Cooper to Educators: “Good luck!”

Governor choose plan B for all

I should have seen this coming. Really, I should have. Especially back on July 1 when the decision was made to postpone setting out what districts should do to start off the school year.

The decision has been made and Plan B is how we will enter into the school year. My confidence in the Governor has absolutely cratered.

Here’s some of my initial reactions and questions from the Governor’s press conference.

  1. The plan mentions making sure that there is a place to isolate kids who present with symptoms. Does this mean we are already admitting that students will take dayquil in the morning and then be sent to school?
  2. We are being told to limit the sharing of classroom materials. Where is that money going to come from? Educators already spend hundreds of dollars on supplies.
  3. What happens when a student refuses to wear a mask because their parent is an anti-mask person?
  4. What happens when a student loses their mask halfway through the day?
  5. Will I be getting paid more for all these extra jobs I’m going to be expected to do? (We know the answer to this one)
  6. Why were we forced to watch a PR ad for the AAP missive that was roundly criticized by educators?
  7. Do we really think kids are going to learn good social skills while being yelled at to wear their mask and stay 6 feet apart by terrified teachers?
  8. Will I lose my job after 10 days knowing that the NCGA will not be addressing funding from the ADM?
  9. How dare you make us go to school after someone tests positive?

I’m sure that there are more questions, but that’s all I can think about now while my blood boils. I was floored. Absolutely floored. That we received all of these platitudes from the Governor of how amazing we are and how we will make this work. Oh? Really? How? Because as it seems right now, my students and I are about to be used as lab rats for the government.

But don’t worry, local districts and businesses can provide more PPE.

Before the NC GOP thinks that they’re off the hook here. There’s criticism for them too. They have tried to place us all back into school for the first 5 days. Every. single. person. They have refused to put a NURSE in the building every day. They have also contributed to this dangerous mess we find ourselves in.

To top all of this off – 20% of all cases in Wake County where I live and teach are for people ages 10-24 as of 7/14. Kids can be in high school until the are 21 years old.

I’m scared. I’m wondering – do I need to have a will drawn up? How do I do that?

The union for educators in North Carolina, NCAE, has called on all educators to sign the following petition. I encourage you all to do that. I also encourage you all to fight like hell for our safety.

Social Studies Scores Down

This after the NCGA eliminated a history course for high school

On Thursday, April 23rd, the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores were released for the 2018 Grade 8 Assessments in Civics, Geography, and U.S. History.

Shocker, they were down.

The National Council for the Social Studies breaks it down nicely in their email saying,

While educators know that assessments tell a small part of a very large story when it comes to education, it is disturbing to see such low scores on social studies assessments.

Many social studies teachers though will tell you that this is not a surprise. Over the past decade, or more, an increased emphasis has been put solely on STEM or english courses at the expense of social studies courses.

Just this past year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill that effectively eliminated a semester of American History instruction. This too came as no surprise to many social studies educators as the NCGOP, which controls both chambers, is dominated by right wing lawmakers who were undoubtedly not happy with the progress being done to decolonize our instruction.

US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, made a statement saying,

“We cannot continue to excuse this problem away. Instead, we need to fundamentally rethink education in America. It is the only way our nation’s students will be in a position to lead our nation and the world.”

Betsy DeVos

Her proposal for the 2021 fiscal year would cut federal education spending by $6 million.

The Executive Director of the National Council for the Social Studies made a strong statement,

It is far past time for legislators across the country to recognize the immense importance that social studies education has on the country.

What will it take to make them realize this?

Here are the links for US History, Civics, and Geography.

Welcome to the Danger Zone

NCGA Edition

THEY’REEEE BACKKKKKK.

Pro-Trump, Anti-Science. No, I’m not talking about the ReOpenNC protesters who were in Raleigh again this morning, but the Republican led North Carolina General Assembly gaveled into session today to address the beginning of North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before we go any further, I am going to do something I might regret later. I want to give kudos to House Republicans who when formulating their proposals seemed to sincerely incorporate input from House Democrats, appointing Democrats as co-chairs, and at one point even allowing a Democrat, Rep Ashton Clemmons, to lead one of the sessions.

Now, enter the Senate and Phil Berger. What a story of two different chambers.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit North Carolina, we have not heard much of anything from Senator Berger. While, the House was having transparent, live-streamed, committee meetings… the Senate was doing… well, no one really knows what the Senate was doing but, today they did release their proposed bill. And phew, is it a doozy.

To start off, both Stu Egan over at Caffeinate Rage and Justin Parmenter over at Notes From the Chalkboard have discussed the obscene suggestion that growth will be equal in this remote learning setting as it would if we were having in-person classes.

