Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Burger King vs. teaching: One man's choice

I've seen a lot of back-and-forth about the education changes in this year's state budget. But an email from Justin Ashley, a fourth-grade teacher at McAlpine Elementary, to House Speaker Thom Tillis, stands out.

Ashley
I am impressed that Ashley signed his name and told his personal story with power.  I admire the fact that Ashley approached Tillis,  a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parent,  as a respectful neighbor,  rather than treating him like some distant enemy.  He made his point so well that I am reprinting his letter in its entirety,  with Ashley's permission:

Mr. Tillis,

I wanted to first thank you for your service to our state.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be to make so many decisions that impact so many people.

I'm sure that being a politician can be a lot like playing the part of Batman:  people are always questioning whether you are a hero or a villain when all you really want is to protect Gotham City.  I appreciate the sacrifices you have made for the Tar Heel state.

Secondly, I would like to tell you my story:
Choosing a career path is frightening, especially when you're 17.  I weighed my options between Burger King manager and the armed forces.  My options were few and far between,  as I was residing in a low-income,  single parent home at the time.

My career perspective widened when my school counselor informed me of a possible scholarship opportunity.  We decided to give it a shot.  I wrote an essay,  filled out some paperwork,  and participated in a scholarship interview at UNC Charlotte.

A few weeks later,  I ripped the  letter open from my mailbox:

"Congratulations.  You have been awarded a full scholarship to a North Carolina University."

I will never forget reading those words with water-filled eyes.  For the first time in my life,  I felt fully empowered to overcome mediocrity.

I opened that letter ten years ago.  In that defining moment,  I accepted the full scholarship as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2007.

Currently,  I teach 4th grade in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  I have been a father to boys and girls at school who don't have them at home . I have helped raise test scores and created a fun learning environment for kids.  I love my job.

In February, I was even fortunate enough to walk across a stage in Greensboro and accept the award for the North Carolina Social Studies Teacher of the Year.

And even though my salary would be higher as a Burger King manager,  I'm grateful for the door that was opened for me,  for the founders of the scholarship program,  for the General Assembly (years ago) that allocated funding for my scholarship,  and for the taxpayers who provided the investment in the first place.  I've been able to change lives because these people changed mine.  And I'm just one of the thousands of stories,  stories that represent better teaching and better learning because of of our great state's dedication to our public education system.

A few weeks ago,  our state legislators passed a budget that eradicated the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship.  They also terminated teacher tenure and additional pay for teachers with master degrees,  along with a host of other public education cutbacks that total approximately 500 million dollars.

With these sweeping changes,  I can't help but wonder:

How many state teacher of the years did our current General Assembly just eliminate from the classroom?

How many doors were just shut in the face of so many talented teacher candidates?

My heartfelt message to our current General Assembly and Governor:

As you create bills and budgets involving education,  please don't marinate on the massive numbers of educators and students.  Instead,  visualize your favorite teacher as a child, the one who spoke words of vision and hope into you.  The one who invested her time,  energy,  and love into your life so that you could become the leader you have grown to be.  Do you see her?  Now, use your resources to enable teachers just like her to do for others what she did for you. 

Great teaching is the golden ticket for our schools.  Teachers are the solution.  Help us help our kids.  Hold on to great teachers right now before it's too late.  Create opportunities and incentives that attract new teachers for the future.  You have the keys to the door.

And closed doors can quickly be reopened...

Sincerely,
Justin Ashley
2013 North Carolina Social Studies Teacher of the Year
2013 North Carolina History Teacher of the Year
2011 CMS East Zone Teacher of the Year

That last line is important:  Closed doors can be reopened.

There's a lot of anger and frustration about what happened in Raleigh this summer.  But the folks who cast those votes are people we elected from our own communities.  And now they're back.

In the coming weeks,  I hope to get the members of Mecklenburg's legislative delegation to share their thoughts about what their actions mean for education and to talk about what comes next.  Meanwhile,  remember that you can find contact information for members of the House and Senate at the General Assembly web site.

The public discussion about the future of education in North Carolina shouldn't fade with summer.  If you manage to open any doors,  let me know.

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

The war on teachers has been the biggest mistake of the century in N.C. politics. It is shocking, sad, and damaging. This state will feel the effects of it for many years to come. Someone MUST reverse things - and quickly!

Wiley Coyote said...

The money is there. It's always there.

It depends on priorities.

David Knoble said...

Very well said, and brought from the heart. This is no different than wanting to attract new businesses for additional employment in NC. New businesses provide employment, but they also pay tax - which is income to the state. I'm not evaluating whether the latest tax cut will help or hurt, but clearly increased business means increased revenue for the state.

Education, on the other hand, is an expense to the state. But that is where the difference ends. The teachers (the employees) are just as important as the new business employees. The children will be our new employees in 10 years and will be our new employers in 10 years. If we want continued new revenue, we need well educated children.

