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Snowy roadsCentral and Eastern North Carolina experienced what is, at least by our standards, a significant amount of snow Tuesday evening and on through Wednesday morning. It was at least enough to cancel public schools in impacted counties and districts, though it often doesn’t take even that much snow to cancel or delay school around here. Sometimes even the threat of snow is enough or, as we saw recently, brutally cold weather.

My friends and family from the north often laugh at the way we respond to winter weather, but it makes perfect sense: as a rare occurrence, we simply don’t have the equipment and resources to deal with such weather. Even if it’s just a light dusting, it’s much safer for everyone involved to shut down business as usual, including school, and let it pass. Better safe than sorry, the old saying goes.

Much safer, that is, for everyone except our teachers, not to mention other public school employees. Rather than allowing teachers a “snow day,” North Carolina puts “absences” due to inclement weather under the category of vacation leave. Read More

The News & Observer’s T. Keung Hui reports that Wake County school board members don’t sound very happy with the new teacher contract system, which would give the top 25 percent of teachers small raises in exchange for giving up tenure, beginning with the next school year.

Wake County school board members heard more details last night about how administrators are trying to comply with the General Assembly’s mandate to offer teachers $500 pay bumps over four years as long as they relinquish tenure, which affords teachers due process rights in the event they are demoted or dismissed.

School board members railed against the new contracts, saying the process will hurt school morale and damage efforts to recruit teachers.

“This is a bad way for rewarding teachers,” said school board member Jim Martin. “This is a bad way for just about everything.”

Will Wake County join Pitt and New Hanover schools in opting out of the teacher contract system? Those local school boards have said they’ll give the money back that’s earmarked for the pay bumps (not clear is if they’re actually authorized to do this) and have asked state lawmakers to figure out a more equitable and sustainable compensation plan for teachers.

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.