Monday, May 12, 2014

Teacher to NC: It's breakup time

The best-read item I've ever posted on this blog wasn't written by me but by Justin Ashley, a dynamo of a fourth-grade teacher at McAlpine Elementary.  His letter to House Speaker Thom Tillis captured the passion, hope and frustration of so many teachers across North Carolina that it lit up social media.

I've enjoyed getting to know Ashley during the past school year.  So it's sad to report that he's planning to leave Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for a better-paying job in South Carolina.


And since I've learned he can speak for himself quite well, I'll simply share the letter he posted on Facebook Friday, telling this state he's calling it quits.  As of Sunday evening, it had been shared more than 300 times.

Dear North Carolina,

I'm leaving you.

To be honest, it isn't me; it's you. 

I've given you all I have to give: my days, nights, and weekends. I've sacrificed my money and hobbies for you.

I've done my best to please you over the years, but no matter how much I gave you, you always asked for more. In return, you gave me less and less.

Even worse, you refused to truly listen to me. I've tried, time after time, to explain my frustrations, but you always tuned me out.

And you frequently questioned me as if I'm unfaithful. With all that I do for you and the kids, how in the world would I have time for anyone else?

You've taken me for granted.

I deserve to be regarded as a partner in this relationship; Instead, you've treated me like a servant.

If you ever want us to be together again, you are going to have to make some serious life changes:

Treat me as an individual with my own perspective (no more top-down approaches to decision-making).

Respect my voice (don't remove my rights in this union between us).

Continually appreciate and repay me for all that I do for you (don't spend the money you owe me on someone else).

Trust me (don't measure me with unfair and inaccurate comparisons to others).

Call me crazy, but I believed I'd one day become a priority to you. And if not me, at least our kids! How were they never at the top of your priority list?

I used to love you, but I really can't do this anymore. I deserve better.

It's over.

I'm leaving you for your sister state, South Carolina.

If you ever decide to change your ways, call me.

You know the number.

Sincerely and No Longer Yours,
Justin Ashley
2013 North Carolina History Teacher of the Year
2013 North Carolina Social Studies Teacher of the Year

2011 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools East Zone Teacher of the Year


Larry said...

Hey, can we get to the dismal results coming out of CMS?

That or we should all watch the movie, Wag The Dog.

I want results that transcend today, and propel our kids into a future they need to succeed.

Our current educational system is based on a blueprint over a hundred years old, to create jobs important to folks then.

We now have many outlets and ways of teaching that most of us would gasp at if we researched it. And while some are not working, the majority of those efforts are.

So today we have a system that only fights against any competition or small change, and only lives to increase the size and wealth of those who live off of it.

As a former avid supporter of the system, and seeing how tax money has been handed over and over, trying to reach that magic number, where they have enough to actually educate, I am now an advocate for only one person, the Child that is being used as a hostage by CMS, Teachers, Taxpayers and Parents etc.

Today is our day. We can fix this.

Teachers can fix this, Parents can fix this, Students can fix this, everyone needs to fix this.

Why are we going to OZ asking for something we had all along? Who thinks government has helped anything, more than regular caring folks working together?

My first idea is to deconsolidate, and make it all manageable. So what are your ideas?

Oh and it is good this Teacher is going to SC, the graduation rate is much lower in SC than NC, and yet they pay Teachers more according to this Teacher. So I have to wonder why we use SC as an great example.

Anonymous said...

waaaaaaaaa ... waaaaaaaaaaaa ...

im taking my toys and going home off the playgroud you meanies ...

Anonymous said...

Grandstanding are we whiny boy?

Come on blog owner. You must display more integrity than to put crap like this out that does nothing to help the matter but inflame with negative self promotion.

Quitters never win. SC pay is not so great.
With NC and other states teachers headed to Washington DC to protest Obama's abject refusal to help and finally put the blame where it needs to be since he professes to be strongly pro-education, there may be big changes in the works soon.

signed: Eternal Optimist

Anonymous said...

The Republicans in NC are trying to privatize education. They are underpaying teachers to drive them out, they have cut their Masters Degree bonus, they have eliminated tenure, they are not funding required supplies, they have mobile classrooms instead of building enough schools. They are increasing the number of for profit charter schools, fighting constantly for vouchers for private schools, and even encouraging home schooling.

Connect the dots.

Anonymous said...

Low pay, disrespect from Raleigh, out of control students, clueless administrators, no stake parents. What's not to like?

Unknown said...

Brilliant!!!! Someone needs to let those clowns in Raleigh know that they are responsible for the state of education in NC.

Anonymous said...

Dear Justin, exactly what kind of career did you think you were getting into? Was the pay schedule hidden from you before you signed on?
What do you do for income the 2-3 months you aren't working?
Maybe your biggest mistake was thinking you could make a change in the Govco where results are not measurable, but the costs certainly are.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 8:27

The pay scale WAS published when he was hired, but they then froze salaries and stopped the "step" increases that pay you for experience.

I'm teaching my 7th year and getting paid for 1 year of experience. That means that when prices go up (and they do), my pay check doesn't track with those rises.

1.6% raises every year keep you whole.

@Anonymous 7:24

You need a hug.

Larry said...

8:13 So assume for a moment what you say is true.

And keeping mind that Republican have only had control of Raleigh for about two years.

And assume we reversed everything they have done for these two years.

So here we are with our CMS two years ago.

Care to explain why after over a 100 year plus democrat rule, Teachers were giving at least 2 percent a year, State Employees, up to 5 percent a year, even during the bad economic times?

Care to explain the deficits we are saddling our kids with just to keep people happy today?

Care to explain the horrid drop out rate and dismal test results?

Care to... well you get my point.

So are you wanting us to go back to that, which we know is not working, or keep trying something other than throwing money at it until it quits growing at us?