If we treat the education expenditures with the same golden gloves we treat new businesses, we won't have a problem...

Anonymous said...

Teachers need to be admired and appreciated in North Carolina. It's sad to see where the state is heading. This does not exist in states like California or New York. Teachers losing their jobs or being lay off is unheard of else where. North Carolina is a great place to live,but how can a teacher live like this?

Wiley Coyote said...

11:13

That is not the case. Thousands of teachers have been laid off in other states as well, Illinois being one of the largest. In 2010, CPS laid off 1,300 teachers with another 1,036 this year.

In the 12 months ending June of 2012, 130,000 teaching positions were cut in the US according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Anonymous said...

130,000 teaching jobs lost? I thought the educators hired Obama to fix this mess.

Pamela Grundy said...

Teacher morale has dropped dramatically around the country, and both Republicans and Democrats are to blame. Testing madness, shrinking resources and a stunning disregard for teachers' knowledge, experience and humanity are turning our schools into places where few people will want to work in the future. Thanks, Justin, for devoting your energies to North Carolina's children, and for articulating this dilemma so well.

Anonymous said...

http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/mediaroom/Pages/RumorHasIt.aspx

Report all CMS rumors here. There have not been any rumors spotted or recorded since June, 2013.

Anonymous said...

12:22
What would you expect when you report something to CMS ? A relevant answer? Misinformation? Drivel?
Half baked smoke and mirrors? Spin? Most importantly, a timely and truthful answer? Sad to see so much of the young talent here find the reality of politics will force them elsewhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

NC General Assembly: "Home of the Whopper".
Justine Ashley: "Doing it His Way".

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Ecellent letter Mr. Ashley. Let me attempt to paint the picture from the perspective of the state legislators. Understand too that some of their thinking I do not agree with. Essentially, reforming public education is much like turning a battleship but worse in that the captain of the ship still has to get approval from 14 other bodies each with their own agendas for "schools".

The attacks on teachers picked up their pace as many school systems won their freedom from federal oversight much like CMS did. Until then, the urban community was pretty happy with getting the black kids in the same schools with white kids. The white parents typically worked for the advantage of the whole school. I know because I led many of these efforts in several urban schools in CMS. Back to the main idea. As forced diversity endeed which actually had impeded natural integration in neighborhoods and coincidentially came the first state standardized testing (NC's ABC's), it became apparent the black kids had not acquired academic achievement sitting beside the white kids. Much the result of the social promotion policies of the liberals.

Thus the urban community and community organizers always looking for someone to blame for their plight, started working on politicans and public school adminstrators. Thus as Dr. Gorman so well exploited into his platform, he highlighted teachers as being the main issue. Though he led that charge here in Charlotte, it was not new across the nation. Though as testing and other pressures accelerated, folks like Bill Gates and other groups got into the picture for many reasons. Obviously the meida has a love affair with any rich person "reaching down" to the disadvantaged. Thus the PR was really good for their ego's. Second, the field became enriched for test development, computer equipment, etc. thus another reason to get their hands into the taxpayer funded trough.

And of course, the ever heavier hand of the federal government with their "strings", regulations, DOJ investigations, etc.

But lastly, the state of NC is in horrible financial conditions. Undoing the last 100 years of democrat shinanegians will take time liekethe heavy hand NC is under for accepting the Race to the top funds and the heavy debt for the extended unemployment checks. The state has lost, never to recover again 100,000's of middle class manufacturing jobs. The industries such as textiles, furnitire and tobacco will never return.

Almost as importantly, NC has thrown additional thousands of dollars per student at public education over the last 15 to 20 years with no decernable/proportional improvement in academic achievement. The legislators clearly know they have little success with directing spending no matter what they write as a law. The funny business down at the LEA is influenced too much by those with less than ethical values. Take for example the local push to audit FRL. Eliminating that fraud and its subsequent waste would begin to show a little improvement in the integrity of CMS.

What better time to create another path for public education out from under most federal and state regulations. What better time to create a path for public education for those families and students serious about education and give them an excape from those who use public education as a social services vehicle and a social experiment.

Thanks again for your candor and decorum. Too sad we do not see much decorum like yours in the urban community as evident in the public hearings a couple of years in closing underfilled schools.

Anonymous said...

Pay Teachers and bring back their benefits !


As stated, we are losing our best and brightest to the fast food service industry that provides better salary , benefits and a opportunity for advancement.

COMMON GOAL for a COMMON CORE

Anonymous said...

Heath gets his big check plus a bonus so the excuse their is no money is crap. Guy would be making double now if he took the Burger King job long ago . Teaching in other states is better so I suggest ft mill ! No future in NC for teachers sorry. Support vouchers for everyone.

Anonymous said...

He would make about $20,000 more with benefits is Northern Virginia.


MOrrison and Principals have been making bonus money these past 6 years.

