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School-vouchersIn case you missed it over the weekend, be sure to check out Professor Jane Wettach’s excellent essay in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which she exposes the enormous practical and constitutional problems with the school voucher scheme passed into law by conservative politicians last summer. The essay comes, of course,  in the aftermath of Friday’s very welcome court ruling that enjoined the implementation of the new law. Among other things, Wettach cites several damning statistics from a new report by the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University Law School including:

  • A total of 696 private schools are registered with the State Division of Non-Public Education. Of those, 70 percent are religious and 30 percent are independent.
  • A quarter of the private schools have enrollments of fewer than 20 students; nearly another quarter have enrollments of fewer than 50 students. Read More

School-vouchersIf you haven’t already done so, check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File in which Chris highlights the most recent cynical efforts of anti-government crusaders to cloak their efforts to dismantle public education behind a protective phalanx of poor kids and their families. As Chris notes in discussing yesterday’s efforts by voucher supporters to resist a broad-based lawsuit against the state’s new “Opportunity Scholarships” program:

“It’s an understandable strategic decision voucher supporters are making, claiming that their only concern is improving the education of poor kids. They’d rather not talk about their anti-government ideology that’s behind their crusade to dismantle public education, one of the last government institutions that enjoys widespread support. Read More

After Gov. Pat McCrory and state legislative leaders announced their pay raise plan for new and less-experienced teachers last week, a pair of veteran teachers from Davie County (who also happen to be married) felt compelled to respond. Here is their open letter:

Dear Governor McCrory,

We moved here in 1998 from New York. North Carolina promised us a chance at living our dreams and becoming teachers. Although it was difficult, we moved 600 miles south, away from family and friends, away from the comforts of home, to start a life in Davie County. Culture shock aside, things went well. We assimilated quickly and seamlessly became crucial parts of our school and community’s culture. Both of us were elected Teacher of the Year for our schools, became National Board Certified Teachers, and achieved our Masters Degrees from North Carolina Universities. Life was good. Each of us became respected members of our school. We bought a modest house in a new neighborhood and in a few years two children were born.

We made a good living, were able to take small vacations and laugh. We could fill up our tanks and buy groceries without having to constantly check to be sure we could afford these necessities.

We didn’t expect to become rich doing the job we love to do. We knew from the very beginning that the payoff in education is not the savings account, but in the touched lives and future investment. We knew we would always need to balance our checkbooks and account for the summers off, but we were okay with that. We were able to live our lives, put two children in daycare, and still invest a little bit for the future.

Sixteen years later, things are different. Read More

TeachersOccasional NC Policy Watch contributor and Asheville communications consultant Betsey Russell sent us the following essay about her experience with business plans (like the one advanced by Gov. McCrory this week) that target pay raises for junior employees at the expense of veterans:

The Value of Experience
By Betsey Russell

A few years ago, I sold my small company to a larger one. I had a small staff of experienced professionals at my firm, most with several years under their belts and a strong intention to stay in our line of work. They were hardworking, creative, and extremely valuable in terms of our overall profitability. In fact, their work is what helped make my firm attractive for the purchaser.

So, imagine my dismay when I was negotiating on behalf of my staff with the new company owner about compensation and benefits, and he suggested that instead of retaining these highly trained professionals, he might simply replace them with workers who were “younger and cheaper.”

This experience came to mind when I reviewed Governor McCrory’s plans to increase the salaries of starting teachers, but not the salaries of the valuable veterans I have so appreciated in my children’s classrooms. Read More

Editorials from North Carolina’s major newspapers are starting to come in on the Governor’s plan to raise pay for about a third of the state’s teachers. Here are four:

The Greensboro News & Record:

“Why show respect for just one-third of teachers? Why only invest in some? Leaving out the two-thirds who worked the longest for low pay betrays a poor regard for their contributions. The governor should push for an across-the-board increase, along with an extra boost for starting salaries.”

The Charlotte Observer: Read More