I hope you have some ideas, I know that those mobile classrooms are in the Suburbs and it is great you are worried how CMS has not built enough Suburban Schools, but over built in the Urban areas. Now that is something to look at and why. Good point on this mobile classroom thing.

Anonymous said...

Poor Justins 15 minutes will soon be
up. Nice try sonnie boy.

Republicans have only had control for 1.5 yrs after 150 yrs of the others who caused all this education mess.

And look at the godawful mess Republicans will have to clean up in 2016. Nothing compares.

Mission Impossible.

sherry said...

I guess I shouldn't be, but I am taken aback at the venom in a few of these comments--towards TEACHERS! "Did they hide the pay scale from you?" Well, no, I don't imagine they did, but this teacher was hired under a pay scale that has been changed--downward, i.e. eliminating higher pay for Master's Degree, etc--so that's not a fair assessment of dedication and committment. As for the "quitter" remarks, really? HE and his family should sacrifice and sacrifice and sacrifice for a job that requires a minimum of four years of college education? Really? What about you, commenter? What do YOU sacrifice every day because to go somewhere that pays enough to feed and house your family would make you a "quitter"? Teachers are not nuns, priests or missionaries, they don't take a vow of poverty when they receive their credentials.
Oh yes, and the comments about South Carolina having an inferior educational system? Right. Come south of the border, we'll show you our Silver and Bronze medal schools(US News Best Public High Schools), teach you about Lottery Tuition Assistance and educate you about our teacher pay scales. South Carolina leaves you in the DUST when it comes to education, buddy.

Bird said...

Working backwards...

Anon 8:27: So, are you seriously putting the blame on Justin for assuming he could sustain himself and his family by choosing to take a job that he is obviously passionate about and very good at? It's not like he's headed to SC to do something different.

Anon 7:54: $5K - $7K more in SC IS a significant amount

And Larry, you rightly ding the SC graduation rates, but he's just jumping the state line. Your better comparison would be the Ft. Mill/Rock Hill rates to CMS, which are comparable...

Anonymous said...


While this creative missive may sum up the reason why this fantastic teacher is leaving NC, it also will highlight the disrespect from the community, as already witnessed in the preceding comments, which, unless it ever changed, and we know it never will, will allow the status quo to prevail.

There is not a teacher in this state, in this country, who thought that (s)he was going to get rich in this profession. But, to answer the question for Anonymous 8:27, the pay scale has been frozen for years, so the salary I thought I would be earning if still employed has not materialized.

It is somewhat ironic that this column appears the week after "Teacher Appreciation Week." I guess we can call this a return to "Teacher Un-Appreciation Year."

Jonathan Golden, Teacher

Anonymous said...

Justin man yeah it sucks having to move on to get ahead, but that is what it takes.

It's been a long cycle of the rise of unions and the rise of living standards, then the unions got too greedy, unions fall, living standard falls. Now here we are in the golden age of no bargaining power where we are just glad to have our jobs and keep our mouth shut to avoid the attention of those who would put us in the next round of layoffs.

So yeah Justin it sucks to think that those above you don't care about the end product, but they too are trying to survive. It's a great thing our country is becoming. Don't look back because no one has your back.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant? Says who? The real clowns who caused all this were kicked out recently.
Give the good guys a chance to clean up their 100+ year mess. Geez ..

Anonymous said...

You seem to forget, as always, that many of these young teachers are not far age wise from the dreams of their students. When the voices and motivation of their dreams are gone, all we're left with are the oversupply of vociferous rants in a newspaper and the for profit alternative model. You are right, however, to pursue the number of non-teaching positions usurping both funds and time from the classroom while pursuing every form of teacher harassment possible in order to justify their position.

bobcat99 said...

Great letter. It is going on Facebook again. It is very disappointing to see some of the mocking comments posted here. These comments demonstrate why we have the leadership we have today in Raleigh. There is no belief in the common good. There is no belief in a common future. The most commonly held belief is that government taints everything it touches. At least the old liberal hippies of a generation ago led a critique of the system in hopes of making it better. Today's right wing critics have no interest in a better system. If they and theirs can't have it all, they would just as soon dismantle everything. This is not only anti-social but, in my opinion, anti-American. I invite these critics to filter their own water, grow and inspect their own food, educate their own children, refuse their Social Security checks, pave their own roads, and hurry up and die when they get sick.

Anonymous said...

8:27, teachers pay has been frozen, this is not what they signed up for. Is increasing teachers pay going to fix all NC problems, no. Is loosing talented teachers to local markets, no. I love my kids school. Parents are involved, teachers work hard and the results show it. I am not worried about other schools. Anything in life is what you make of it. We are loosing teachers and it is effecting everyone. The pay is ridiculous. It wasn't that great before the freeze. Raleigh is proving to be incompetent as far as education goes. The reason people are talking about SC, is because of teacher loss to SC. My kids school has lost 2 teachers to SC. I understand many people have problems with CMS. I don't care. I like my kids school. I like the teachers. Teachers do not set policy. The are not in charge of free lunch programs or project lift. Why can't NC figure this out. I new something was wrong when I first moved here and my kids teacher was cleaning the bathrooms at our community pool.

Wiley Coyote said...

My son's COLA for serving in the military overseas is set to be cut by two thirds or $200.00 PER MONTH on May 16th.

So the teacher is leaving. I think it's great.

He made the choice.

CMS will continue on.

The graduation rate will continue to rise.

More 3rd graders will be on reading level.

CMS will do all this with fewer teachers.

And the sun will rise tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I have two comments -
Justin, good for you for making a decision you believe is right for you and your family. You have most certainly excelled at your career. Congrats!
As for jumping the state line - make sure you look at the income tax implications if you continue to live in NC and work in SC....
Best of luck

Larry said...

9:17 For profit? I always wondered what folks meant when they say that about any school but CMS type systems?

Often, for profit colleges produce, what is considered the better product, and everyone strives to attend them.

Then why do we denigrate those Colleges, and wish for them to be institutions like CPCC, which produces very fine Graduates themselves?