Remember MARKET ADJUSTMENT to the slappys who work downtown but never teach or see the inside of a classroom ?

Anonymous said...

1:31--You have hit the nail squarely on the head as far as when and why the "war on teachers" began. It was a wonderful excuse to explain why some student groups lagged behind others. And it was a perfect way to hammer the demise of busing ("only the suburbs got the good teachers"). As has been pointed out before, some of the same activists who criticized teachers so strongly (and encouraged the blame the teacher movement) are now ardent teacher supporters. Oh the hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

I wish that the legislators would take a hard long look at the bloated central office staffs of the school systems!! I have always found it amazing that the further one gets away from the classroom , in public education, the more money you make.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was a finalist for the NC Teaching Fellows program. And although she did not make the final cut, she still chose to follow her passion and is in her final year of schooling at East Carolina University. As I have watched the NC legislature slash the education budget this summer, I have only one piece of advice for her upon graduation. Leave the state of NC for teaching opportunities in states that believe that educating future generations is a priority. The state of North Carolina has lost its way.

Andrew Thiel said...

Mr. Ashley makes $39,502.80 in salary in exchange for working ten months a year. He also gets great benefits.

So is it true that he could be a Burger King manager and make more money for only ten months' work?

Wiley Coyote said...

Remember how creepy the "waking up with the King" commercials were for Burger King?

Maybe we need to make a huge goatee paper mache head of Heath and put a commercial on CMS TV called "waking up with Heath", to advertise the new bell schedule.

Anonymous said...

What Mr. Ashley has going for him is his enthusiasm. He motivates kids and inspires them to want to learn and do better. Wish there were more enthusiastic CMS teachers our there.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, dude.

How do you know Mr. Ashley doesn't hold down a summer job with no benefits, sick days, or vacation days bumping his impressive salary from $39,502.80 to a whopping $42,102.36? Whoa...

My 11-year bank executive alimony is twice this - before Fidelity, Vangard, IRA, 401K, pension, and restoration plan benefits.

Anonymous said...

And Andrew,

I don't have to pay for my children's private school or college education expenses either while you're commenting on executive pay teacher salaries.

Anonymous said...

4:17, you have percisely noted one of the issues that legislators know they can not control no matter what law they pass. The school boards and the superntendents can get around anything like this.

Recent years of CMS per pupil spending reports have shown CMS getting $9k or so in the budget but the average spent at CMS elementary schools has been about $6600. So you see, almost 1/3 soaked up for central office and other non schoolhouse spending.

Anonymous said...

5:03, many, many CMS teachers are full of enthisiam. However it does not take many years of incompentent administrators changing grades or refusing to support you with discipline matters, back stabbing teacher teams or screaming illiterate baby mommas to truly discourage a good teacher.

Anonymous said...

And one last thing Andrew,

I'm certain anyone who can write a letter as well as Mr. Ashely did in addition to his impressive teaching credentials and awards would have no problem getting into a top MBA program granting him the opportunity to become a bank executive worth so much more.

We should all be thankful Mr. Ashley is still working as a public servant when his career options are unlimited.

Now, pay attention in class.

Anonymous said...

Businesses will back out in big numbers if we have a struggling education system.

Anonymous said...

Statistics do show that NC has lost more ground in education than any other state in the last 5 years.

Anonymous said...

In the early 80's, teachers worked for 5 years without a raise. This is NOTHING new. I love these teachers bitching about this problem now. Where were they 3 months ago? The debates are over. Nothing can be reversed.
Tillis ridiculed the Moral Monday protesters, and I feel sure that he gives LESS than a shit about NC teachers.

Pamela Grundy said...

6:19 For what it's worth, the CMS per-pupil spending numbers didn't include a number of expenses at the schoolhouse level, including maintenance, books and transportation. They used the ledger numbers, which didn't include centrally handled things.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Mr. Ashley will most likely become a principal or other CMS administrator soon enough.

Anonymous said...

And Andrew, he works 10 months a year, but most teachers, including myself, divide that salary over the course of 12 months. Wow! We're rich! I can quit my 2 extra jobs. I make more than enough to cover my mortgage, utilities, groceries, and clothes. I don't need to save for anything. Who cares if I can afford to buy gifts for Christmas or birthdays, or take a vacation, or save any money at all. I can live off $40,000 a year. Jeez, after taxes, that's only about $1900 a month. Wow! He'll be a millionaire soon.

Anonymous said...

You should know since you are a former principal. Sucks to be fired.

Anonymous said...

Andrew was fired from CMS for assaulting a student. He was a middle school principal. He obviously needs to move on from worrying about CMS and focus on the housing market.

Anonymous said...

Don't waste your breath on Andrew. He's an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah, blah...where's your solution to this problem?

Anonymous said...

