I apologize up front for the long e-mail, but I strongly believe this is important for everyone. I am writing you in concern of the recent budget cuts to our schools in North Carolina. I am not sure how closely you follow the news, but this past week the State of North Carolina passed a budget that is very concerning for our children in public schools.
The budget eliminated the following:
3,800 Teacher assistant positions-these were assistants typically in second and third grade, you may be thinking that we don’t have these in our schools in Wake County, many principals in our area use this money for other positions within our schools (intervention teachers, technology, etc). By eliminating these positions, many schools will no longer have funds available for these positions/resources that are needed at our individual schools.
Extra Pay for Master’s Degree-I believe we are the only state in the country that now does not pay more for a Master’s Degree, other states (New York, Connecticut) encourage teachers to obtain a Master’s degree to gain a full teaching license. Teachers that currently hold a Master’s degree are grandfathered and still will receive extra pay, but by April 1, 2014 the pay will be phased out so any incoming teachers will not be encouraged to obtain a Master’s degree. Even for teachers working on their Master’s degree now, they will not receive a bump in pay when completed.
No raise for the 5th year in a row-teachers will yet again teach another year with no raise. With inflation our teachers are making less than they did in 2008. Before the budget passed we were 46th in the nation for teacher pay, I believe with this new budget we are now are the lowest paying state in the country for teacher pay.
10 Million dollars this year for vouchers and 40 million next year-Vouchers will be available for selected children to attend private school. This is money completely taken away from public schools that we need for new schools to be built, especially in our growing area.
Teacher Tenure- in the past teachers earned tenure after four years of teaching in the state. Teachers will now be 1 to 4 year contract employees. Schools will be graded each year on a scale of A to F and teachers yearly evaluations are now directly tied to the performance of their class on test scores. To grades schools, 80% will be based on standardized test scores, 20% based on growth. No other variables will be considered in this grading. Tired of your child stressing about tests, unfortunately with this new system it only puts more pressure on teachers (pressure just to keep their job) to have students perform high each year on these standardized tests. I can’t even imagine how teachers feel that are currently working in rural or urban struggling schools.
Eliminating tenure and Master’s pay is a move towards merit pay or pay for performance. Currently there is no program even being discussed where teachers will receive any extra compensation for their teaching performance in the upcoming years.
You may wonder what does this all mean for you if you are not a teacher. With the current new budget cuts, think about who will be attracted to teach in North Carolina in the upcoming years. Anyone? Maybe just young new teachers out of college-that most likely will not stay in the profession long. Think about our children’s high school teachers, no longer holding a Master’s degree in Math, Science or English. If our state does not value this among teachers, I am worried we will see teachers that are not inspiring our children to continue their education. As you probably witnessed, teachers were extremely overworked and stressed last year due to various reasons (among them these looming budget cuts), unfortunately now that they are a reality the low morale and stress will only continue.
I have seen firsthand at my school, three excellent professional veteran teachers leave the classroom/teaching profession this year. Their reason-enough is enough. They no longer had it in them to continue to give only to be continually knocked down by our state. I am afraid this is only the tip of the iceberg with the amount of veteran teachers we will see leave the teaching profession in North Carolina.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my long e-mail. I feel as if this is not just a teacher issue anymore, but an issue for everyone with children in North Carolina. If you feel motivated I encourage you to write our representatives (you can also visit their websites to send comments) and express your disappointment in their lack of support for public education and for your child’s future education in the public schools of North Carolina. Also feel free to forward my e-mail if you would like to do so.
Teacher in NC