Or do we just let folks who wish to pay more, borrow more and get scholarships, have choices in their future?

Maybe it is time to start looking at what profit alternative schools are getting for the results they produce.

Then especially at CMS and the results they produce for the Billion plus each year for about , 150 thousand kids, plus the schools, we build, the buses they get, and the food that is provided etc.

CMS is not for profit so the folks who operate it need not be concerned about savings.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame him one bit. It's absurd what teachers are being paid. Look no further than the clowns in Raleigh that let this happen. As long as they continue to do nothing (or take things away), all the great things that North Carolina has gained over the years will be for not. Because without a great education system, you won't see the influx of companies relocating or expanding businesses here. The economy will not grow. People will stop moving here. Everyone will eventually move on to greener pastures. More than anything, I feel for the kids here. They are the ones that will eventually feel the nickle and diming of Raleigh. Teachers are worth far more than a banker, lawyer or computer programmer.

Anonymous said...

Ashley, work 28 years and have at least an excelent appraisel every year and then be displaced for no reason. Have 2 kids in college when it happens. This is not your Dad's world we live in. So, I feel for you, but get what you can get as experience and move on as you have. You will need to understand that the next move will be Alabama or Mississippi if you keep moving south, because NC is a mirror of Atlanta

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:40, perhaps you should sit in on some of the classes at your kid's/kids' school. I knew that you had some valid points but your lack of proper grammar overshadowed everything you said.

As for the original post and many comments, teachers knew they were signing up for low pay positions but that does not mean they expect to be held to higher standards each year without being compensated more for such. To those who work in fields outside of education, would you stay in a position for years on end without an increase in pay? Would you find incentive to put in extra hours and gladly accept additional work load for the same pay as before? Great teachers are coming to CMS, putting in their time to gain experience and strengthen their credentials and then jumping ship because CMS is broken. It is on the mend but band aids do little to heal bullet holes.

Anonymous said...

Why is this always Democrat and Republicans? NC didn't used to be this way. Teachers pay was frozen under Democrats. It has stayed Frozen since 2011 under Republicans. When I voted for Mcory, I hoped he would fix this and move on. Teachers pay and education should be something we can all work together on.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Change this to sound like it was written by a CMS student or family, and it would reflect the views of the families who are making this same decision each and every school year.

Why is everyone now up in arms about CMS' treatment of the teachers, yet remaining silent about CMS' tone deftness to the consumers of the products they provide to their customers????

Larry said...

Someone asked me to compare Fort Mill Schools to CMS.

I did see that they are majority white students, up to about 90 percent in cases, down to about 66 percent in some schools.

And we have 32 percent white students in CMS. Note for some reason we have not had the most recent numbers from CMS. They blame Raleigh, Raleigh blames them, etc. etc.

But the numbers of white Students in CMS has dropped and dropped, yet no one seems that interested.

Maybe we need to ask more questions of this Teacher on just why he is leaving.

Anonymous said...

This weekend I heard from an ill-informed friend that NC teacher's pay is being cut 30%, and that teachers are paid so much less in NC than elsewhere.

Has anyone addressed the fact that higher teacher pay states are often unionized, where teacher jobs are coveted and extremely difficult to obtain and where teacher performance is often impossible to manage and thus often missing.

Anonymous said...

How can any teacher with a family and major bills be "passionate" making peanuts unless you get a masters and principal job? Get real.

And forget spending 4-8 hrs extra daily coaching making 10 cent an hr. Passionate does not pay bills feed kids make mortgage or car payment. Nobody buys that anymore.

Get a job selling insurance or RE. Atta boy or atta girl teaching with pauper wages don't cut the muster.
Be "passionate" about making big $$ using your people skills. They don't teach that in college.

Or you could take BHO advice and get welfare or fake a disability. No one gets turned down now.

Justin should try comedy. Wake up before its too late even in a bad economy. Nobody gets younger. The blog owner is living proof.

The GOP white knight on a shining horse is coming to the rescue America to try to fix this wretched mess soon. Hopefully its not terminal.

Anonymous said...

Just raise income taxes a couple of percentage points.. Just tax and spend. It's simple and easy, and we retain and attract those high quality teachers to teach our absent parenting kids.
I really don't see why this has all of the sudden become an issue as teacher pay has stunk for years and years. I assume it is midterm elections and Democrats driving the dialogue through the media.

Anonymous said...

Your right, sorry working and predictive text on my phone get's me everytime.. Lol:)

Wiley Coyote said...

Teachers leaving for various reasons:

2012/2013 - 1,329 teachers
2011/2012 - 1,177 teachers
2010/2011 - 1,215 teachers
2009/2010 - 1,080 teachers
Average of the 4 years, 1,200.

In 2009/2010, there were 9,253 teachers in CMS.

In 2012/2013 there were 8,309. In 4 years, the district has lost 944 teaching positions.

So CMS has done more with less.

Anonymous said...

My ex-wife recently received an email from our son's elementary school asking parents to contact the state legislature about teacher pay.

Yet, the email only contained facts in support of higher teacher pay. When is someone going to lay out all the facts instead of cherry picking only those that make the state out to be the bad guy.....

Anonymous said...

Whiny self absorbed spoiled brat. So he has given up everything. Yeah Right!!

Every thing but summers off, 2 weeks at Christmas, every pretend holiday any one can think of.

He ( and all teachers) need to compare hours worked to their peers in the private sector. Sure they make more money but they work a LOT more. Two weeks vacation, maybe 2 days at Christmas one day at Thanksgiving, no spring break ect.

And he wants to be a partner. Sorry you are an employee. You need to grow up and learn how the world works.

Anonymous said...

Compulsory k-12 and college are entirely different animals Larry, please do not compare them as if they are the same.

GOP as white knight on shining horse...kinda like the klan?

Larry said...

1:04 I have not compared, as you felt I had.

