Docked for experience

Teacher raises skewed against veteran educators
By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Sep 05, 2014
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Seventh-grade language arts teacher Ashley Pompey teaches a class at Waynesville Middle School. This year, Pompey received a 4 percent pay raise.

Many legislators are heralding the recently approved state budget as offering teachers the highest pay raise in N.C. history, a salary hike that averages 7 percent.

But the word "average" is key in the discussion, and the amount of the pay raise varies significantly, depending on how long a teacher has been on the job.

This became apparent to Haywood County teachers after they received their first paycheck last month, a check that may have been slightly disappointing for many given the hype about the first raise school personnel were set to receive in six years.

It was certainly a surprise for Waynesville Middle School counselor Ken Newton, who has 43 years of experience, when he realized that his base salary would decrease about $3,500 this year.

Fortunately Newton will receive a $1,000 bonus that the state budget allotted this year to all teachers who have taught for 30 years or more, which softens the blow.

"The term 'raise' indicates that everyone gets a raise and the same raise, and this is absolutely not true,” Newton said. “The raises are incremental based on what year of the pay scale you are. It's different for everyone. … My concern as a veteran educator is that on the pay scale beyond year 29, there is no raise. That just discounts the value of veteran teachers and the experience that they bring to new teachers in the classroom."

"In my opinion, this is a veiled attempt to push out veteran teachers,” Newton added.

Raise discrepancy

The state budget recently passed by the N.C. General Assembly earmarked $282 million for teacher salary increases. The former pay plan for teachers has been frozen since 2008 when the recession hit.

For the newest teachers in the public education system, the raise can be as much as 11 percent, but the most experienced teachers in Haywood County will notice just a small change from what they were already making.

Saying there has been a 7-percent average increase for teachers can be deceiving when eliminating longevity is factored in, Haywood County School administrators pointed out in a recent interview.

Teachers with 10 or more years of experience were eligible for an annual longevity salary increase — a lump sum payment each year based on how long a teacher had served. But with the new budget plan, the longevity pay has been replaced by the state’s pay raise.

Longevity is applied across the board within the state salary schedule, explained Anne Garrett, superintendent for Haywood County Schools, noting school personnel are part of the state salary plan. While raises were awarded to all employees, longevity was only stricken for teachers and instructional support personnel in the public school system. Other school employees, like administrators, have kept their longevity.

The change means teachers who were never eligible for longevity will receive a significant boost this year while teachers with more than 10 years of experience will receive a salary that’s the same or slightly different than what they’ve already been making through longevity.

“If you’re an experienced teacher with 25 plus years, you’ve lost your longevity but now it becomes part of your base salary,” said Bill Nolte, associate superintendent of Haywood County Schools. “It’s not a real raise because part of it is money that you already have.”

According to the longevity scale, teachers who have 10-14 years of experience would receive a longevity payment of 1.5 percent of their salary, teachers with 15-19 years experience would receive 2.25 percent, teachers with 20-14 years experience would receive 3.25 and a teacher with 25 years or more would receive a 3.5 percent longevity payment.

“A lot of our employees have virtually the same salary if they’ve been with us more than 10 years,” Nolte added. “If two people are doing similar jobs — one could work less and get paid more because of the state.”

WMS Media Coordinator Karen Kreitzburg is one teacher who will receive nearly the same salary this year as she did last year, with a raise of only 0.29 percent.

“This is my 29th year, so according to the current pay scale I am at the top of the scale with no pay increases,” she said.

Breaking it down

The largest raises will be for Haywood teachers who have been teaching 10 years or less, with the highest raises coming to the fifth or sixth year teachers. During these years, they will receive as much as an 18.4 percent bump.

However, teachers with 29-30 years may see a raise as low as 0.002 percent.

On average, Haywood teachers with less than 10 years will receive an 11 percent increase in base pay. According to the new pay scale, teachers with 11-14 years, on average, receive a 5.5 percent raise; teachers with 15-19 years experience will receive a 6 percent raise; teachers with 20-25 years of experience receive a 7.10 percent increase and teachers with more than 25 years will see a 4.3 percent increase.