Now, I’m not going to recycle their words, but I highly recommend you click on the two links above to read what Stu and Justin said. It’s unreasonable for the Senate to suggest this.

I wish that was all, but there’s more garbage in the Senate proposal.

There’s also this piece,

Within the first two weeks of returning to in-person instruction from the traumatic experience that has been COVID-19, the NCGA wants our elementary school students to go through high-stakes testing. It is important to note that this specific piece is in the House bill as well.

After at least 5 months without in-person instruction, the NCGA wants our elementary school students to have to take tests.

Are any of us truly surprised?

Schools Must Close

New low in disrespect towards educators.

From the March 13, 2020 WRAL 6pm newscast, “Every person will be affected by this different.”

We do not truly know how many people in the state have coronavirus. Testing is limited with Mecklenburg County, NC (home of Charlotte) for example having only 3 tests available a time. Despite this, the only public schools planning to close for Monday are Durham Public Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, and Orange County Schools.

Wake County has the vast majority of the cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, and yet Wake County Public Schools are still planning to hold classes on Monday as of right now.

The most common response has to do with the amount of students who rely on school for breakfast and lunch. That kids are much less susceptible to the virus then adults. Fair. This is all true and teachers have been talking about how schools have plugged holes in society for decades now.

When is enough? We ask, almost demand, educators to sacrifice so much for our students. For the most part, we do it, knowing that no one else will. We already ask too much of the adults in our schools. Risking their health to this extent (potentially even their lives) is too much.

The advice has been given that if teachers are at-risk with health conditions that make them more susceptible they should get a doctor’s note and put in for a substitute. Who is going to pick up that absence? As it is, our schools are struggling to get substitutes for absences. Barely a day goes by that teachers are not force to cover for colleagues that are absent, and that is without a worldwide pandemic.

Major league sports have been cancelled. DPAC has cancelled their shows (belatedly).

From the USA Today,
“Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia, Louisiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington and Alabama have ordered all schools closed. The governor of Kentucky has recommended closing all schools in that state. Major metropolitan districts in Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas have also shuttered.”

Schools in New Jersey are also starting to shut down, seemingly by the hour. Churches are shutting down. Even Patagonia is closing.

Despite a federal, state and many local state of emergencies.. North Carolina? Nah.

Districts in North Carolina (including my own district – WCPSS) must close down. We must flatten the curve. We must be proactive, not reactive. Before it’s too late.

NO RAISE

Bill put forth in the NCGA is another slap in the face to North Carolina educators

Another day, another screw you by the legislature in Raleigh. The always brilliant NCGA has decided in their infinite wisdom to give public school workers in North Carolina a raise. Not one penny.

Many of you probably know what this means, but let me break it down for you just in case.
– This means that the starting salary will be staying at $35,000.
– This means that veteran educators still do not even get a step raise.
– This means the pay scale still tops out at $52,000.
– This means still no advanced pay for an advanced degree
– This means our ESPs still will not earn $15 per hour like other state employees.
– This means the statewide bus driver shortage will continue.

I’m angry. You should be as well.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

One Month Before School Starts: 7,228 Job Openings

And I bet it is even higher.

Corrected as data from Beaufort County, SOUTH Carolina was used instead of Beaufort County, NORTH Carolina. My apologies.

Need to tip my hat to the folks over at SCforEd for this idea. They are looking at the openings across South Carolina in public education each week leading up to when school starts. I am not sure that I’ll be doing updates like they are, but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless.

As of July 23rd, which is approximately one month before school starts for most traditional calendar schools there are 7,228 openings. The list is below. I’m including ALL open positions, because as we know it takes all those positions to properly support our students. This includes coaches, substitutes, transportation, administration and central office people as long as they are listed through the same platform as teachers.

On another note, I’d even suggest that the number is even HIGHER than what I was able to find, many districts will post the same position name for multiple openings.

Congratulations to Clay County, y’all have the least with only 1 opening.

I have five ideas on how to help fill some of those positions:

