Talk about a Nov. 4 North Carolina teacher walkout is floating on social media, but will anything happen?
That's hard to tell. Five hundred people have clicked "coming" on the Facebook page for the walkout, created by Mike Ladidadi -- a false name, according to a Huffington Post article on the walkout posted on Ladidadi's page. An unsigned "NC Teacher Walkout" blog was recently added to the mix.
Online comments and conversations I've had with teachers reflect a tension between the desire to jolt lawmakers and the public and fear that staying home will jeopardize jobs and harm students.
The N.C. Association of Educators isn't endorsing the walkout, and is reminding members that striking or taking part in a "sick out" is risky business in a right-to-work state.
"NCAE understands that this walkout is the consequence of the General Assembly and Governor McCrory for failing to live up to their constitutional requirements to enact budgets and policies that provide for a sound, basic education for all students in North Carolinas public schools," the group's statement to members says. "NCAE is working within the legal and political systems to hold the politicians accountable for their actions this past year, including replacing them with elected leaders who will stand up for public education."
Judy Kidd, president of the Charlotte-based Classroom Teachers Association, isn't endorsing the walkout either.
But regardless of whether they're willing to take that kind of action, many educators say they're far from ready to forget about a 2013 legislative session that brought sweeping changes for public education, from the abolition of tenure and master's degree pay to the perpetuation of a pay scale that's gaining North Carolina a reputation as among the nation's worst places for teachers.
Kidd and Charles Smith, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, say the next battle may come when districts follow the state mandate to offer four-year contracts to 25 percent of teachers for 2014-15. Those contracts will offer a $500-a-year raise for those four years in exchange for teachers signing away all rights to tenure. Superintendent Heath Morrison recently told the school board he's trying to figure out how the state expects the selection process to work.
Kidd and Smith say they both expect the tenure changes in this year's budget to be challenged in court. "I encourage anybody who's offered a four-year contract with a $500 raise to turn it down and let the courts rule," Kidd said.
Smith said the NCAE and CMAE haven't taken a position yet on the new contracts. But personally, he's with Kidd. Anyone who signs away tenure won't be eligible to get it back if the courts rule against the new system, he said.
"If you offer me (the four-year contract) I'm going to tell you 'no thanks,' " Smith said. "To paraphrase the old saying, you can have my tenure when you pry my cold, dead fingers from it."