, have not forgotten the recent past.
We remember the recent plan to “reward” the top 25 percent of a district’s educators with small raises in exchange for relinquishing due process rights.
We remember that North Carolina’s teachers were recently among the lowest paid in the country.
We remember the passing of a state budget that led various districts to cut teacher assistants.
We remember a damaging bill passed last year that eliminated class size caps in early grades.
We remember the reduction of textbook funding from over $111 million in 2009 to $23.3 million in 2014.
We remember the implementation of the unconstitutional voucher program that siphons funds from public education to private schools.
We remember changes to the tax structure that have decreased revenue and threatened sustainable funding for teacher pay, our education system and other essential services.This list could certainly continue, but the point should be clear: Recent state history reveals serious intent, and multiple attempts, to dismantle public education in order to justify privatization and create profit opportunities in the public sector.