  1. Enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national standards
  2. A $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, 5% raise for all ESPs (non-certified staff), teachers, admin, and a 5% cost of living adjustment for retirees
  3. Expanding Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families
  4. Reinstating state retiree health benefits eliminated by the General Assembly in 2017
  5. Restoring advanced degree compensation stripped by the General Assembly in 2013
District NameOpenings – 7/23
Alamance-Burlington184
Alexander County9
Alleghany County 5
Anson County8
Ashe County8
Asheboro City28
Asheville City89
Avery County5
Beaufort County48
Bertie County15
Bladen County26
Brunswick County66
Buncombe County89
Burke County25
Cabarrus County185
Caldwell County Schools21
Camden County Schools4
Carteret County Public Schools25
Caswell County Schools27
Catawba County Schools77
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools127
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools295
Chatham County Schools77
Cherokee County School District5
Clay County Schools1
Cleveland County Schools19
Clinton City Schools12
Columbus County Schools19
Craven County Schools127
Cumberland County Schools313
Currituck County Schools43
Dare County Schools21
Davidson County Schools128
Davie County Schools31
Duplin County Schools22
Durham Public Schools242
Edenton-Chowan Schools14
Edgecombe County Public Schools27
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools75
Elkin City Schools4
Franklin County Schools53
Gaston County Schools207
Gates County Schools2
Graham County Schools3
Granville County Schools62
Greene County Schools9
Guilford County Schools450
Halifax County Schools26
Harnett County Schools70
Haywood County Schools30
Henderson County Public Schools85
Hertford County Public Schools37
Hickory City Schools12
Hoke County Schools73
Hyde County Schools15
Iredell-Statesville Schools81
Jackson County Schools36
Johnston County Schools296
Jones County Schools7
Kannapolis City Schools52
Lee County Schools85
Lenoir County Schools53
Lexington City Schools35
Lincoln County Schools72
Macon County Schools7
Madison County Schools13
Martin County Schools16
McDowell County Schools26
Mitchell County Schools13
Montgomery County Schools21
Moore County Schools70
Mooresville Graded School District45
Mount Airy City Schools4
Nash-Rocky Mount Schools66
New Hanover County Schools92
Newton-Conover City Schools22
Northampton County Schools14
Onslow County Schools190
Orange County Schools75
Pamlico County Schools7
Pender County Schools110
Perquimans County Schools12
Person County Schools30
Pitt County Schools105
Polk County Schools17
Randolph County Schools110
Richmond County Schools32
Roanoke Rapids Graded School District11
Robeson County Schools0Says 110 but big budget issues here
Rockingham County Schools129
Rowan-Salisbury School System137
Rutherford County Schools43
Sampson County Schools12
Scotland County Schools31
Stanly County Schools57
Stokes County Schools24
Surry County Schools30
Swain County Schools15
Thomasville City Schools7
Transylvania County Schools27
Tyrrell County Schools15
Union County Public Schools80
Vance County Schools27
Wake County Public School System536
Warren County Schools18
Washington County Schools10
Watauga County Schools24
Wayne County Public Schools117
Weldon City Schools17
Whiteville City Schools3
Wilkes County Schools38
Wilson County Schools96
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools210
Yadkin County Schools6
Yancey County Schools14

New Twist in IStation Controversy, Gun Amendment Not Offered

Amendment Allows Local Control for Reading Assessment

Update: SB-438 as amended would force districts to use local funds if they want to choose a different reading tool, other than IStation.

One of the wonderful things about moving to live in Wake County is being only about 15 minutes from the NC Legislature. As a politics nerd, being so close to where the decisions happen is going to be quiet enjoyable.

The call went out today from the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action to go to the meeting of the NC House of Representatives and wear red. This was to make sure legislators knew that gun control advocates were watching as it was expected the Representative Larry “Give Teachers Guns” Pittman (R-Cabarrus, Rowan) would offer an amendment to a School Safety Bill to allow teachers to carry guns. This is despite the fact that surveys have shown approximately 88% of teachers do not want to carry a gun themself, of have their colleagues carry guns.

What I did not expect to witness was Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange) offer an amendment to SB-438. This amendment allows for local school districts to choose a reading assessment tool of their choice, and still use the state funding that they would normally receive.

While saying that this does not have much to do with the widespread complaints of DPI’s choice of IStation for our youngest students, it seemed as though the amendment would allow for local districts to keep mClass if they wanted.

After some back and forth with Rep. Horn (R-Union), the amendment passed with all House Democrats voting in favor, along with some Republicans.

This is something to follow as the bill goes back to the Senate. It will be interesting if the Senate allows the amendment to stay in the bill or not.

The actual reason many of us were there was in regards to SB-5 on School Safety. Before the session started, many House Democrats waved to those of us sitting with the Moms Demand Action group as we were all in red. After, the Speaker recognized the group and the chamber applauded. Talk about surprised.

In between though, Rep. Pittman’s amendment was not discussed or voted on by the House. Checking twitter told us that it had been pulled from the calendar, meaning it was not going to be voted on at all.

Was it calls from constituents that kept the amendment from being offered? Was it those of us wearing red in the gallery? I do not know, but I cannot help but feel the actions of people throughout the day, and our presence that evening made a difference.

Time will tell as the bill itself is still on the calendar meaning there is still the opportunity for Pittman’s amendment to get added tomorrow when the House comes back into session at 1pm.