I compared for profit schools with for profit colleges, and the results the produce for what they charge.

Sorry you feel the way you do about Republicans, maybe CMS is the way for you and your children's future.

Anonymous said...

Teachers should be paid more. It's embarrassing and will eventually be damaging to Charlotte, Inc., er, N.C. that we are so parsimonious with teachers.

So I don't blame Justin one bit for seeking a better opportunity for himself.

But the best predictor of student academic success has always been household income.

That is, affluent students do better academically than non-affluent students.

Within affluence, there are a host of reasons why this is so: income buys time for parents to be engaged. Income helps provide (usually, not always) a stable home environment that is conducive to learning. Affluent parents are usually themselves the product of affluence and so know the value of education and uphold, even revere education in the home.

Obviously, not every affluent home produces academically successful students. Nor does every financially and stability-challenged home produce academic failures. But in general, affluence = academic success and poverty does not.

When we figure out how to effectively address this, we will have a lot of our problems solved.

Larry said...

1:15 How about the Charles Tindley in Indianapolis?

How about the fact 90 percent of all students attend a Charter School in New Orleans?

Shamash said...

"But the best predictor of student academic success has always been household income."

No, that's just the best POLITICALLY CORRECT predictor.

If I showed you an example, would it, could it, possibly convince you otherwise?

I kinda doubt it.

Because it's really obvious from NAEP publications on the black/white "performance gap" but no one likes to acknowledge it.

It has something to do with the performance of poor white boys compared to ALL the black boys (even the ones who aren't getting a free or reduced lunch, but are somehow still "poor" performers).

And no one likes to see that comparison.

Because it doesn't fit the oh-so-popular "poverty" narrative very nicely.

Shamash said...

"Someone asked me to compare Fort Mill Schools to CMS."

No, Larry. You're not supposed to talk about that black/white thing.

You should point out the poverty levels.

But be sure to ignore the fact that poverty doesn't affect everyone quite the same way as the current narrative suggests.

Or you will risk offending someone who doesn't want to risk offending anyone.

And someone might have to look at something else besides "poverty" which is dragging many of these kids down.

Because, then the answer gets more difficult than just throwing more of other people's money at the "problem".

Shamash said...

I can't blame a guy for seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

Sometimes it's just best to leave the problem behind.

Y'all c'mon down heah, ya heah.

Anonymous said...

A few points here. I have lived in sc and nc and there are stark differences: Taxes in nc are far higher in most categories. Cost of living, especially in housing, is far higher in nc. The freeze in steps for teacher pay didn't start in 2011, it began in 2008. Despite bringing in less revenue, sc pays teachers more and has a great tuition waiver program to keep its brightest students in state. The veteran teachers in nc are trapped but the younger ones should leave and not look back.

Anonymous said...

You make the assumption that affluence is the cause of better performance. It is likely that both better performing students and family affluence are caused by the same thing: a culture of effectiveness. Put another way, the reason kids from well to do homes do better generally in school is that their parents inculcate in them the same habits, values, and work ethic that caused the parents to become affluent.

Economic station in life is largely the result of productivity and how it is applied. Exactly the same is true of educational attainment.

Aubrey Moore said...

This is a fairly effective way of making a point and I congratulate the young man for having the imagination and determination to make his point in divorce terms. I had to quit teaching many years ago for better pay and I understand that it is truly like a divorce.

The geniuses like Larry, too callous to understand the real nature of the relationship of teachers to their profession, and driven by the absolute belief in their own ignorance(which they call genius) do help to make a point. This dumbing down of the teaching profession in North Carolina is only to get teachers more in line with their low mentality levels so they can understand that which they are too lazy to learn, and too bias to recognize. It shows the level of ignorance that drives the Right in our fair state.

Anonymous said...

Let's just face it; teachers really aren't valued much in the U.S. in general and in NC in particular.

Last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers made more than twice as much as all the kindergarten teachers in America combined.


So, it seems to me that the move in the article is simply the "invisible hand" of the free market at work and we can expect more of it so long as NC schools are not competitive in salaries that retain the college graduates that are our teacher workforce.

Wiley Coyote said...

So Aubrey...

Tell us what drove the Left's ignorance for 100 years prior to the Right taking over the state?

Anonymous said...

The modern pc age of ignorance and inferior education dumbed down from A-Z. Wasted generation with a few exceptions.

"Don Quixote de la Mancha;" Miguel de Cervantes; 1605

Chivalry is a code of conduct adopted by medieval knights. The white knight in shining armor is a person or entity who embodies those chivalrous values.
The white knight in shining armor is a champion who comes to the rescue of another, often a damsel in distress.

The heroic white knight stems from fictional tales of knights errant dating from the 14th century.

The code of the white knight in shining armor includes honor, gallantry, loyalty and fairness.

Contemporary Usage
A man who comes to the aid of a woman is often referred to as a knight in shining armor.

A company or organization that provides assistance to another firm in order to prevent a hostile takeover is called a white knight.

Famous literary white knights include Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain and Don Quixote.

Merriam Webster: Chivalrous

Merriam Webster: White Knight

Random House: Knight Errant

Shamash said...

Anon 1:15pm...

"That is, affluent students do better academically than non-affluent students."

Truth IS...

That IS NOT true for BLACK vs WHITE students where affluent students Black perform WORSE than non-affluent White students.

(Where affluence is defined by those "trusty" FRL numbers...)

Remember that black/white "achievement gap" we used to hear so much about?

It's not just poverty and affluence...

See figures 7 and 8 on page 11 where black and white 4th and 8th graders math scores are compared across several years.

Note that in ALL cases white kids who are eligible for FREE lunches (i.e., not affluent) beat black kids who are NOT eligible for either Free or Reduced lunches (i.e., affluent, or at least RELATIVELY affluent).

Sorry, but that poverty dog don't hunt in these woods.

They are barking up the wrong tree.

These "facts" say otherwise.