I don't know of any teacher who just works 10 months. Maybe you did? I work in the summer, I have conferences, planning with new teacher( tomorrow in fact), create a yearbook (using my own supplies), helping with new student orientation, teaching and learning conference, I could go on, but you get the point. My husband has to carry our 3 daughters on his insurance because mine is too expensive. If he left me I would be on welfare with 2 daughters in college and a 7th grader. I am a 5th generation NC teacher with 6 family members teaching and serving as guidance counselor. We struggle because of ignorance like yours. If you have nothing intelligent to add, sit down!

JohnBennett said...

That Burger King Manager . . . . make fun of him all you like teachers, but his "classroom" size is over 100 not 15 that teachers seem to have trouble handling . . .. and many of those "classrooms" runs 24/7 not 180 days a year for 6 hours a day, and he/she gets paid on RESULTS, not for taking some classes. And guess what - Burger King doesn't have tenure, manager messes up, he/she is GONE in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Okay, that's all well and good as an idea, but you didn't cover how cutting salary and benefits to people who, in this state, are already underpaid, gets you that "other path". All you're doing is cutting what you see as "liberal spending" and using that money to pay "businesses" as if that's the magic formula for success. It is -- for a very, very small number of people. And usually such action leads to preferential treatment -- where the winners and losers of the funding are pre-decided and tied to the legislators themselves.

Enough of the national argument. Enough of the "liberal" and "conservative" nonsense. Both are cut from the exact same cloth. You argue that the democrats had shenanigans for over 100 years, yet North Carolina was looked at as a bastion of educational success (look at the universities here!), a bastion of tolerance and moderation in the south. We elect an all-GOP legislature and governor and all they've done is run roughshod over the state. If you don't think that gives businesses pause -- it does. Because while the businesses may want to eat at the trough of government (much like you accuse people of wanting to do under democrat leadership) they need to lure people here to staff themselves. And people aren't going to want to come when the choice is terrible public schools or expensive (and soon to be overcrowded) private schools.

It's called balance and moderation. That's what NC used to have. And this ISN'T a national issue. This is a state issue.

Anonymous said...

The above was a response to the comment starting with "Ecellent letter Mr. Ashley. Let me attempt to paint the picture from the perspective of the state legislators." posted August 7 at 1:31pm.

Anonymous said...

Simple question to our Gov. and our General Assembly: "How do you plan to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers?"

Nothing but crickets.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in NC, and current Teacher of the Year for my school, I, too am disappointed, but we must look back a few years and study the Race to the Top funding our Democratic governor and legislators accepted along with the strings attached. Please look at this in detail and many decisions our current legislators have made will make more sense. I do applaud Justin and the professional manner in which he contacted Speaker Tillis. I have done the same and have been pleased with the Speaker's response.

Anonymous said...

The Republican Trolls have arrived. Get out while you can!

Tubbs said...

a lot of anonymous comments. Too bad they don't have the backbone of this teacher and sign their name.

Anonymous said...

I just can't understand why all these cuts take place with the teachers and yet administrators let their school maintenance employees continue with their typical wastefulness.Seems to me as an outside tax payer looking in, cuts are being made in the wrong departments. Seriously , these maintenance people need some accountability. And do we really need to use tax money for a paid full time courier instead of a teacher? Come on guys!

Anonymous said...

President Obama doesn't handle the NC Budget - the Republican Party owned by Art Pope owns all three branches right now.

Anonymous said...

I guess you just missed the latest data that was released. NC had the highest high school graduation rate in recorded history. I guess we can look in the future for that to decline. It would be nice if the legislature would actually include people that are classroom teachers on the decision making and quit talking to anyone that circles outside.

Just Living in the Real World said...

Fifty six percent of the budget in NC goes to education. If money makes education better, how much do we need to spend? Washington DC is an excellent example of how well that plays out. Another point I note is that there are many who have decried a salary of $40,000 per year with added benefits. Access to is a huge benefit. Ask someone who runs a small business about that. Salaries everywhere are down, not just stagnant. And have you priced BCBS at an individual price? Does anyone else notice that education spending goes up, but teachers get no increase? Have you checked the cost of the administration class lately? Tenure is one of the worst ideas. Where else can someone do a poor job and be guaranteed they keep their job? Why should a teacher be paid more for an advanced degree to do a job that does not require that? It seems that there are many in the field who were written a check by a long line of liberals on an empty account. (And yes. I am an educator in a private school.)

Cynthia Taylor said...

