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Some of North Carolina’s teachers who have reached the end of their ropes are making their reasons for quitting their jobs very public.

As reported by The Carolina Mercury, Pam Lilley, a school library media specialist in Cornelius, N.C., created a Pinterest-style website last year where teachers who could not afford to teach any longer or who were outraged by the legislature’s education policy decisions and had decided to quit could publish either their resignation letters or reasons for quitting for the world to read.

“I have to take a stand somehow, and one of the ways I can do that is by quitting,” said one teacher, Anastasia Trueman. “I hate that I have to do that because it’s hurting the kids more than anybody, but if I really cannot sustain a living then that’s what I have to do.”

“The fact of the matter is that teachers have student loans, bills and families,” said a teacher who identified herself as Aimi. “I cannot count the number of times we have lamented the 20th of the month because we get paid on the 25th and no one has gas money. We borrow from our elementary aged children’s birthday stash to fill our gas tanks. We joke that pasta and butter are the staple in the house, but there is a cruel seriousness to it. We cancel doctor appointments because we can’t afford the co-pays. And this is NOT just the lament of new teacher on an unjustified pay scale. We are veteran teachers.”

To read more about why some North Carolina teachers are quitting, visit ResignNC.

To the surprise of some of its own members, a legislative task force studying alternative ways to compensate teachers in the state put forth a report today asking the General Assembly to consider a short-term goal of significantly increasing the salaries of entering teachers and those teachers who are most likely to leave–which would be teachers with less than ten years of experience.

That recommendation mirrors Gov. Pat McCrory’s recent teacher pay proposal that would reward only beginning teachers in the state with significant pay raises, bringing their salaries up from $30,800 to $35,000 by 2015.

But task force members who were not lawmakers — teachers, principals, and other education stakeholders – were taken aback  by the report that bears their names, indicating their feedback wasn’t taken into account during the report’s development.

“Why were we brought here? I don’t sense the education professionals on this panel had much input in the report,” said Timothy Barnsback, President of the Professional Educators of North Carolina (PENC). Read More

Lots of education news swirling around out there, so here are a few stories to keep you up to date as you enjoy your midday meal.

First, the great reporters over at WUNC have a few really interesting education stories up this week.

Dave DeWitt demystifies the complicated EVAAS system for evaluating North Carolina’s teachers, which some say is a big fat secret in terms of how it truly measures whether or not a teacher is doing a good job.

DeWitt also has a story today about all of the various teacher pay proposals on the table – and why merit pay plans may not work.

And WUNC’s Reema Khrais has fact-checked seven claims about the Common Core State Standards. See what she found here.

Kansas is having a rough week. Lawmakers took a page out of North Carolina’s book and decided enact a series of education reforms, including:

• Foster school choice by allowing corporations to receive tax credits for contributions to scholarship funds so children with special needs or who come from low-income households could attend private school.

• Make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating their due-process rights.

• Relax teacher licensing when hiring instructors with professional experience in areas including math, science, finance and technical education.

In Texas, a school teacher was suspended for being transgender.

And to end on a happier note, a couple of Guilford County Schools ranked pretty high in school rankings released by The Washington Post. Penn-Griffin School for the Arts made it into the top 100, and Grimsely High wasn’t far behind at 128.

The Walton Family Foundation, known for supporting vouchers, charters, and other school privatization initiatives across the country, paid $710,000 to NC-based school voucher advocacy group Parents for Educational Freedom NC (PEFNC) in 2013, an increase of more than $100,000 over its 2012 contribution to the group.

Parents for Educational Freedom NC has received large contributions from Walton since at least 2009. The Walton Family has paid PEFNC $275,000 in 2009, $525,000 in 2010, $625,000 in 2011 and $600,000 in 2012, according to the foundation’s website.

Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom NC, has seen his own compensation increase considerably as the influx of Walton money has ramped up. In 2010, Allison received $107,889 for his work running the non-profit; in 2012, Allison reported an income of $156,582—a 45 percent pay increase in just two years.

PEFNC has been the primary advocacy group responsible for bringing school vouchers to North Carolina.

Last summer, lawmakers passed the Opportunity Scholarships program, a school voucher program that would enable taxpayer dollars to be funneled directly to private schools–$10 million in 2014-15 and $40 million in 2015-16, with the goal of expanding the program even further in the future.

The law, passed as a part of the budget bill last summer, provides little in the way of accountability for private schools while reducing funds for public education at a time when schools are seeing sharp reductions in funding over a years-long period.

Parents, educators, and school boards came together late last year to file lawsuits seeking to block the implementation of the school voucher program. In February, those groups received a temporary victory when a Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction in the case, stopping the program from moving ahead pending a final resolution.

A D.C.-based law firm, the Institute for Justice, intervened in the school voucher case on behalf of parents who want the voucher program to move forward. That firm also received a significant donation from Walton in 2013 — $530,547.

The Walton Family recently announced plans to double the number of students enrolled in private schools with the support of publicly funded school vouchers. Naming North Carolina as one state of several where new “parent choice” laws have been passed, the Waltons will give $6 million to the Alliance for School Choice, on organization that provides model legislation for state lawmakers to use as they introduce bills that would create alternatives to public education.

To see the full list of Walton’s grantees, click here.

Statesville’s Record & Landmark reports that when McCrory presented his ideas for teacher pay last week to those attending the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner, local education officials in attendance weren’t too keen on his handiwork.

Specifically, McCrory offered three suggestions regarding changing the way teachers are paid in the state: Raising the salary of a teacher with zero to five years of experience from $30,800 to $35,000; tying teacher pay to the market value of the subject taught; and allowing for raises for highly effective teachers to the point that the best classroom teachers could earn as much as a principal.

I-SS Superintendent Brady Johnson said the first two ideas especially could result in hits to teacher morale, and thought that allowing the best teachers to get paid as much as a principal was a novel concept, although it might be difficult to design an evaluation system that makes fair judgments.

On allowing for greater raises to the most effective teachers, Brinkley cautioned that numbers could be skewed toward educators who handle students with fewer issues in their personal lives, and are thus able to perform better at school regardless of who leads the classroom.

And on merit pay, Johnson offered these thoughts:

“Private sector policies or merit-based pay don’t work in public education. We don’t choose the best-skilled students, we take them all,” Brinkley said.

Johnson said he felt that the pay scale should “entice our most effective teachers to stay in the classroom and go into administration.” But, looking at the big picture, he said he thinks teachers just need to feel like their profession is appreciated and respected.

“My personal feeling about teacher pay is this: People that go into public education, they don’t go into it for the money. They know that they’re going into a profession that is never going to pay them their true worth,” Johnson said. “Most teachers would be very satisfied if they just had a livable wage – pay the rent, put food on the table. If we could get teachers to the point where they could make a living doing their calling and not worry about working part-time jobs and how they’re going to pay for their children’s college education, that would be the best thing that we could possibly do.”

Read more about McCrory’s recent teacher pay proposals here and here. And read the full Record & Landmark story here.