Voters must elect officials who are education friendly

First Posted: 11/21/2013

To the Editor,

Our future physicians, scientists, ministers, lawyers, musicians, writers, technical engineers and leaders are today students in our North Carolina classrooms. Our future success is being threatened by a failing system today.

From 1941 to 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly in multiple bipartisan actions passed legislation protecting and promoting excellence in our state’s education system. Provisions establishing master’s pay, career status, North Carolina Teaching Fellows and the Excellent Schools act have in the 2013 North Carolina General Assembly been dismantled.

Teachers having received or in process of receiving career employment status are being placed on year-to-year contracts with annual reviews. Any review resulting in “below proficient” status becomes grounds for “immediate dismissal”

Beginning with 2014, principals, superintendents and local school boards will select the top 25 percent among county teachers and award them four-year contracts with $500 raises attached each year of the 4 years. The total add on to teacher salary over four years of the contract “promises” to be $5,000.

There is no guarantee of add on during the four years. There is no provision that base salary will be increased by this $5,000 after the four-year period. There is, however, guarantee that upon signing this contract the teacher loses career status.

Funding for these raises has been substantially underestimated as it considered 95,000 classroom teachers in North Carolina while 115,000 teachers are eligible. Three different sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly will be charged with budgeting funding for what could become a $40 million Band-Aid for North Carolina’s educational cuts.

For 72 years North Carolina has been committed to being ranked top among our nation’s states for her education system. In less than 12 months and through unprecedented use of procedures cloaked in the North Carolina General Assembly budget process, our state is bottoming out to being ranked 48th among states in our national evaluation of education systems.

In order for North Carolina’s future to be a place of opportunity and capacity, her people must today elect a General Assembly that lives forward by not taking education backward.

Eric R. Locklear