As testing season soon approaches, visions of #edreform dance like sugar plums in teachers’ heads…
Just one of those that’s been dancing in mine.
One of my earliest posts (Volume #7) was about how to use technology to its maximum advantage in the classroom. I’ve sometimes been referred to an “early adopter” (one who starts using a product or technology as soon as it becomes available) because I like trying new tools as soon as I hear about them. However, the term “Early Adoption” seemed antiquated to me when talking about EdTech. I looked it up, and in fact the term originates from the technology adoption life-cycle originally published in 1957.
I think a better term might be “Early Adaptation” as one is”adapting” to how things will eventually be for all, rather than “adopting” something unusual, different, or foreign. Adoption is a concise process, where adaptation is ongoing. Am I just debating semantics here, or does someone else see my point?
So, to my current sixth grade students, that would be nothing invented before 2004. This means they see laptops, hybrid cars, iPods, camera phones, DVR or Tivo, and the internet as just regular normalcy, not technology. Our using them in the classroom would be analogous to when your teachers used television in the ’70s or ’80s: flashy and fun, but not novel or new.
The other day, I read that TRON was disqualified from receiving an Academy Award nomination for special effects. The reason? The Academy felt that the use of computers was cheating. No, really.
First of all, I can’t imagine the technology available in 1982 wasn’t more of a handicap than a shortcut. But anyway…
If you asked the students in your classroom about movies and special effects (or FX as they may spell it) they would think it synonymous with computers, CGI, and so on. There wouldn’t even be a line of distinction.
Education, like Hollywood, is an establishment. While we are not funded or respected like Hollywood (Vol.#45: Why Doesn’t George Clooney Have to Deal With This Crap?) there’s one important similarity this TRON trivia fact clearly elucidates:
The establishment often does not support or even understand a major industry change when it first arrives.
October has completely run away from me. A new school, a new curriculum, a new role as department chair, a mentor training program, leading Professional Development sessions and a conference presentation… I completely neglected the “Volumes”.
However, I couldn’t let this week get away without saying my (predictable) piece for getting out there to vote this Tuesday.
In honor of World Teacher Day on October 5th, WalletHub researched the 50 states and DC and ranked them in order of the best and worst states for teachers. Guess who’s dead last at #51? Our legislation denies this reality, even reporting skewed numbers to try to downplay the 25% increase in teacher resignations this past year from the year prior.
Voting is always important. But this Tuesday, it’s crucial for our teachers and the North Carolinian children they serve.
The NCAE website has a form where one can enter his or her address and receive a list of candidates endorsed by the North Carolina Association of Educators for that region here at ncaevotes.org. (Spoiler alert: It’s not Thom Tillis) #ItsOnNov4
What are you turning out for?
I’m so weary of those who say teachers should just give up the fight (as if many haven’t already) or suggest we have to compromise, as if that’s not what we’ve already been doing all along. And yes: the teacher status in North Carolina has repeatedly fluctuated between mediocre to abysmal to mediocre to abysmal for a long time. As I’ve told those who want to fight “team politics” before, I don’t see the point in rehashing who did exactly what when in our history. Now… right this moment…the teaching profession is under assault by the current NC policy makers.
Maybe not all teachers are under attack, but teaching as a profession certainly is.
Teaching is clearly not respected as a noble profession, or even a profession at all: It’s a “starter job”. You know, like a starter house? They seem to believe it’s what you do when you’re too young or inexperienced to get a “real” job. If you’ve been teaching longer that 20 years, it’s an expensive liability, not a strength.
And honestly, teachers would probably not give two cents what legislators thought, since we don’t think very much of them, except they get to be in charge.
Knowing and understanding nothing about us and what we do, they get to be in charge.
And they are not only ignorant about what we do… but have open contempt for those who do it.
And then there’s my own experience with Representative Bob Steinburg this week:
He says the national average of teacher pay doesn’t matter except we’re ranked number 32 now, however if that is true, why would he be so angry in the next sentence that we’re “talking national averages’? I asked several times for a source backing up this new 32% ranking, but he failed to provide any.
