Friday, August 2, 2013

N.C. tenure change: Questions remain

Next summer one in four N.C. public-school teachers will be asked to sign away their traditional tenure in exchange for a four-year contract that includes a $500-a-year raise.

But state education officials are still trying to figure out how the transition will work.  Among the questions:  How will superintendents identify the top 25 percent in their districts?

"It gets a bit confusing,  even if you're deep into this stuff,"  said N.C. Department of Public Instruction spokeswoman Vanessa Jeter.  She put me in touch with Tom Tomberlin,  a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrator who's now the state's human resources liaison with school districts.

Here's what Tomberlin knows so far:  Based on evaluations for the coming school year,  superintendents and boards of education will be required to designate their top 25 percent in 2014.  Those teachers will be offered a four-year contract and the $500 annual raise in exchange for giving up career status,  the current job protection.

Can they refuse?  Tomberlin says probably so,  since the legislation says it's a voluntary change.  But there wouldn't be much point,  he said,  since everyone's career status goes away in 2018,  when the four-year contract would end.

To be eligible for the top 25 percent,  a teacher must have been employed by the district for three consecutive years.  A quirk in the language of the budget bill  (the section on teacher contracts starts on page 97)  makes it unclear whether legislators expect value-added ratings based on student test scores to be used for determining the top 25 percent,  Tomberlin said.  The superintendent is responsible for identifying the top teachers,  but the school board can modify that list,  as long as teachers offered a four-year contract and raise have  "shown effectiveness as demonstrated by proficiency on the teacher evaluation instrument."

I wondered what happens in coming years:  Will additional teachers be eligible for the four-year contracts and bonuses based on evaluations in 2015 and beyond?  Tomberlin said that's not clear.  The state Board of Education and DPI will be working on details of this plan,  with guidance from legislators.

Meanwhile,  teachers who don't already have career status will be hired on one-year contracts.  In 2018,  all career status ends.  Teachers will be offered one-,  two- or four-year contracts.  Only those with at least three years'  experience and proficient job ratings will be eligible for more than one year.

Jonathan Sink,  the CMS legislative liaison,  adds that if the district doesn't want to renew a teacher's contract,  the teacher may petition the school board for a hearing "but the local board does not have to hear the matter."

"The decision to fire a teacher during the term of his or her contract must be for one of 15 'just cause'  reasons, which are identical to the 15 just cause bases that public school employees have always known,"  Sink adds.  Read Sink's recap of all education-related legislation here.

Update:  Gov. Pat McCrory's proposal to reward 1,000 top teachers with $10,000 stipends gives a new twist to the performance-pay discussion.  The state has more than 97,000 teachers,  so you're talking roughly 1 percent.  One CMS teacher on Facebook has already dubbed the plan "Hunger Games: NC Teacher Edition."


Unknown said...
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Pamela Grundy said...

Actually, the legislation doesn't seem to say that superintendents must designate the top 25 percent of teachers. By my reading, it just says 25 percent, and that those teachers must rate proficient on the state evaluation.

The whole thing is painfully convoluted. It might be attractive to teachers who are four years or less away from retirement. Why not take a four-year contract with a raise at that point? But it sure won't help our state attract the great young teachers we need.

Anonymous said...

Pay the Teachers and bring back their benefits !


Anonymous said...


$500 ?

What an insult for $50 per month. How about dental benefits for myself or my children.

They have NO IDEA how to implement this plan similar to OBAMACARE. Do any of our leaders have an common sense anymore?

AlphaMikeFoxtrot said...

My due process rights are worth more than a measly $500 despite only having had one raise in 5 years. They can take their money and stick it where the sun doth not shine.

Anonymous said...

OBAMA took away the raise with the elimination of the payroll tax cut.

Teacher you have lost tens of thousands of dollars in salary, benefits and inflation over these 5 years.

Make it work, move on, or STRIKE !

Otherwise shut up and sit down.

Anonymous said...

The article link below sums it up:

North Carolina Ends Teacher Tenure, Teachers Will Now Have to Be Good at Their Jobs to Keep Them

When you step away from the teachers and community organizers who dominate this blog, most Americans don't support tenure. They see it as archaic. Tenure is a disservice to children.

Anonymous said...

1:40 it's all about due process. Find me where most Americans do not support due process. Dare ya...

Anonymous said...

I agree we need "great young teachers". However, as I recall it was those young teachers that were preventing low income and minority kids from succeeding, at least so we were told by local activists from about 2004 to 2010 or so. And boy could they crank out data and graphs to support their contention.Makes you wonder what brought about their recent change of opinion.

