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In case you missed it, Charlotte lawyer Luke Largess had an excellent letter to the editor published in the Charlotte Observer yesterday on the oft-misreported subject of teacher tenure and the conservative crusade to turn all state public school teachers into, effectively, temps.

“Last Friday’s Observer reported the misgivings of superintendents and school boards over the end of teacher tenure, and the challenge in determining who will be the 25 percent of teachers to be offered four-year contracts with $500/year pay raises. Sunday’s editorial also discussed these issues. But the Observer disserves this important discussion by continually repeating two Republican myths about these coming changes.

The first fable is that tenure must end because only 17 tenured teachers were fired in the 2011-12 school year. That number, from a line in the annual Department of Public Instruction report on teacher turnover, ignores the full DPI report and the story it tells.

The central fact: 11,791 teachers left their jobs that year, including 5,599 with tenure. Some tenured teachers left voluntarily, but DPI’s report shows that many were forced out. At several stages in the dismissal process, a tenured teacher can resign. The 17 “dismissed” teachers either went through the statutory hearing process to the bitter end, or never requested a hearing and were dismissed summarily. DPI’s 2012 data show that most teachers put in the dismissal crucible resign. 147 tenured teachers “resigned in lieu of termination” in 2012. And that figure also only tells part of the story. Read More

In case you missed it over the weekend, Raleigh’s News & Observer told it like it is in an editorial about the state’s destructive new teacher “tenure” law:

“Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has an idea that North Carolina is rife with incompetent teachers who coast along in the system thanks to tenure. That’s why he pushed through legislation this year that will end tenure protection for the so-called low performers and will reward the high performers. Read More

On Friday, Chris Mai of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities documented some remarkable numbers related to American support for public education. As her chart below shows, North Carolina’s dwindling support parallels a disturbing national trend:

 ”Local governments added 20,000 education jobs in the month of August, the Labor Department reported today.  That’s good news, but schools remain in a big hole from the recession:  local school districts still have 297,000 fewer jobs than in August 2008 (see chart).

Education cuts chart

This means that, even as K-12 enrollment has risen — by 800,000 students between the fall of 2008 and fall of 2013, according to the Education Department — schools have fewer teachers, librarians, principals, guidance counselors, nurses, and other staff to help them.

Instead of setting our students up for success at the start of a new school year, we’re giving them less support than just a few years ago.

 

School testsAt the risk of committing education policy world heresy by saying something positive about the Department of Public Instruction and the federal Department of Education, let’s hear three cheers for the following announcement from the NC Public Schools website:

“Thanks to a grant and supplemental funds from the U.S. Department of Education, every eligible North Carolina high school student who took an Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam last year will have his or her test fees covered.

As a part of the federal Advanced Placement Test Fee Program, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) will receive more than $880,000 to cover AP and IB exam fees for all low-income students who qualify. The Department will use the funds to reimburse districts for the IB exam fees and pay College Board directly on behalf of districts to cover outstanding balances they incurred for eligible students. Read More