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The N.C. Association of Educators issued a list of the top 10 things every educator should know about the $20.6 billion state budget, passed last week by our legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. The list, the group says, shows how little value is placed on education.
We take issue with some of the items the group highlights, such as cutting pay to teachers with advanced degrees. It is reasonable to expect a higher rate of pay for taking the initiative to pursue and complete higher education, in any field.
We are not saying someone who holds a master’s degree will be a better teacher than someone who holds a bachelor’s degree. We do, however, hear of teachers with advanced degrees being expected, as part of their jobs, to share their expertise as sort of a built-in training system for teachers without advanced degrees. Why the state would discourage educators from pursuing higher education is beyond us.
A common complaint from all sides is that teachers today are teaching students to pass standardized tests, rather than imparting practical knowledge, and that some teachers are ineffective. It appears legislators tried to address this by budgeting $10.2 million for merit-based teacher pay.
Sen. Bill Rabon of Southport on Monday, July 29 touted the budget’s “major education reforms to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers and give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their children’s education.
“We increased accountability in the classroom by employing teachers through contracts that are renewed based on job performance. And we continued our commitment to implementing a pay for excellence system by including $10.2 million to fund annual pay raises for the most effective teachers,” he wrote, but did not elaborate.
Rep. Frank Iler of Oak Island, who also voted for the budget, did not address how teacher merit will be measured, either, but noted the budget reflects a slight increase in education spending “in line with student enrollment growth and inflation.”
The NCAE says merit will be measured 80 percent based on test scores and 20 percent based on growth. If that is the case, our legislature has just exacerbated one of the biggest problems we have with our education system.
The budget, according to the NCAE, also eliminates more than 9,300 teachers, teacher assistants and support personnel.
It seems our legislators have taken steps to drive away more teachers, particularly our best and brightest, and students will suffer for it.