This is very true. I have met with legislators for months and promised were made and none of them have come to frution. I have emailed legislators and they have not replied in over a month. My story is different yet very similar. About the same time I was laid off from work and at a literal fork in the road. I could transfer to Atlanta with my company and continue as a Customer Service Representative or go back to college. I prayed and the Holy Spirit spoke to me this is your time to follow the path that was preordained for you....to be a second mother to the youth, to be a teacher...I was a single parent of three daughters who had just lost their father to a disease that had left him disabled for over a year. I had always known that teaching was my calling but taking care of your children is a priority that dreams are set aside for, sometimes. It seemed that my Father in Heaven had provided a way for me to follow my predestination and my dreams, it was a very difficult path and the next 3 years were even more difficult. I probably left my children home alone more than I should have but by that time they were 15-8. I had some wonderful people that did help out babysitting these pre-teens so they weren't alone while I was taking 12 credits in a month summer mester. I graduated from UNCC with a major in history and secondary education. I had over $30,000 in student loans and began in 2006 when teachers had been given the largest increase in salary in years. I thought wow, they really appreciate teachers in NC. The first two years we received an extra stipend of over $1000 for student progress and success and then it was all gone, like a dream that I had awoken from in the middle of night the Governor took a 1% budget cut from my February check, the next year we received increases in health premiums, and a freeze on steps when I finally had a step to climb. I have been earning less every year since. I have had to work part-time jobs in the summer and during the school year. I have worked the mall, tutored, office assistant, and delivering newspapers. Many people think I am a seasoned teacher when they meet me but I am only a 7 year veteran. My youngest will be a senior in high school and I have no idea how I will help her pay for college, but I will even if I have to leave my dream to help her fulfill her dreams. That is what a mom does for her children. But I have a lot of love for a lot of other children, I have brought them into my home and given them a place and I hope that our legislators will come to their senses but my faith is dwindling in these elected few. I wish they would lean back to our founders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Please contact your NC Legislators. This budget must be fixed before it sends us back to the DARK AGES, where only the rich were educated, only the few could read and write. Cynthia Taylor

Diddy said...

Mr. Thiel, you are an infant! Clearly Mr. Ashley is a dedicated professional who cares for the education and wellbeing of each of his students. A man who is clearly intelligent and successful in his craft, who I'm sure possesses the capabilities to succeed in any profession. Yet he chose to educate children because he sees how important it is to invest in our youth for the prosperity of our communities and to provide a greater quality of life for future generations. We should be greatful to have such caring, enthusiastic, intelligent teachers in our schools who dedicate their lives to giving children a chance to escape simple-minded thinking like yours.

Why would we inhibit teachers by cutting funding to education, under paying, and under appreciating them? We should be clamoring for more funding from the state, better wages to attract young talent, which is inevitably on the decline, and more resources for the classroom.

The vast effect these teachers have on society should be reason enough, but if it's not, think about your kids. Who do you want teaching them? Someone who is just strolling through the motions, collecting a paycheck as you implied teachers do for 10 months a year?

I'd be willing to bet that most teachers, and certainly Mr. Ashley, work well beyond 40 hours per week. Take that into consideration along with the fact that their budgets have been cut so they often find themselves funding their own classroom resources, and you have a recipe for a drastically different income than you have suggested...which by the way would not have been posted online by someone who possesses even a resemblance of class.

Does this world need more Burger King managers?

Anonymous said...

Tenure has been eliminated and we are scared to complain with our names attached to anything for fear of jobs being taken. Do you openly complain about your job while your boss is listening? I am trained to teach history and can't be a nurse or a CPA. I have a masters degree and college debt with my children. At age 45, it is ludicrous that I have to go back to school yet again in order to speak my mind and have a backup plan in case I get fired!

Anonymous said...

I believe the legislature has finally hit a nerve....not only of teachers and administrators, but parents and students.
I truly believe that the decisions made in Raliegh will finally mobilize voters to say "enough".....BUT.....we need candidates with character and purpose to run against these incumbents. This must become a crusade.....and it cannot end with the next election cycle.

1:31 said...

8:13, of 1:31 comment, go back and read the part about the economic condition of this state. Well actually, read it all again. You jumped to many accussations without caring to understand. The legislature did increase the budget for public education. As I pointed out, I am not a fan of what they have done. I am simply trying to paint the picture from their perspective. Yes they have moved some of the cost of the benefits onto the teachers. Most all of us in private industry have been doing this all along. And still many in private industry that lost their jobs have not been able to find comparable jobs or pay since.

I'd like to pay teachers $10k more a year starting out hoping to get the top notch students out of colleges and increase the whole profession by that. But there are too many teachers that are not worth that. Teachers have done a poor job policing their profession. Teacher pay has increased a good bit over the years before this economic downturn. Are they supposed to be invulnerable too that? However, student performance has not shown comparable improvement.

Sad to say but I think most of the teachers in CMS are going to see blatant pay discrimination very shortly. White female teachers, who make up a huge portion of the workforce will be pushed back to find more black and hispanic teachers. You see, only the governement can legally discriminate and the current Washington mindset has the white race in its target and will agressively pursue it by any means. As a former school board member said, they wished all wither students would leave CMS becuase they knew CMS would still get the tax money. Maybe Detroit has taught them a lesson.

Anonymous said...

