school teachers

Group with ties to Art Pope pushes anti-teacher propaganda

State Policy Network pens instruction manual for discrediting teacher strikes:

The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.

Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”

I have to give credit upfront to the NCAE and all of our teachers who have washed over the NC Capitol grounds with a sea of red for several years now. It would not surprise me if Civitas was a driving force behind this propaganda manual, because they've been trying to attack the Moral Mondays movement with whatever tools they can, up to and including publishing the names and photos of those who dared to challenge Republican leadership. And it also comes as no surprise that money (tax cuts for the wealthy) is at the core of this devious attack on teachers:

House GOP tax plan especially painful for teachers

When making something more "simple" also makes it more costly:

Any full-time instructor at a public or private K-12 school is currently eligible for the $250 deduction. It’s an “above-the-line” deduction, meaning teachers don’t have to itemize to claim it. It’s listed on the part of the tax form alongside deductions for moving expenses, student loan interest and Health Savings Accounts. The House GOP bill does away with those popular deductions as well.

Richardson worries about other ways the legislation may affect education. The Senate bill scraps all state and local tax deductions. Most schools in the United States get their funding from property taxes. Atlanta’s public schools already had to make budget cuts this year after a property tax freeze. School funding could become even more contentious, especially in high-tax cities, if the GOP tax bills are enacted.

In a perfect world, negotiations between the Senate and the House would get rid of the bad parts of each, lessening the sting for teachers and others. But we don't live there. A closer look at some of the things this particular teacher has had to purchase out-of-pocket provides a glimpse of a much deeper problem:

The flaws of pay-for-performance in teacher salaries

Coming soon to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system:

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a plan to provide up to $10.2 million over the next three years to six school systems to test their alternative models for paying teachers. The districts are planning to use different options, such as paying teachers more based on whether they take advanced leadership positions or have good student test results.

Lawmakers who ordered the state board to establish the pilot program are looking to see whether the district models can be applied statewide. “This is an opportunity for teachers to advance in their career while still working with students in the classroom,” said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact, a Chapel Hill-based education firm that is working with two of the districts in the pilot program.

As in any occupation, professional development should be rewarded. Advanced degrees, newly acquired skills, targeted certifications, these things represent efforts to improve one's capabilities and should not be overlooked or taken for granted. But this whole idea of imagining a subset of teachers who are a "cut above" the rest, and should be elevated to role models for the vast majority of their colleagues who are "substandard," is really nothing more than a backhand slap to the profession itself. And in an environment where nearly everybody can agree that testing as a tool for educating has gotten out of control, to throw extra money at teachers if their students score higher completely ignores all the new research that shows economic status is the main determining factor in student performance. A good analogy would be if you went to a grocery store parking lot and said, "These four rows of cars will race each other." And then be surprised when the Porsche wins. A few observations from Mark Jewell:

Is Teach For America promoting "separate but equal" schools?

Charlotte's problems with diversity and integration may have a new apologist:

While the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board talks about breaking up racial and economic isolation, Teach For America Charlotte is holding a forum on making “hypersegregated” schools successful.

On Dec. 15, two national speakers will discuss ways they’ve seen schools thrive without significant numbers of white or middle-class students. The free forum is part of its “New Reality Speaker Series,” focusing on poverty and academic success in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The first, on CMS history, was held in October.

Of course efforts have to be made to improve education in ways that don't rely on re-integration as a cornerstone. But that work needs to continue, as well. It not only benefits the students in their achievement, it also helps the community become less polarized around race. And as obvious as that may seem to those reading, there are many in the field of education who still fall for the arguments put forward by anti-integration elements of the 60's & 70's:

Teacher turnover in Guilford County just under 15%

That's one out of every six or seven teachers who are walking away:

Guilford County Schools’ teacher turnover rate, 14.95 percent, is the highest since 2007-08, the first year of the recession. The turnover rate that year, 15.7 percent, is the highest during nearly two decades.

When asked about the reasons why teachers are leaving the classroom, some educators also point to teacher pay and a negative political climate around public education...The average salary for a public school teacher in Virginia is about $15,000 more than in North Carolina. And that’s just with a bachelor’s degree.

This is quite possibly the single biggest threat to the future of our state, and what does the Republican-led General Assembly do? They throw a one-time "bonus" at teachers, knowing they will get a healthy chunk of that money back in taxes, while they (once again) cut income taxes for the wealthiest North Carolinians. Their priorities are clear, regardless of rhetoric and data-twisted graphs, and the smarter the teacher is, the more likely he/she will see through the lies and make the decision to leave. So we're not just losing a percentage, were losing the sharp edge, as well.

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