Pamela Grundy said...

No one has changed their opinion. As older teachers retire, we need an influx of great young teachers who will make teaching a career, getting better by the year and serving all our children well. What we don't need are high-poverty schools where large numbers of teachers have only one or two years of experience, and thus haven't had the chance to hit their educational stride. Didn't need them then, don't need them now.

Anonymous said...

Just walk out I say to Teachers in Mecklenburg County. Stop talking and organize a walk out it will wake the McMayor up !

Anonymous said...

Teachers do not give up your career status for $500. Career status is a property right once attained. Sue them! Let's make it a class action suit!
What we also need to do is change the legislature and the governor in 2014 and 2016. You voted them in now vote them out.Repealing of these laws can happen! It is time to fight back!

Anonymous said...

The whole problem with eliminating tenure and performance-based pay is including standardized test scores in the equation. Even though 30 years of NCLB has brainwashed everyone into thinking that test scores can measure a teacher's (or a school's) performance, it's just not true. There are too many factors that play into a student's score that have nothing to do with a teacher's performance. Shall I name a few?


The Reading and Math tests each take up to four hours over a two-day period. The new Science and Social Studies tests each take 90 minutes over an additional two day period. All total, the tests last longer than most Bar Exams. Really??

Required Harsh, Sterile Testing Environment:

After a year of building rapport and relationship with the students, the teacher, on testing days, must turn into a robot and speak only scripted words and if a student has a question, the teacher is allowed only to re-read the scripted words. Students may not move from their seats, even to retrieve a dropped pencil. Gee, shouldn't we all be able to do our best work in these conditions?

Testing Apathy:

When a student isn't interested or invested enough in the test, who or what can force him to actually read the passage or the problem and try to find the best answer? He can just go through and randomly fill in his bubble sheet and the teacher can say or do nothing about it.

That's not to mention any number of personal or social problems that might be affecting a student on a particular test day.

How does any of this evaluate my performance as a teacher?

Go ahead and base my pay on my performance, but judge it accurately. Come into my classroom as often as you wish. Watch me teach. Look at the work and projects my students create. Ask them questions about what they are learning and listen to what they say. Then evaluate me and throw the standardized tests out the window.

That would be true education reform and would produce astounding results beyond a statistical number.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious to everyone at our school who are the administration favorites even though several are not effective classroom teachers. One of our best teachers gave her notice and quit teaching because she had enough of our admin. SO we are to depend on our administration to select who will be on the list? The way tenure is now - if administration is effective he/she can document evidences and get rid of a teacher. Tenure gives us a sense of safety if our administrator doesn't like us.

Anonymous said...

Tenure has never kept principals from getting rid of teachers. There was due process, documentation and an action plan in place to help teachers become better teachers and if not, let go. I believe the process helps principals to realize what the teacher is doing in the classroom. Fifty minutes a couple of times a year in a classroom observation does not show the real and complete teaching picture. Principals that don't get rid of low preforming teachers (can’t be judged on test scores only, but that is another topic) are just too lazy to go through the process. Tenure protects teachers from principals (who could not handle the classroom therefore choose to take the administration route) who just don’t personally like them. Think about it, most Assistant Principals, who become Principals, are less than 30 years old so that tells you how much classroom experience they have had.
Scary! What if the principal doesn't like the teacher.....just let that teacher go?

Anonymous said...

This whole idea is nuts. My suggestion to anyone teaching is to do it for a couple of years and call it what want: giving back to the community, scratching an itch, what ever. But while your teaching be sure you know a couple of acronyms such as CPCC, ITT TECH, ECPI, UNCC, etc. Go back to school!!!!!! Learn how to do something else. That's my thought.

Lowe said...

You know they should have fire administrators a long time ago. The possibility to fire a teacher has always been law. Administration was too LAZY to keep documentation for due process.

SCanipe said...

I love the anon comments that are so uninformed
1. Obama enacted a payroll tax cut at start of great recesion that repubicans would not extend, and now idiots believe he took it away.
2. Under our contracts teachers cannot strike.
3. All tenure in NC means is that the teacher has a continuing contract, with the same rules as the new teachers who have to re-sign yearly. Only protection is from being cut due to funding.
4. McCory chose to turn down federal medicaid money and gave millions to a scheme to re-segregate our schools, which took away any raises teachers may have gotten. He actually said, "I can't pay more for public schools, and pay for medicaid." Once again, lumping all poor people problems together.