The results for reading are similar for fourth graders but worse for eighth graders (see figures 19 and 20 on p. 33).

Nameless said...

Anyone who has volunteered in schools or government committees and have family or friends who work in the systems can understand the real problems. But no one has the guts to fix the issues that aren’t grabbing the headlines of the day. Salary is certainly low, especially considering that remaining teachers must take on work that assistants and support staff did but are now gone. But increased salaries aren’t all of the solution.
There are other issues that I observed have been a long term factor in ‘teacher dropout’:
- Time expectations outside of work and sometimes ridiculously or no lunch breaks.
- Constant fear of legal action against the teacher or the district
(The state/county does not support districts nor teachers enough from outside influences that derail decent or proven programs. Teachers are constantly aware that daily actions, even in support of policies, could harm them personally. Administration and government distance themselves should a teacher need backup or even legal defense. )
- Changing overall teaching/content strategies every 2 years, following the latest trends each year prevents staff from embracing any, knowing it will change.
- Middle management (individual school administrators) shielding teachers’ concerns from upper management (downtown Administrators) and the politicians and public. Elected officials rely on only information from Administrators. Classrooms are ‘prepped’ for their visits.
- Technology/software being dumped on teachers with nearly zero training (expectation is they must take additional personal time to learn and create multimedia content to teach).
- Resources are wasted because “teacher needs” are dictated by others who don’t actually teach in the classroom or even ask each teacher what they need. Downtown administrators should prepare a lesson plan and teach at least one class per quarter to understand this.
- There is not enough support staff AT EACH SCHOOL to prepare materials or train EVERY teacher. “Train the trainer” does not work well at all and all the great software and gizmos don’t get used effectively. Every school needs trained Information and Tech support onsite at least weekly to repair, set up or train staff to use equipment and software.
- There are lots of conflicts in the state system. The state has huge incentive to have teachers quit after a couple years. Why? Because the state collects billions of dollars from college students and must graduate new teachers each year that are expected to find jobs. Part of this is linked to the Teaching Fellows program which guarantees placement and priority for raises. They diminish the value of tenure and favor new hires during the short term. THEY ALSO WANT YOUNGER WORKERS IN THE STATE HEALTH PLAN POOL TO KEEP COSTS DOWN TO THE TUNE OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS LONG TERM.
- Colleges cut their teaching degrees over the last 3 years because of their own budget cuts or drop in demand. But that feeds itself. Fewer programs now mean fewer future enrollees.
- Tech folks such as Microsoft, Apple, etc. interfere in order to get their products widespread adoption. Bill Gates Foundation interferes by pushing agendas that promote new grads that are more likely to be using or buying their latest product straight out of college. The latest thing is not always better.
- There is not enough respect for the experienced long term teachers who help the newbies get their feet grounded in the real world environment. Under the planned system of incentives, the ‘old timers’ will be last to receive any raise if any. Instead they will offer to ‘buy them out’ of their tenure; which is code for ‘let go’ after 5 years.
There is not enough time for us as individuals to solve all of this, except to pick a couple things to champion and hope others do the same.
Salary increase is a good step, but will not resolve many issues.
The rate we’re going, kids will be watching computer videos and taking online tests from home.

Shamash said...

Anon 2:43pm.

"Put another way, the reason kids from well to do homes do better generally in school is that their parents inculcate in them the same habits, values, and work ethic that caused the parents to become affluent."

Gosh, I think you just MIGHT be on to something that most don't want to hear.

But note that it's nearly the entire education bureaucracy that makes the same bad assumption.

Even when it doesn't match the facts that they know are there.

And even though it does explain why "poor" Whites and Asians still outperform the "non-poor" Hispanics and Blacks.

In scientific terms, the theory which explains the most facts is the best.

In education, the theory which pleases the most politically "sensitive" bunch is the best.

Shamash said...

Anon 4:39pm

"Because the state collects billions of dollars from college students and must graduate new teachers each year that are expected to find jobs."

Well, that's a new one to me.

So it's all just an effort to keep the education schools afloat?

If so, then that's just about the worst thing I've heard about the education bureaucracy.

But it would explain why so many potential teachers apparently don't get the kind of career counseling they should to avoid getting an education degree.

They've been scammed.

Patso4Teaching said...

4:39..... YOU nailed it!!!! But you forgot to mention that the TFA mercenaries are being hired to replace the teachers.

Larry said...

Thanks Wiley, Shamash.

Aubrey Moore: I am glad you understand so much.

All the best in your future.

Kyle, teacher said...

The amount of ignorance and disrespect towards teachers on this post is appalling... Doesn't take long to realize how the state legislators got to where they are.

Let's dispel some of the lies on here:
1) Myth: Teachers have 3 months off a year.

Fact: Teachers work 60+ hours a week when school is in session and have about 8 total weeks of time off. If you average the extra 20 hours per week on top of a normal 40 hour week, you get to a level where they actually put in about the same amount of time as the average traditional worker.

2) Myth: Teachers are leaving because of CMS conditions.

Fact: The problem is statewide. CMS has grown more than any other big city school district over the past few years, but has actually seen the number of positions decrease.

3) Myth: Teachers knew their pay would be crappy, so they shouldn't whine.

Fact: There was a salary scale, but those who decided to get certified in teaching didn't realize that North Carolina would go from near the national average in pay to over $10,000 less than the average in under 10 years. Teachers didn't know NC would drop to number 46 in teacher pay, despite cost of living not being that low.

4) Myth: Those who can't do... teach.

Fact: Tons of talented people WANT to teach, but choose to go into other fields (business, law, etc) simply because owning a home and building a family is more desirable than what can be provided with $30k a year. Imagine the results in education if the best and brightest people had the incentive to go into teaching.

Unknown said...

