Forsyth County high school teacher Stuart Egan, whose open letter critiquing a legislative plan to turn struggling public schools over to for-profit charter school operators got a great deal of deserved attention last month, has penned another “must read.” This one is a detailed and lengthy response to a recent essay by State Rep. Jon Hardister of Guilford County in which Hardister attempted to argue that the state’s conservative political leadership has not been waging “a war on public education.”
After debunking several of Hardister’s claims about education spending (which, as Egan notes, continues to fall when one accounts for enrollment growth), Egan offers the following list of recent state actions vis a vis public schools:
- The financing of failed charter schools that have no oversight.
- The funding of vouchers (Opportunity Grants) that effectively remove money for public education and reallocate it to private schools.
- The underfunding of our public university system, which forces increases in tuition, while giving tax breaks to companies who benefit from our educated workforce.
- The dismantling of the Teaching Fellows Program that recruited our state’s brightest to become the teachers of our next generation.
- The removal of the cap for class size for traditional schools and claiming it will not impede student learning.
- The removal of graduate pay salary increases for those new teachers who have a Master’s degree or higher.
- The administration of too many tests (EOCTs, MSLs, CCs, NC Finals, etc.), many of which are scored well after grades are due.
- The constant change in curriculum standards (Standard Course of Study, Common Core, etc.).
- The appointment of non-educators to leadership roles in writing new curricula.
- The engagement with profit-motivated companies and no-bid contracts with entities like Pearson that dictate not only what teachers are allowed to teach but also how students are assessed.
All in all, Egan’s essay is a powerful, if sobering, read. Click here to read it in its entirety.