Due to the fact that Liberals broke the bank in NC the last 4 or 5 years ago took money away from education. The Republicans have a history of providing good education for the kids in NC but due to the fact that the Democrats broke the state so badly when they were in power there is no extra money for some things. Look at the economy that this President has created for this Country and you will know what former Governors have done here. I was a teacher and beginning teachers these days make more than I made when I retired. I believe teachers need a raise but I got very few and then it didn't pay the taxes it created so wait until times are better and you will get a raise. Live within your means and you will do OK. Be patient, it will come.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

There are many factual errors in your letter.

First, North Carolina has not spent more money for students. The amount spent per student has fallen dramatically over the past five years.

Secondly, students have been successful on state tests. Once students reach a high enough level of success, the state makes the test more difficult. D or example, the reading tests between 2002 and last year have become increasingly more difficult.

Thirdly, black students still are not achieving at the same level as white students, until you examine the socioeconomic status of the students. Then the differences disappear. This is because student achievements are based on family wealth. One only has to look at scores for the SAT to see the disparities.

One of the biggest problems in this debate is that the teachers are not being asked what could be done to improve public education.

Anonymous said...

@ Mr. Ashley - thank you for a well written letter that many need to read. You are a credit to the teaching profession.

@ Andrew T. - teachers get 10 months of salary period! We do not get paid vacations, we do get 10 holidays ( Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, etc.). Yes, we do get benefits, but we pay for them as we'll.

@ John B. - 15 students in a classroom? When was the last time you were in a classroom? I have taught for 15 years in CMS and my class sizes have ranged from 27 to 31! If you are going to comment, please be current with your information.

Regarding loss of tenure - the joke is on the people that think this will make a difference. The bottom line is it will still take administrative documentation to get rid of a poor performing teaching. Typically that process is two years. Unless you have more principals with the backbone to follow through with this process you will not see much of a change.

As though the treatment of teachers was not insulting enough in this state, three years ago our Char-Meck board voted to add an additional hour to the school day. This was done in the vane of saving 4 million dollars in transportation costs. Teachers were not given a voice in this vote. AND we were not given a pay increase for the added time to our day. CMS is the only district in the state that works this longer school day. Yes, we were given a 'choice' a year ago to eliminate the extra time or receive a 2% raise (the first pay increase in over 4 years). While the vote was for the raise increase I ask you, was that really a choice? Teachers in this county and state are not treated with respect.

Anonymous said...

In the mid-eighties Jim Hunt and his legislature froze teacher salaries while at the same time increasing state college tuitions 16-18%. He is still known as an "education governor." I don't remember any marches on Raleigh or attacks on him.
Thank goodness our retirement is still intact and we have health insurance, even as retirees. And, though small, teachers got a 1%increase last term. Have some patience, state employees. Better days will come when the over-all economy improves.

Anonymous said...

I am worthless to the government of NC. I have a Master's Degree and I am a National Board Certified Teacher. My children are also teachers. I never thought that I would say this to my own children...find another job that respects and makes you feel worthy. Forget teaching! I love the children and teaching is an everyday adventure for me. I will continue my love because I do not have to support a family any longer. But my own children must have a second job to make ends meet as a teacher. We have closed the door for future teachers as they will find other careers that makes them feel appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Washington is attacking white people? How? Because we elected a black man twice? What seperates you from every other redneck racist, your "understanding" of what is happening? You are spouting exactly what the people controlling this state's downturn are wanting you to yell from the rooftops....exactly how they planned it. You are the one who needs some information sir.

david martin said...

who can write so diligently and not sign their name to it.i could not really believe either dem. or rep. would go this far.its not black or white issue.i wonder about some of these people and how they treat their own.attack our children and you attack their parents.don,t come back with excuses after the next election.do away with the legislature and not our schools.there is not another point you can give me to persuade me not tovote you out.David martin

Anonymous said...

Are there no overpaid teachers at CMS?

Anonymous said...

To the guy making the comment that Ashley has a salary of $39,000+ and only works 8 or 9 months a year: Well, anyone living with a teacher can tell you that not only do we work on our own most of the summer, we work EVERY weekend and usually some on any other vacation including winter break. Teachers put in more hours working than most professions. Live with a teacher and see!

Anonymous said...

Are the $70,000.+ per 10 months elementary phys ed teachers working like that?

Anonymous said...

3:54
No, there are no overpaid teachers in CMS.

Yes - like all public schools - there are a few teachers who shouldn't be paid at all but they are the exception to the rule and should be dealt with accordingly which doesn't include giving them 50% of their salary for failing to do their job (see; CMS' zero grade policy discussion). Good teachers don't like working with lazy and incompetent teachers which scientific research supports.

And I'm really not interested in getting into a debate over the value and worth between a kindergarten teacher, a music teacher, a foreign language teacher, a math teacher, or a social studies teacher. They all matter.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

5:06
Has it ever occurred to you that a team coach who may have worked for a school system for 25 plus years or so may have actually changed and impacted hundreds of lives in ways that you can't even begin to imagine?

