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?

Reflecting on the ECE Conference

Through working with our state and local affiliates we want to work to provide the support that educators need to survive the early years in the profession.

As I sit here at the airport in Houston waiting for my flight to take me back to Raleigh, I figured now was as good an opportunity as any to reflect on my experiences over the last few days at NEA’s Early Career Educator Training and Strategic Planning Session.

First of all, can we talk about POWER and ENERGY? Y’ALL! It was so powerful to be in a room full of people from ACROSS THE COUNTRY. The energy that educators spanning the country from Maine to Florida to Texas to Arizona to Oregon to Wisconsin was remarkable. NEA brought educators from across the entire width of the country together in Texas.

The focus was on Early Career Educators (ECEs), and right away my mindset was challenged and changed. Prior to this weekend, whenever I thought of ECEs, I automatically thought of those educators ages 21-30ish. NEA staff on site was intentional in reminding us that ECEs also may include those people who have entered into education as a second or third career and to not exclude those who we may automatically assumed were veterans. I also appreciated how NEA made sure to intentionally include ESPs into the conversation because they are vital to the success of our students, schools and communities.

An interesting thing was to see how different states were in different parts of the journey to develop strong systems to support ECEs. There were states like Ohio, with O.N.E, who have been working on developing this for multiple years now, which by the way I recommend checking out. On the other hand, there were states like us in North Carolina who are just now launching our ECE group within our state affiliate of NEA. It was incredibly powerful to see those more developed groups like ONE continuing to work on crafting their message and develop new supports for their educators.

The energy y’all was just amazing though. All of us that spent the weekend in Houston were there because we know that we need to make changes to better support educators newer to the profession and either we want to be the ones to do it, or someone else thinks we can be. The data shows that educators are increasingly leaving the profession for hobs with higher pay and that are perceived to have more respect. Through working with our state and local affiliates we want to work to provide the support that educators need to survive the early years in the profession while also fighting to get the resources that we need to be able to successfully do our job.

Everyone was fired up all weekend. We gained tools and strategies to take back to our states to help recruit, support, and retain ECEs. We formed connections with other ECEs from across the state who we can continue to learn from as we go to our separate states. Those connections will be incredibly powerful and I am so excited to see the actions that all of us take.

Our ECE group in North Carolina is called SYNCED, Supporting Your New Carolina Educators. I am incredibly excited to work with this group to help support ECEs across the state of North Carolina. Connect with us on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Spread the word to other ECEs across the state so they can get plugged in!

NC Teachers: We have work to do

North Carolina, if we want sustained improvement in public education then we need better organization and communication.

Supporters in Raleigh for the Respect for Public Ed Regional Meeting on Jan. 19, 2019

To say that the past year has been a whirlwind for public education in North Carolina would be an understatement. It started with a march on May 16th that shutdown schools for 75% of the state’s students and ended with the election later that year which broke the GOP super-majority in both the NC General Assembly and Senate. This ended the unchecked power of decidedly anti-public school legislators.

2018 seemed to be a year where teachers, and other supporters of public education, seemed to stand up and say, “ENOUGH.” Two weeks into 2019 had seen little movement in the country regarding public education. Was 2018 going to be the high water mark of the public education movement? Action in West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Arizona saw thousands of educators in red to purple states push for respect, higher pay, smaller class sizes, and more resources. That being said, educators across the country know that not only is more needed, but that the actions in 2018 were not enough.

January 14th, the teachers in Los Angeles went on strike. 50,000 people marched through the streets demanding action. That strike is on-going.

January 18th, hundreds of teachers in Oakland, CA took the day to protest in front of their district offices, in an action that was not sanctioned by their union but shows the growing unrest among educators there.

Now, being a teacher and resident of North Carolina, I have been invigorated by the movements happening on the West Coast. I also wish that there has been more movement to help public education in North Carolina.

With this thought in mind, I traveled the approximately 35 minutes from my home in central North Carolina to the headquarters of the North Carolina Association of Educators in Raleigh. Not only had I never met any of the people that I was going to be around, but I had no idea what I was going to get myself into.

The day was spent networking with educators and supporters from across the state and looking at what was needed to make continued and sustained changes for our state.

As an educator looking at LA and Oakland, it is very easy to say that I like that idea and we should do that here! As was articulated at the meeting on Saturday (and this makes sense), we are not ready for any type of action like the ones going on in California.

While the march on May 16, 2018 was successful in closing schools for 75% of the state’s students and bringing awareness to the plight of public education in the state, those closing were in generally liberal leaning areas, with Charlotte-Mecklenberg, Durham, and Wake Counties leading the way, teachers in these areas had a general sense of security in what they were doing.

Many did not. My county vote for President Trump by an overwhelming margin and in the 2018 election shifted the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education to the right, highlighted by the election of a man who is a frequenter of many far-right websites. My county did NOT shut down for May 16th. There was no communication from my local NCAE unit and I am not even sure how many educators from my county went to the march. My best guess? 15. That might even be optimistic.

Do I want my pay raised? Yes. But that aside, we need nurses, social workers and psychologists in EVERY school. More guidance counselors and to allow the ones we have to do their job without additional duties.

We need FUNDING for smaller class sizes. NOT just for our elementary schools but also our middle and high schools.

We need to do away with high stakes testing at all levels.

We need respect.

What I gained from the Respect for Public Education Regional Meeting in Raleigh was a renewed sense of hope, motivation and security. I hope that educators will attend the ones in Asheville, Greenville and Charlotte in the coming weeks.

North Carolina, if we want sustained improvement in public education then we need better organization and communication. Not sure where to start? Buy a red shirt that adheres to your school’s professional dress code and wear it every Wednesday. Get your school friends to do the same. Next, join NCAE and become involved at the local and state level. Not only are the people friendly, but they are all fighting for the same thing. To better public schools for all involved.

We have to start somewhere.

EDIT: From Angie Scioli in the comments, “People can go to the red4ednc.comwebsite to find dress code compliant red clothing. We don’t make any money off the sales; we just want people to be able to wear red4ed without fear.”