He did, however, post part of our conversation on his own facebook wall and make fun of teachers and how greedy we are with his followers, as I predicted would happen in the very post he’s calling garbage. I’m not a bit surprised that he and Representative Owens talked about teachers in the way I predicted, but I am a little surprised Mr. Steinburg put their contempt for teachers in writing. After all, he won by less than 5,000 votes.
We need to make it very clear that, while they hold teachers’ jobs in their hands as law makers, we all hold their jobs in ours as voters.
Any NC teacher, parent, or voter who has not read : “The Pay Scale No Politician Wants You to See: How the “largest pay raise in state history” amounts to an average of $270.” by James D. Hogan needs to do so. Now.
Clearly aimed at generating a headline and talking point during re-election this November, the NC GOP has pulled a “please just re-elect us” rabbit out of their hat. They’ve done some “smoke and mirrors” math, such as removing our earned longevity pay (which the other state employees get to keep by the way) and not including that subtraction in the figures as a loss when declaring they gave teachers a 7% raise.
In fact, some teachers will make the same or less.
And as teachers point this out, we’re set up to look greedy and unable to be pleased, since all many voters will hear is the “7% raise” party-line. Even the state paper now has a headline that sets up teachers for blame. (We paid for your raises by cutting all these things – are you happy now?) As seen in the comments section, for some voters the teacher-blame is already in full-swing:
And this misinformed mentality is just what those up for re-election are counting on this November. “We tried to give teachers a raise, but they just can’t be pleased.” *shrug*
Presto-chango: Is this your victim card?
I couldn’t resist making an infographic using some actual facts from Mr. Hogan’s piece above and this News & Observer Editorial:
Educators and parents of school-aged children can only hope the NC public is smarter than the NC GOP thinks. Otherwise, they will see what’s left of our dedicated North Carolina teaching force…disappear.
We have discussed the North Carolina General Assembly’s systematic dismantling of NC education from our unacceptable frozen salaries which rank us dead-last nationally over the last decade to the growing mass exodus of NC teachers.
Are we being heard?
Senator Jerry Tillman [R] is the chair of the Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force. They meet again tomorrow, Monday, April 14th to make their recommendations to the NCGA.
As a citizen and mother in North Carolina, I am gravely concerned about the rapid exodus of teachers leaving North Carolina for higher pay in other states. While I recognize that there are highly qualified teachers such as myself (all “accomplished/distinguished” per this year’s evaluation) who consider North Carolina their home and teaching their calling and refuse to wave the white flag, I completely understand why teachers are leaving at higher rates. Last summer, in my frustration with the legislation that was passed removing teacher tenure and once again denying teachers a cost-of-living adjustment or step increase, I started a blog to archive teacher resignation letters: www.resignnc.org Obviously, most teachers don’t go out in a blaze of glory like this and instead leave quietly, not to burn any bridges in case the situation ever does improve here. But for those brave teachers willing to speak up about why they were leaving, I wanted to create something of a time capsule to the period in which we find ourselves.
Recently, I began thinking about how much this moratorium on teacher pay is costing teachers out of their paychecks. I appreciate that people such as yourself are trying to come up with a system that you believe teachers such as myself (accomplished/distinguished) will prefer because there is the opportunity to earn more. I saw from Mr. Baxter’s presentation last week at the task force (via Twitter) that the current salary schedule is over 100 years old. Indeed, something that old justifies a closer examination of its relevance to the profession of teaching in the 21st century. The question I keep coming back to is this: if we were to poll every school’s “teacher of the year” or those teachers who got the highest performance evaluation at each school, what would they say? Obviously, they’re the ones who stand most to benefit from a new pay structure that recognizes and rewards their work. Yet, I am friends with hundreds (literally) of teachers, many of whom HAVE been teachers of the year at their school and nobody is interested in a model that pays some teachers more than others based on performance and it boils down to the argument I’m sure you’ve heard before: effective school-wide teaching depends on collaboration. When only so many teachers or a certain percentage of teachers can qualify for the higher pay, that creates a competitive atmosphere. And if the state were to say that there are no caps and that any teacher who meets or exceeds a proscribed set of criteria gets additional pay, it’s quite likely we would see a replay of the ABC bonuses wherein the criteria was met but the money wasn’t there. And that gets to the core of the issue: just as legislators clearly do not trust us to do our jobs, we do not trust them to pay what is promised. You can see this playing out now with the 25% contracts. Only the first year of the 4-year contract bonuses are funded. Teachers do not trust that the money will be there beyond that. (Though, obviously, our concerns about those contracts run deeper than the lack of funding).