Because I can. Because I had coaches, band teachers and other teachers in my life who did. I had teachers who impacted my life in profound ways that you have no right to comment on in terms of their value and worth.

Alicia

Diane Irish said...

This is not unique to North Carolina. I live in Wisconsin, where our Governor, immediately upon entering office, began his war on collective bargaining and teachers throughout the state. As the wife of a teacher who taught and coached in the Milwaukee Public School system for 33 years, I can tell first hand what an impact teachers make on the lives of their students. My husband has been retired from teaching for 13 years, and still former students (from as long ago as 1970) seek him out, ask his advice, invite him to their life events, get tattoos (!) in his honor. The value of a good teacher is priceless. And yet, as a nation, we CONTINUE to undervalue the very people who educate our children....at our peril!

Anonymous said...

Diane, remember this attack on teachers started as politians, the media, philanthropers, and race profiteers using each other when the urban culture failed its young people and started looking for smeone to blame for their plight. Because it is always someone's fault.

Anonymous said...

...someone else's fault.

miffykurara said...

California is horrible, too. If you are lucky enough to snag a job, don't depend on it being there the next school year.

DJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJ said...

I recently chose to resign from teaching in NC. I had no clue that these state decisions were headed this way! Whether by grand guidance or simply a good idea, I plan to open my own rural tutoring business. My original plan had been to join the virtual world for middle schoolers who did not quite fit the public classroom mold - but virtual public school in NC is not yet available! Yet nearly every other state has joined that bandwagon. WHY? Because teachers have, and will always get the raw end of the deal. No matter how good they teach, or how much their students scores improve - ultimately, there are too many issues in public schools that take away from real learning, and from teachers being able to stay in the classroom and accomplish what they were trained to. With all that said - the future is that MANY parents will enroll their children in virtual schools, many will need help. I will be there for them. I will miss the benefits, but it appears Obamacare will eventually take care of that as well. I hope other teachers see the light before the tunnel encases their love of teaching. I am glad I got out.

Anonymous said...

This was a great letter, however I know most likely members of the legislator did not read it or if they did it was thrown into a pile of others just like it. They will do what they wish because unlike teachers the have no "accountability" system in place to govern them. This will mostly likely be my last year of teaching unless I move out of NC.

Anonymous said...

@Andrew T. - you are absolutely right! The people blasting you have no idea what it's like in the private sector. Entitlement mentality run off the rails. I'm sick of it. What I would have done for $30K right out of college!

Anonymous said...

I'm all for paying good teachers more. Much more.

But it's wrong to take a cheap shot at "Burger King managers."
Those guys/ladies often work as hard or harder than teachers, and their work is just as important.

Most restaurant managers have daily teaching experiences with young, often unmotivated staffers, not unlike a school classroom. That teaching is often as important and relevant as the teacher's Social Studies lessons. Most of us learn far, far more outside the classroom than inside.

And no, restaurant managers don't make much more than this teacher, who before long will be earning $50K and a defined benefit pension, and then $80-100K when he becomes an administrator. Plus several weeks each summer to decompress.

Mr. Teacher, please learn that Mr. Burger King's work is just as valuable and important as your daily toil.

Anonymous said...

I would think that someone with a teaching degree would know that the plural of "teacher of the year" is "teachers of the year." This is a great piece, but that error detracts from it.

Patty said...

My son in law is a N.C. teacher working on his master degree and will reap no benefit for it. I am encouraging him and my daughter to relocate to another state where teachers are more appreciated and respected. NC has failed its children and teachers.

Anonymous said...

10:06 PM
I made $31,000 a year right out of college in 1987 as a dance major. Yes, a dance major. So, perhaps there is something to be said for choosing a liberal arts major that typically doesn't serve the private sector but the non-profit and educational sectors instead while our public schools are enamored with everything related to STEM in an effort to maintain a healthy economy while remaining globally competitive.

1:13 PM
Trust me, I respect the Burger King manager as much as I do the P.E. teacher and the dance teacher because God doesn't place a higher or lesser value on people based on earthy job titles.

Alicia


Anonymous said...

Not every teacher is great. Removing tenure is a first step to providing flexibility to pay great teachers more. Making it easier and less expensive to remove under-performing teachers would be a second step. Both steps would free up money to attract and reward high-performing teachers.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ashley should have asked one of the Language Arts "teacher of the years" to proofread his letter.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but unless you are a university professor or such, you do not need a Masters Degree.

And guess what. I work in the private sector and haven't received a raise in the past 5 years because of the economy, But when the freeze is lifted for my company, I'll be getting a raise based on my performance. And tenure? Well, that's just ridiculous.

Want to make more money? Go be a manager at Burger King.

Anonymous said...

