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At a Tuesday morning roundtable sponsored by Dell, Intel and the N.C. Business Committee for Education, Gov. Pat McCrory spoke to educators and business leaders who were gathered at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to strategize about ways to improve teacher effectiveness and next generation learning.

Using the opportunity to reiterate his education goals for the upcoming legislative session, which include paying all teachers more, McCrory hammered home his idea to create a “career pathway plan.”

“We want to ensure teachers have a career…and not a temporary stopover,” said McCrory, explaining that currently teachers have no way to move up in their profession unless they move into higher-paying administrative roles – a career move that not all practitioners are interested in making.

In addition to proposing a two percent average pay increase for all teachers and paying beginning teachers even more, McCrory proposed last week to create a long-term plan that would entice more teachers to stay in the profession by seeing salary increases that are linked to their work as teachers.

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WUNC’s Dave DeWitt posted last night a reply sent by Sen. David Curtis (R-Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln) to teacher Sarah Wiles, who emailed the General Assembly about her frustrations with the state of the teaching profession and the unwillingness on the part of lawmakers to pay teachers a decent salary.

Sen. Curtis wasn’t having what she had to tell him.

From: Sen. David Curtis

Date: May 12, 2014 at 9:46:57

Dear Sarah,

I have given your e-mail titled “I am embarrassed to confess: I am a teacher” some thought, and these are my ideas.  A teacher has an incredible influence on students–for good or for bad. My teachers, coaches, and Boy Scout leaders had a great influence on my decision to go to college which was not a family tradition. My concern is that your students are picking up on your attitude toward the teaching profession. Since you naturally do not want to remain in a profession of which you are ashamed, here are my suggestions for what you should tell your potential new private sector employer:

1.    You expect to make a lot more than you made as a teacher because everyone knows how poorly compensated teachers are.

2.    You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher

3.    You expect a defined contribution retirement plan that will guarantee you about $35,000 per year for life after working 30 years even if you live to be 104 years old. Your employer will need to put about $16,000 per year into your retirement plan each year combined with your $2,000 contribution for the next 30 years to achieve this benefit.  If he objects, explain to him that a judge has ruled that the taxpayers of North Carolina must provide this benefit to every public school teacher. Surely your new employer wants to give better benefits than the benefits you received as a poorly compensated teacher.

4.    Your potential employer may tell you that he has heard that most North Carolina workers make less than the national average because we are a low cost-of-living- state, private sector workers making 87% of the national average and teachers making 85% of the national average.  Tell him that may be true, but to keep that confidential because the teachers union has convinced parents that teachers are grossly undercompensated based on a flawed teachers union survey of teacher pay.

I support the teacher pay raise but am very concerned that the teachers union has successfully presented to the public a deceptive view of total teacher compensation that is simply not consistent with the facts.

Sincerely,

Senator David Curtis

Head over to WUNC to read Sarah’s letter.

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

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

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.