In the meantime, teachers are making less many than they did 5 years ago. In fact, I took the time to create a blog post about this a few weeks ago and it’s generated quite a bit of traffic so far: resignnc.org/five-steps-back I wanted to share it with you. I am a teacher with 14 years of experience. I have a master’s degree (required for my position) and national board certification (an experience which truly did make me a better teacher). I am making $2560 less than a teacher with my EXACT credentials did in 2008. Over the past five years, I have lost a total of approximately $15,000. That’s the cost of a new economy car. That’s a year and a half of tuition at my son’s preschool. That would pay for 4 years of the Duke TIP camps that my daughter qualifies for but cannot attend because we can’t afford it.
I recognize that these numbers are based on the salary schedule that you and others feel is antiquated but right now it’s the only pay structure we have. And it’s the salary schedule we agreed to when we signed our contracts years ago. We have held up our end of the bargain but the state has not. We recognize that in 2008 the state entered a deep recession and when our pay was frozen the first year, most of us were grateful not to have been furloughed. But this year when the state cut revenue that could have been used to help teachers in order to instead help the wealthy and corporations, the trust between teachers and legislators hit an all-time low. And that is why any proposal for a hastily-prepared new salary structure will not be well-received by teachers: we have lost faith that the legislators are doing what’s best for us or for our students. What would it take to open our minds and hearts to something new? An act of good faith on part of the state to restore our step increases and get our base pay up to the national average. Then we will know their money is where their mouth is when they say they value education.
Until then, I will continue to collect resignation letters and hope that enough qualified teachers remain to prepare my own children for the future.
And so they should.
North Carolina often fills positions from teachers in states like Ohio and New York where turnover is low and teachers can’t find positions. However, with no more pay for advanced degrees in NC, most of those candidates will likely no longer be coming here anymore.
Besides needing to attract teachers, there’s the issue of teacher turnover. NCDPI was concerned enough about this very issue to send a report to the General Assembly. You can read the whole report here, but I’ve compiled a few highlights:
You’ll notice it’s not just that more teachers are leaving, but that more and more tenured, experienced teachers are leaving. The mentors of the beginning teachers. The department chairs. The leadership team members. The teachers any principal needs upon which to build a school.
The concerns the data raise are only the tip of the iceberg for what I feel is impending, based on my front-row view from the classroom trenches.
For example, of significant note but not yet reflected in this report is the fact that in Wake County alone, the number of teachers who have left specifically to teach in another state have already doubled so far this year from this data last year.
And…it’s still only February.
Also consider this year so far this blog has included:
None of these facts are reflected in the reported data. Yet.
And then, this week a teacher raise for only new teachers was proposed. This conversation, which I’ve been given permission to share with you, should give you some insight into the morale and mindset of North Carolina’s teacher leaders:
These are some of the best educators in North Carolina classrooms from all over the state. And although I can personally vouch for their exceptionalism as educators, I am certain these sentiments are not exceptional. Conversations like this one are happening on every facebook wall and in every teacher lounge in the state.
So, a colleague wrote this really insightful piece last week about whether educators are more like:
I can’t recap it and do it justice, so please read it.
Go on. I’ll wait.
Good stuff, right?
However, I surprised myself by reacting in an entirely different, non-serious way. Perhaps it’s due to the current state of education, particularly in my own state of North Carolina, where we have to laugh or we’d cry, but my husband and I just kept riffing (and laughing) on all the ways teachers are soooo not either of these professions.
I thought others may also get a chuckle from what we came up with…and maybe add a few more in the comments.
So, I present to you:
You knew it was coming. Let’s just get it out of the way, shall we? I made an infographic on easel.ly to see what the difference was in my own city.
I was curious.