A private educational letter to NC representatives

Why, oh why, do you despise our public school teachers?

Is it because of that first grade teacher who started you on your path to where you are now?  She taught you how to count.  And read.  And think.

Is it because of that high school civics teacher who taught you how to pay attention to news headlines and the duties of being a citizen?  And vote.

Or maybe because you weren’t brought up in North Carolina public schools?

Whatever it was, why have less than 10% of your colleagues, my elected officials, responded to my correspondence?  Why were some of those responses rude and condescending?

And so, I sent another letter.

<crickets>

What is so wrong with public education, the foundation upon which which most of us built our lives and careers on, that you want to do away with it?  What is your end goal?

You have eliminated thousands of jobs by cutting teacher assistant positions with more reductions planned for the future.

You have tried to eliminate teacher tenure, which thankfully was ruled unconstitutional.

You have removed state-paid health retirement benefits for new teachers.

And I haven’t even touched upon the primary reason for contacting you.  Teacher pay.

You proclaim victory in teacher pay raises publicly under a cloud of misconception.  Yet many of the depressingly sparse responses I have received tout that you have given teachers the biggest raise in the history of the state.  One representative even responded to me with a single sentence and lacking a signature – “Where are you getting your facts from?”

My facts come from pay stubs.  Not mine, of course, as dedicated teachers are not in it for the pay.  They are in it for the children, the future of our state, the future of our country.  The pay stubs are from my spouse, a lifelong teacher.  A dedicated National Board Certified teacher.  A former Teacher of the Year for our county.  A tremendous asset to our schools.

Your response to my counter response?

<crickets>

Let me show you more facts.

Courtesy of WRAL Raleigh

Courtesy of WRAL Raleigh

When you add inflation into the mix to show real numbers, teacher pay has declined in North Carolina by over 13% in the past decade, under your leadership, including many of your colleagues who are still in office.  Yes, you have told me that you passed the largest pay raise in the history of the state as shown in the graph.  But you forgot to tell me that the raise is not what the numbers show.  It lumps in some incentive pay, like longevity pay, that teachers have been given for decades.  So some of it is not really a ‘new pay raise’ but is merely moving numbers around to look like a real pay raise.

It appears that you are forgetting to tell me, a tax payer, a North Carolina resident, a combat-zone veteran, a business professional, many of the facts and what your real agenda is.

And still, our teachers sit quietly by, grading homework on their own time.  Writing lesson plans on their own time.  Or working a second job to make ends meet for their family.

But there appears to be little hope as there are no plans to right this wrong that has been happening for nearly a decade.  Under your leadership.  As a representative of us, the people that you represent.

We have lost friends.  Not to untimely physical deaths, but to untimely career deaths, as they flock to other states that show they do care about public education. They care about teachers.  They care about our children and our future. In the 2012-2013 school year, more than 14% of teachers across the state resigned.  Since 2011, North Carolina has gained 30,000 students but lost 3,700 teachers.

Open positions that once had thousands of applicants from teachers around the country have only dozens of applicants, if any.  The influx of great, highly qualified teachers has come to an end.

I have a petition that I started to bring light to this injustice.  A petition that has thousands of signatures and continues to get more.  I am the voice of our public school teachers because they don’t have time.  They are spending countless hours outside of the classroom preparing to give their all, their best, to our children, our future leaders, our future business people, our future entrepreneurs.

I have shared this petition and written letters to our Governor, Pat McCrory.

No response.

I have shared this petition and written letters to our Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest.

No response.

I have shared this petition and written letters to our Speaker of the House, Tim Moore.

No response.

I have shared this petition and written letters to all of the members of the education committees in Raleigh.

Less than 10% response.

I even shared this petition and written letters to our Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. June Atkinson.

No response.

Dr. Atkinson did propose a 10% pay raise for teachers in January that was quickly rejected by House Speaker Tim Moore, yet I have yet to receive a response from her office to any of my letters.  Was that a token proposal because this is an election year for the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction?

So North Carolina representatives, you who represent us, the parents, the workers, and even the teachers, what is your true agenda?  What are you hiding?

I have asked nicely and that is receiving almost no response, so now I am demanding on behalf of every public school teacher in North Carolina, that you put our teachers first and give them the pay that they deserve.  I am demanding that you put our children first and put the best teachers in front of them.  Not for my benefit. Not for my family’s benefit.  I am demanding it for our children, all the children of North Carolina.  They deserve more.  You can do more.

So please tell me, what do you have against our public school teachers?

Respectfully,

Rick Barber

 

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