Of course someone who is NOT in education or married to someone that is an educator would HAVE to mention that we only work 10 months. Think again! Educators have trainings and other expectations that need to be met on Saturdays, Sundays, and yes even the two months that we "have off." You need to spend some time in a classroom!!!

Anonymous said...

Teachers are NOT the only profession feeling the sting of this economy. My husband and I are both professionals that have seen our pay and our benefits decrease for the past 5 years.

Our pay has decreased, our time-off has decreased, forget any kind of bonus, over-time, etc. We are expected to be able to do everything and anything that needs to be accomplished in our jobs, whether or not we were formally trained for it or not. Whatever it takes. We are ALWAYS working in the evenings and on the weekends, answering emails, doing research, talking with reps, completing evaluations, etc. This is what we must to in order to keep our jobs. And we do this without having any summer 'vacation' or holidays. We are lucky if we get Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day off. If we totaled the number of hours that we actually spend working our hourly rate would probably not be much higher than minimum wage.

We don't have anyone to complain to. We are expected to maintain continuing education and certification (all at our own expense) and are constantly having our productivity and quality measured. If we do not meet certain standards, we will be in the unemployment line. Period. This is the unfortunate state of the real working world at this point in time.

I do believe teachers should be paid a higher salary. However, I also believe there are many, many more professionals that deserve to be paid more as well. These professionals are just as vital and important as teachers.

Our government at all levels is so overly bloated and growing at an alarming rate. All at the same time the money pot (aka taxpayers) is shrinking. The bubble is going to burst very soon and it is not going to be pretty.

I'm sorry for the pay that teachers are receiving, but I'm also sorry for the pay that so many other Americans are receiving as well. We are all in a heap of trouble is something drastic does not change very soon.

Anonymous said...

The 10 month argument really gets old and makes me think people are not willing to educate themselves. First off, that figure that's quoted for his salary seems high in NC for a teacher that has only been working for 6 years. Looking at the chart that I am assuming you got the number from, I see that you are pulling from teachers pay that have a Bachelor's, their NBPTS Certification and a Master's. It doesn't say that he has a master's and not that it matters, because in the future, according the new legislation, extra pay won't be awarded for a Master's degree. In addition, I find it laughable that you trust a chart that lists teacher's pay by year as if teachers in NC has gotten annual increases. I think after they got cut a bit several years ago, they did get a 1% raise last year, but have been mostly frozen for last 5 years, so that would make his pay (without a Master's) somewhere between $30,000 - $34,000 with no hope for a raise in the near future. Because again, NC teacher's salaries have been flat for 5 years. And even if they get a 1% raise again, it still won't cover the fact that they are now paying a premium for their health insurance.

Just for kicks, we'll use the high number, (although my bet is it's the smaller number) $34,000, which might be more than BK Manager. But if it is - barely. And last time I checked, BK Mangers don't need a college degree - let alone a Master's or the acumen to provide our future leaders knowledge with.

As for the 10 months and 'great' benefits. Yes, teachers get two months off in the summer. But the rest of the year, they are tied to that classroom. A good teacher will not take a day off of work the entire time, unless they are so sick they would be damaging their students. That family wedding they have to go to across the country? Sorry, I can't leave until 3 pm on Friday. The repair man wants to fix the fridge? Can you do at 4? Doctor's appts? Same thing. In addition, more and more responsibilies are tacked onto their job, that include before work, after work, on weekends, nights, etc. There is no flexibility. Plus where is grading/planning factored in? Phone calls to parents, emails? Have you met today's parents??? If you are teaching all day, then when do you do the rest of your job? Oh right, planning periods? Wait, those are now filled with additional duties. So teachers work many MORE hours than 40 a week during a regular school year. And more than compensates for the fact that they have 2 months off. Especially considering they make SO LITTLE MONEY.

And benefits? Again, laughable. Any college degree holding individual who goes into Corporate America, has benefits far greater than the teachers. Their insurance is terrible. CoPays are so high, they'd rather not go to the doctor. Sure, they have a pension - that MIGHT be paid when they retire. But at the rate they are cutting things from teachers, each are afraid of what might happen if their pension goes next.

I know as a advance degree holder working for a company... I am thankful NOT to be treated like a teacher. And if my company did - I'd just leave and go to another company. Thank goodness that's not the attitude of a teacher. Where would our students be if that was the case?

highlandangel said...

Let's talk about that "Burger King" Manager position, really...Actually, I'll start with the Bojangles position I saw advertised in Monroe...starting salary $45K. STARTING salary $45K. More than law enforcement, more than teachers, only a high school diploma required. Now, let's talk about this...avg salary of a restaurant manager in Charlotte - $84K. $84,000. Now, I realize that includes Morton's, etc., but it also includes Burger King. It is clear that the priorities of this State are out-of-wack. Oh, and btw, the manager's position at Bojangles comes with benefits.