Such hate and disrespect towards teachers. It sickens me... You can say what you need to say with out bashing others. Bottom line is teachers and most State employees in NC have been disrespected. Pick your blame democrats or republicans, I don't really care becuase the damage is done. FACT: Great teachers are leaving YOUR STATE, the same teachers you'd want to Teach YOUR CHILDREN. So who's the ULTIMATE loser in this situation??

Anonymous said...

Dear North Carolina,

This Saturday, I graduate with a second B.A. in Elementary Education from Belmont Abbey College. Most of my classmates are my oldest son's age and although I technically have no more experience in an elementary classroom than they do, I do have invaluable life experience as a parent, PTO president, School Leadership Team member and former specialty area teacher. I'm immensely proud to report that my young, capable, intelligent, immensely talented, enthusiastic, optimistic, humble, idealistic, inspiring, kind, compassionate, courageous and bold classmates epitomize everything to the highest level and degree that one could possibly hope for in education. Tragically, most of these wonderful young teachers will leave the profession within 5 years.

CMS finally managed to send a live human representative to speak to my cohorts and I about available teaching positions within the district after years of neglecting this local resource despite student teaching placements at many challenging Title 1 schools. On behalf of my classmates and I, we thank CMS for recognizing and acknowledging Belmont Abbey College's worth as part of our state's educational landscape at a time when many historically black colleges and universities, including Johnson C. Smith, are shutting down their education departments due to a severe lack of interest in this field of study.

My ideal goal is to find a teaching position in NC. However, since my hard earned master's degree that I received on full tuition scholarship plus stipend at George Washington University was deemed irrelevant this past summer by leaders in our state legislator, and therefore not even worth displaying on a classroom wall, in addition to NC's abysmal teacher pay scale that only barely exceeds (by $1,000) what I made in Maryland as a lateral entry specialty area teacher in 1989, I will most certainly be considering the option of flying southbound to South Carolina.


Anonymous said...

Justin Ashely:

The Courage to Teach - elsewhere.

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

from Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
'Cause there's a million things to do
You know that there are


Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are

Anonymous said...

Sad comments from sad people on this board. Don't act shocked when you don't have educators you need but the ones you deserve. This is outright war from the right on educators. Payback will be harsh for the republicans in this state.

Anonymous said...

I think we should end public education as we know it, let's end the debate on all fronts and close all traditional public schools and replace them all with privately owned charter schools. While we would not see any dramatic academic improvement, the cost savings would be huge. Traditional public education is a failure, a waste of time and has done nothing to alleviate poverty, thus it is time to try a completely new model. I bet if you were to research the kids in CMS who are on the free or reduced lunch program at school, you will see their parents also received the same benefit when they were in school.

Anonymous said...

Some of the commenters here are despicable. These kinds of denigrating attitudes toward teachers are the same some North Carolineans send to school with their children. North Carolina will soon be taught by under-trained, underpaid new teachers who will be overwhelmed. We've seen it already. Some new teachers are already bailing out. I have never see such blame and hatred toward a profession as I see here in NC. Imagine blaming a nurse for the progression of leukemia in a patient or believing a lawyer should be degraded when his client is convicted of robbery.

I agree that the "if I can't have mine" folks would just as soon have their children play havoc in the classroom and prefer to dismantle education. Please folks, wake up. Look at administrative bloat. It begins in Raleigh and trickles down to local system administrative staff, the upper management of "the system". Administrators who are also shoving teachers this way and that make astronomically larger salaries than the teachers they are coaxing out the door before they reach career status.

By leaving, the best teachers are going to change the system here. It will crumble, just as you want. Ten years from now, we will have a different system. Something about it will resemble the earlier, seemingly noble beginnings of education. And finally, when NC gets that pay-as-you-go system, we all know who will benefit and who will lose.

Shamash said...

Well, I see there is finally a silver lining to all this...

In their stampede to leave the profession, potential teachers have finally gored a sacred cow.

JCSU to close its school of education.

"He said fewer students are interested in teaching because of low teacher pay."

And here's the game-changer...

"Pinkard also expressed concern that the closure would mean fewer minority teachers."

NOW you KNOW someone will take action. Because it's not just about "education" anymore.

It's about minority jobs.

And they don't pay enough to get the minorities interested in the jobs anymore.

Usually, that means they will open the borders wider.

But I don't think those glorious education meccas below our southern border have an oversupply of unskilled teachers we can just "borrow".

And they have their own education issues at this time...

Shamash said...

What Good Career Counseling Can Accomplish...

Johnson C. Smith University will close its Department of Education after the 2015-2016 academic year because of declining enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Everything you said is true, and the reasons I left CMS and now am a consultant with principals and teachers in 14 states. In CMS and in North Carolina it is not about the children, and not about the teachers and principals who truly care about them!

Nancy Guzman
2011 CMS Principal of the Year

Anonymous said...

He does, that's why he is leaving..

Anonymous said...

So they both have done poorly, awesome. Go NC!! Republicans in SC work with teachers, Go Gamecocks!!

Anonymous said...

This state is broken.. Education is just a produced of the distinction. As I read this blog, I see a common theme. Give teachers some sort of raise or at least reinstate the "old" pay scale. What ever that means. Why can't something be done. Since I have moved here it has been talked about. That was 5 years ago. Why is NC so broken? Why SC able to have a teacher pay scale and NC can't? I can't find any state that does not have a pay plan for it's teachers. It's weird, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

This teacher is a poster child for merit pay.

If you have a guy who works really hard and outshines his peers at teaching, what does he get? The same old lousy paycheck. The same paycheck he'd get if he would slack off a little. No wonder he's moving on.

Unknown said...

