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This morning’s Charlotte Observer has an excellent editorial on Judge Robert Hobgood’s recent decision that at least partially strikes down the counter-productive law passed last year that would end teacher career status:

“Last week we urged lawmakers to ditch this law during their short session that’s under way. We repeat that today. Time and tax dollars are being wasted in litigation.

If the past is an indicator, lawmakers are likely to appeal, as they’ve done with other court rulings on controversial laws they passed last year. But it is wrong to string this matter out with more legal action. The law was a wrongheaded move – and an unnecessary one.

Proponents contended that the new law, set to go into effect in 2018, was needed to ensure that bad teachers could be removed from the classroom. They argued that the current system protected poor performers.

Hogwash. Bad teachers could be fired before this law. The current system, in place since 1971, only guaranteed educators a hearing.

Hobgood’s ruling now reiterates that fact.

Unfortunately, this injunction applies only to teachers who already have career status. Teachers without such status – which is granted to those who made it beyond the first four years of a probationary period – are not covered.

Lawmakers should give up this fight. But if they won’t, they should suspend the process for teachers not covered by this injunction until litigation is done.

A two-tiered system where some teachers have hearing rights that others do not would compound the bad legislative decision a judge has now rightly upended.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood ruled this morning that the state’s repeal of teacher tenure, also known as “career status,” and the 25 percent contract system that would award temporary employment contracts to those who relinquish their tenure, are both unconstitutional. Hobgood issued a permanent injunction.

“It’s a great day for teachers in North Carolina,” said Rodney Ellis, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, following Hobgood’s ruling.chalk25

Last summer, lawmakers moved to phase teacher tenure out completely by 2018, on the basis that the law makes it too difficult to get rid of bad teachers. The legislature also mandated local school boards to offer temporary 4-year employment contracts beginning this fall worth $500 annually to the top performing 25 percent of teachers in the state. Teachers who accept the contracts would be required to relinquish their tenure early.

Tenure, or career status, offers a teacher due process rights in the event of a dismissal or demotion. Its repeal, said Hobgood, is an unconstitutional taking of teachers’ property rights.

Hobgood’s order also lets local school boards off the hook from being required to offer the 25 percent contracts to teachers. Hobgood characterized the 25 percent contract system as having no standards to guide school districts in how they would award them, further adding that temporary contracts for career status teachers are not reasonable or necessary for public purpose.

A significant percentage of the state’s 115 school districts have passed resolutions indicating their discontent with the contract system and asking the legislature to repeal the law. Guilford and Durham counties just won their own court ruling that granted them relief from having to award the contracts.

While the next step is to celebrate with teachers across the state, NCAE president Ellis added that he does anticipate an appeal to come from the state.

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In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer has a brief but on-the-money editorial this morning on the Berger-Tillis-McCrory plan enacted last year to do away with the right of public school teachers to get a hearing before they’re fired:

“The teacher pay plan McCrory is proposing – if lawmakers approve it – might force a change anyway. In addition to giving teachers an immediate pay boost, his plan calls for replacing the current teacher compensation structure with a plan that raises all pay and offers teachers $3,000 pay increases every three years, plus more based on factors such as willingness to teach high-need subjects, teaching in high-need schools and taking on leadership roles.

Lawmakers should junk this law regardless. It’s unnecessary. Bad teachers could be fired before this law. The system only guaranteed them a hearing.

Last month, a Superior Court judge in Greensboro suspended the law in Guilford and Durham counties where lawsuits were filed. The judge clarified Friday that his injunction does not extend to other counties. Still, school systems statewide overwhelmingly disapprove of the law, with superintendents saying there’s no fair way to designate a top 25 percent when the majority of teachers do good work.

During the short session, lawmakers should ditch this law. It’s wasting taxpayer dollars in litigation.”

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/11/4899679/teacher-law-not-needed-should.html#.U3Cfl6JB_4s#storylink=cpy
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The Greensboro News & Record puts it this way this morning:

“No one aims to excuse teachers from accountability. Merit pay based on outstanding performance also is worth considering. But finding fair and effective ways to set those policies demands careful study, not an arbitrary mandate that enforces a penalty with the reward. Guilford’s school board members didn’t think that was right, and they’ve been upheld so far.

Their suit doesn’t deal with the larger issue of eliminating tenure for all teachers by 2018. That’s a bad move, too, and ought to be rescinded. At the very least, an N.C. School Boards Association proposal to end tenure for new teachers, but leave it for those who already earned it, is better.

When its spring session begins next month, the legislature should repeal its flawed teacher contract edict. That will spare further legal proceedings and allow time for a more thoughtful approach to teacher compensation and accountability.

[Judge] Doughton made the right call to spare the Guilford and Durham school boards, for now, from the weight of a misguided policy. It’s time to start over.”

Meanwhile, Raleigh’s News & Observer says this:

“Tenure is not what Republicans say it is, and the so-called rewards program for top teachers is not what they say it is. If GOP leaders won’t turn the tide on their attempts to diminish public schools and the teachers who do the noble work in their classrooms, let’s hope the courts continue to do it for them.”

If only the state’s political leaders could see the obvious folly of their ways that seems so apparent to most observers and those affected by their actions.

Read the full editorials by clicking here and here.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/24/3808878/court-rightly-puts-hold-on-law.html?sp=/99/108/#storylink=cpy
Lunch Links

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.