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One 32-year veteran teacher writes,

It has been many years now since a “principal” asked my professional opinion about a purchase. They do the buying without our information. The results have been disastrous. They cut the book-buying budget in half since we earned School of Distinction. They buy canned reading programs for millions of dollars that are little more than nonsense words printed on card stock. Teachers are told to follow the canned scripts with fidelity. “Spell the word with your finger in the air. Now spell it backwards.” It is so absurd to have a young teacher with a masters degree in reading, following a ridiculous script: Ask a 5-year-old child who does not understand English to spell a nonsense word and then do it backwards!

When the child goes “in the red” on assessments of nonsense word fluency, a parent meeting is called. I have to translate the message “your child is failing nonsense word fluency.” What is going on here?

People who have never taught a child to read are making decisions about reading curriculum.

Some people are making a lot of money. Kids are not learning. Teachers are demoralized.

This is Readicide.

Read the full story, and many more, over at Your Soapbox.

In today’s Soapbox, this fifth year English teacher explains why she’s considering leaving the classroom — she has her family to consider.

I didn’t expect to hear from everyone, inside and outside of education, “Get out while you can.” No one is encouraging me to stay–not with a family to consider, for sure. So it’s coming down to actually making a decision about leaving. Researching graduate schools. Seeing what else I can do. Because when I got my degree, and when I first started teaching, it was all I wanted to do. Now, it’s all I know. And however much I love it, it’s hard to keep doing something that feels like it’s wearing you down, day by day.

I feel like I’ve been betrayed by the state. I feel betrayed by the country–with all the new testing standards and, on all levels, nit-picky details we have to focus on that aren’t simply teaching (learning targets, Common Core, data out the ears, more acronyms than I ever imagined possible). News reports always sound surprised that something isn’t working, and instead of addressing the problems of poverty or consulting teachers (for real, not the symbolic “involvement” in Common Core development), we move on to the next thing that some company is offering.

It almost feels like leaving an abusive relationship.

Read her story and dozens more from teachers over at Your Soapbox. Have a story of your own? Submit it here.

Charlotte Observer columnist Fannie Flono adds some important details to the discussion of North Carolina’s soaring teacher turnover rate in this new column. After citing an article in The Atlantic magazine, Flono says this:

“The Atlantic article, though, put the issue of teacher retention into the broader perspective it needs. Quoting Richard Ingersoll, a former high school teacher who is now a University of Pennsylvania professor whose research focuses on teacher turnover, the article pinpoints workplace issues as the crux of the problem. Quite a few of those workplace issues are often the result of lawmakers’ policies.

Ingersoll said one big reason teachers quit the profession is the ‘lack of respect’ the job engenders – and he wasn’t talking about lack of respect from students. ‘Teachers in schools do not call the shots. They have very little say. They’re told what to do; it’s a very disempowered line of work,’ Ingersoll said. Read More

Last night, all members of the New Hanover Board of Education voted in favor of a resolution urging state lawmakers to repeal the mandate that the top 25 percent of teachers be offered 4-year contracts and $500 annual pay bonuses in exchange for giving up their tenure.

The resolution also calls for allowing New Hanover to to opt out of offering the contracts altogether, asking that the General Assembly keep their money.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the New Hanover County Board of Education requests that the General Assembly allow it to retain its prorated share of the $10 Million Dollars allocated for the 25 percent contract to be used for alternative pay or compensation for additional duties such as mentoring or leadership roles; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED FURTHER that the New Hanover County Board of Education urges the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the 25 percent contract and develop a more effective long-term compensation plan for teachers tied to career paths with input from the education and business community.

Teachers have said that the contracts will discourage collaboration and pit teachers against one another as they compete for small salary bumps, which could hurt student learning conditions. Chairman of the New Hanover school board, Don Hayes, said he hopes the resolution will increase teacher morale and show that the school board supports teachers.

Tenure, formally known as “career status,” offers teachers due process rights in the event they are fired or demoted. It is not a lifelong guarantee of a job.

For more on the new teacher contract system, check out my recent story on the topic here.

Members of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee gathered this morning to discuss North Carolina’s recent drop in test score results thanks to the adoption of more rigorous standards and to take a look at the state’s model teacher contract that is set to be finalized at the State Board of Education meeting later this week.

Only 32 percent of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in reading and mathematics in 2012-13 – almost a 27 percent drop from the previous year, when 58.9 percent of students were proficient in both subjects.

Department of Public Instruction’s Dr. Tammy Howard explained that the state is seeing this drop thanks to the adoption of more rigorous standards that are focused on making students college- and career-ready. When North Carolina has adopted more rigorous standards in the past, test scores fell then, too. Read More