We all knew what we signed up for. What you may not understand is that over the past 12 or so years it has gotten worse and worse. For a brief period it looked up for teachers. The state made an earnest attempt to raise pay and become competitive nationally...then the economy tanked. And the teachers understood - for the children we had to do more with was just a necessity of the times and we got it...there was no whining. But now it is 8 years of frozen pay and lengthened days later. The economy is recovering and teachers are being treated as 3rd class citizens. This is not a matter of not wanting to be accountable- not wanting to work hard and do our best. It has become so unreasonable - the expectations are not attainable for ANYBODY! And they keep giving less and less and asking more and more. Its one thing to be a civil servant of sorts - to go into it knowing the pay isn't fabulous but you can live on it. But the level of dehumanization teachers are expected to accept has grown to a point that even the smiles, the grateful parents, the special notes and the aha moments when a child FINALLY "gets it" - it just isn't worth it anymore.

Wiley Coyote said...


Your Myth 1 isn't a myth. You did some overreaching with your numbers.

Teachers in NC are contracted to work I believe 195 days per school year.

It doesn't matter how many hours you work at night or the weekends, you get paid for 195 days.

My salary is for 260 work days That includes between 60 and 90 nights per year I spend out of town on business away from my family.

According to the last study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

~ National data shows that on average teachers work fewer hours per week than people in other professions–nearly three hours a week less.

~ The data includes both time in the classroom and time spent grading papers at home. It doesn’t include vacations and doesn’t account for the intensity of different types of work.

There are 260 work days per year not counting weekends, vacation, etc.

So as a NC teacher, you're paid for 195 work days where most people are paid for 260. That's 65 more work days for most of us.

That's 13 more "work weeks" than you have to work or 3.1 months more (20 to 21 work days per month).

Unknown said...

Its 7-8 weeks in the summer, but there is often required (and usually uncompensated) training, PD, and work in the classrooms. During the year we are lucky to get 15 minutes to wolf down lunch before we run to to check our mailboxes and try to pee before getting our kids back.....I was working 12 hour days as a teacher at least 4 days a week in addition to work taken home. Please don't tell me private sector employees work harder or more. We work as much or more in less time.

Shamash said...


" Imagine the results in education if the best and brightest people had the incentive to go into teaching. "

Uh, we'd be Finland.

But we have a long way to go before that happens.

First, we'd have to close down a lot more university Departments of Education.

And make all the teachers get undergraduate degrees in something besides Education.

Which would eliminate the surplus of people who accidentally got their Education degrees while really wanting to do something else that they weren't quite sure of at the time.

Not sure where the current crop of teachers would fit into this, though.

Wiley Coyote said...


How many days is your contract for?

Will said...

Hey Shamash... Why don't you just come out and say what you really want to say? Please stop using innuendo and referencing "PC" terms. Just tell everybody what you think is the problem and while you are at it, provide us with a solution to fix it. Thanks.

Will said...

For all the commenters who are whining that teachers "shouldn't" complain about their pay because they get summers off? That is funny to me. I work in the private sector, make double what teachers make in this state and I can GUARANTEE you that I do NOT work as hard as teachers do. It's a broken system. This state does not value education.

If your only argument is that teachers should be happy because they get their summers off, then that is a weak position and idiotic thinking. If you want your summers off and 2 weeks off during Christmas, then become a teacher! Please stop being miserable and hating on others just because you don't get enough time off from your own job.

I support teachers and I don't even have children. Thank you teachers for all that you do!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish everyone who frequents this blog could have a sit down and listen to Ms. Guzman describing the sordid inner workings and cronyism of CMS. Her comment here says more about the current and past state of affairs than anything the past five superintendents ever said. Finally, a crack in the veil of silence. Thank you Ms. Guzman.

Shamash said...


I think you should let the teachers know what you are doing for twice the pay and less work.

It's cruel to leave them hanging like that.

Will said...

Shamash, I am so glad and honored that you responded to me because I have a comment and request for you...

Instead of using innuendo and your playful use of "politically correct" terms, why don't you (and/or Wiley C.) just come out and say what you really want to say? Please stop beating around the bush and just come out and say what you think is wrong with CMS, what is wrong with certain students at CMS, what is wrong with certain parents at CMS, etc… I think we all have an idea what you think is the problem, however, please do share specifically your thoughts. I think your message is getting lost. In addition, please also enlighten us on a general plan to fix it. Just curious. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to NC? Regardless of your belief, there should be a respect towards your fellow man. Shame on NC. Did anybody read the opinion page? This is not the NC I grew up in. These are not my daddies Republicans. This is not how people should treat each other. Shame on NC. I always thought that liberal's where mean spirited.

Anonymous said...

I am with you Will, this is not NC. I knew all these Yankees would ruin NC. Teachers don't have unions and on our end we should pay them a fare wage. I don't now what the hell is going on.

Anonymous said...

Raises should go to only those employees at the school house, working on the front lines.

Cut CMS overhead and highly paid Admin offices.

Cut transportation services.

CMS, I just save you about $10 - $15 million a year.

(I am curious why are PE teachers being paid $63,000 year though?)

Anonymous said...

The problem is CMS does not pay teachers. The state pays teachers. Not well but that's who is charged with state salaries. I think that is part of the problem. Pay should be local. Break up these super districts and give local areas more choice. I wouldn't mind paying more for my local schools. I just don't want to pay for all. Regardless, NC was always seen as a bright spot in education. It helped us have a competitive edge over SC and other southern states. I fear all the bad national press and infighting is hurting NC. I was asked about low teacher pay in an airport in New Jersey. Looks may not be every thing..

Anonymous said...

They have masters degrees and have worked in NC for over 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Pay raises in jobs other than teaching are also dismal or non-existent. My husband gets an outstanding review every year but has not had a merit raise since 2007. My son works three jobs to make ends meet, two of which are teaching positions within the public education system. He has received some salary increases/bonuses in one of his public teaching positions but he has not had a raise in SEVEN years from his private sector job at movie theater. SEVEN YEARS! My daughter, who will be a college sophmore next year, can't find work other than unpaid internships. Personally, I am making a lot more money by being self-employed right now because the type of corporate jobs that I am qualified for pay less than they did 10 years ago. All that said, I am not saying this teacher doesn't deserve better but he needs to realize that in this economy it's not all about him.

Anonymous said...

Justin " Burger King " Boy

You should have it your way. Bright Flight of the best and brightest will continue on and on. Teachers AND students will continue to leave CMeS in droves.

Starting truck drivers make more than a 15 year veteran teacher with a Masters degree. Justin you could have been manager by now at BK with much better benefits. How could you continue to put your family in poverty ? What took you so long? You and CMeS should be ashamed of your decisions.

Anonymous said...

It's a blog. Most people text. You may be older. Do you use a desk top?

Wiley Coyote said...


The problem with public education continues to be the liberal mindset that has diversity at all cost as their driving principle.

Forced busing to achieve integration failed miserably and we're still feeling the effects of it today.

The lack of backbone today by politicians and educrats to put teeth into demanding parents be responsible for their children's education and not a "village".

The "village", aka taxpayers, will provide tax dollars to put programs in place to help EVERY child have an opportunity to succeed.

We will provide free lunches, testing, afterschool programs, etc. for anyone who truly and verifiable needs the extra help.

We will not continue to pass through kids. They either get held back and then move forward or they don't.

Let teachers teach and move the hell out of the way.

But what can we really expect when the system is dumbed down, data is questionable or lack of it and the powers that be never have enough money or space even though enrollment is not skyrocketing?

It's all a shell game.

Anonymous said...

Justin was in my graduating class, and we were well aware of the pay scale. The pay scale was frozen! Therefore he is not getting the gradual increase in pay that he anticipated going into the profession. Justin is an outstanding educator, and I assure you that the awards he has received are not an easy feat. This is a loss for the state, and he isn't the only one! A dear friend of mine that was "Teacher of the Year" left her position at Christmas time to open her second yoga studio. She could make more money, and it was FAR LESS stressful! Just because a person is passionate about helping children learn, doesn't mean that they don't have to prioritize their family. This profession is lacking male teachers/role models, because of pay.

Anonymous said...

What ever the issues, teachers should have a pay plane. It's strange not to.

Suzy Q said...

while we're comparing fort mill schools with CMS, we don't have asinine high school start times of 7:15am either.

Shamash said...


" I think we all have an idea what you think is the problem, however, please do share specifically your thoughts."

I think I've posted enough for anyone to figure this out for themselves, but I will try to summarize this for you (and all the others who are tweeting from their cellphones instead of posting nearly complete sentences from a mainframe...)


(There, I said it in all caps, just like the old-style teletypes used on mainframes).

It starts with the students and parents and extends to the schools (including many teachers and administrators, who are apparently in it by mistake or for the eventual bigger bucks in administration and consulting).

We have become a nation of excuse makers instead of doers.

We have a whole litany of "excuses" why "Johnny Can't Read" which extend from ethnicity to "disabilities" to economics and every other "measurable" attribute you can legally put on a Census form.

Everything except:

1. how well they behave,
2. how hard they study.

Note that these are INDIVIDUAL behaviors and are NOT restricted to any class, color, or creed.

They are available to EVERYONE who simply tries.

And they are things that make the MOST difference in any class I've been in.


But we all know that we cannot control what we cannot (or WILL NOT) measure, so all that gets ignored.

So I also abhor political correctness because it forces everyone (not just me) to talk in terms of things like "race" and "poverty" (which are largely unchangeable, but popular windmills to tilt at).

And PC forces people to propose silly "solutions" like "equality" and "eliminate poverty".

Even though there are plenty of examples proving that it's not just money or "inequality" preventing kids from getting an education.

Meanwhile, we IGNORE actions such as BEHAVING and STUDYING which make ALL the difference in education.

In other words, the politically correct thing to do today is argue about everything from "identity" (mostly SES and ethnicity), and not from the decisions and actions people take.

I'd like to see ONE, JUST ONE study in the education literature which cuts across ALL ethnic, SES, etc., groups to focus on what successful kids ACTUALLY DO that unsuccessful kids DON'T DO.

I'll bet that behaving, and studying are high on that list.

But that's too easy.

And it doesn't rally enough people to "protest" on the courthouse doorsteps in the same way that money or race does.

Please fill me in if you think I have any other ideas on the problem that I've missed here.

But I think this pretty much sums it up.

Shamash said...


And in case you are wondering, I WILL use race, SES, and other forms of "identity" politics to COUNTER the ridiculous politically correct BS being thrust upon us all in the name of "education".

So, YES, I will point out that poor white kids DO perform better than their economically better off black counterparts.

(If it's THAT little un-PC tidbit that's getting your goat..)

I do that to point out that there is something else going on that is NOT explained by the typical "poverty" excuse we are being fed on a daily basis.

(I could just as easily have used the same information I've posted on the higher performance of poor kids in other countries -such as Korea and Vietnam - on the PISA tests, but those don't seem to hit "home" quite as hard).

If nothing else, they are areas for further "research".

Because that's what you do when you find facts that contradict the current prevailing "theories".

(At least Sherlock Holmes would agree that exceptions disprove the rule).

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:37 is spot on.

Anonymous said...

I don't think teachers are asking for a raise. I think they just want a plan like any other state.

Shamash said...

Oh, yeah, the "poverty" excuse doesn't hold water in other countries, either, not just the US.

From a UK perspective...

"China’s poorest beat our best pupils"

Children of factory workers and cleaners in Far East achieve better exam results than offspring of British lawyers and doctors, says OECD.

“They have a can-do attitude to maths, which contrasts with the long-term anti-maths culture that exists here,”

Uh, oh, there it is again. That attitude thing towards learning.

Something money cannot buy and no amount thrown at the "problem" will change.

Anonymous said...

Larry, I have not had a 2% raise. My check has only decreased over the last 7 years.

Anonymous said...

Nice try sonnie boy. What? Where do you people come from?

Anonymous said...

Well said, Ben Stine said something very similar. Why do we not study successful students.