“Our teachers who’ve got 30 years got a $148 raise,” said Angie Gardner, with the Haywood County Schools finance department. “It’s hurtful for me to look at the numbers and see some of our seasoned teachers only getting $148.”

The state average teacher salary is $43,342, but the average salary for Haywood County teachers is $40,187 because almost half of Haywood’s teachers are less experienced.

“On average, those with zero to 10 years got an 11 percent pay increase and that’s 45 percent of our teachers,” said Nolte. “That is a very good raise for them, but it does not help our budget locally at all.”

For now, Haywood County School officials are planning to fund the pay raises from its fund balance so other departments that have endured large cuts will not be set back.

Teacher anxiety

The changes in the salary schedule have generated plenty of questions and mixed feelings amongst teachers. While some teachers are discouraged by their minuscule raise, others are pleased with their pay increase, but feel guilty at the same time.

Ashley Pompey, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Waynesville Middle School, received a 3 or 4 percent raise this year in her fourth year of teaching. It’s a boost she feels ambivalent about.

“It impacts me positively but I’m not sure how I feel about it because of the way it impacts the school budget overall,” Pompey said. “I’m happy I’m making more, but I think that especially when you think of the amount of responsibility the veteran teachers have, it really discounts them.”

Pompey said that the difference in raises has made it a little uncomfortable to discuss salaries with colleagues at school.

“There’s definitely a little awkwardness,” she said.

Robin Walker, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Waynesville Middle School, has been teaching for 31 years and she recently learned that her salary didn’t go up at all. However, walker will receive the $1,000 bonus from the state to make up for her not receiving a raise.

“As a veteran teacher of 31 years, I felt personal disappointment that experience and loyalty were not acknowledged or valued by our state legislature,” Walker said. “The economic impact and cost of living are the same amount for the three-year teacher, as well as the 30-year teacher. So why would you only award the three-year position a salary increase?”

Walker also said she felt disappointment for the teaching profession as a whole and expects this change will put a damper on teacher recruitment.

“Needless to say, the impact of this inadequate wage will be felt for years to come due to the unattractive face placed on the profession to seek potential future individuals to a teaching career,” Walker said.

In addition, Walker said some students would ultimately be affected by the new plan because teachers will no longer be able to purchase items from their own pockets to help support the depressed economy of families in their classrooms and school budgets.

“I have observed the personal generosity of so many colleagues through the years ensure that students have lunch and breakfast, book bags, winter coats, PE clothes, tennis shoes, day to day supplies, etc.” Walker said. “This generosity is in proportion to salary restrictions and these cuts bleed onto the most precious treasure of the education process — our students.”

Alex Masciarelli, a Spanish teacher at Waynesville Middle School, has 14 years of experience and is expecting a 4 percent raise this year. Though he is grateful, he said the pay raise should be recognized for what it really is.

“When lawmakers took away longevity pay for teachers and dumped it into our regular salary, they used it to inflate our increases,” Masciarelli said, adding that more experienced teachers should be considered more valuable.

Masciarelli said he was worried about his salary in the future when his raise would plateau, potentially making it a challenge for him to afford college for his children.

“Considering salaries had been frozen for nearly six years, this (raise) was due several years ago," he said. "This is a start in the right direction, but does not fully address it. Experience makes you a better teacher.”

Comments (36)
Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 05, 2014 07:36




Posted by: David Woody | Sep 05, 2014 10:03

Does Mrs. Masciarelli know about this "son?"  Last I knew, they had three daughters!

Posted by: jessi stone | Sep 05, 2014 10:48

David, we trust that the Masciarellis know how many children they have and they do have three girls - however, Alex specifically talked about his son going to college.

Posted by: Joe Vescovi | Sep 05, 2014 17:09

Right To Work (for lower pay) state.  As more and more workers have lost any collective representation (unions) the middle class salaries  have become more and more stagnant.  How can the single middle class worker get ahead when he/she has not representation?  They are at the mercy of the rich corporations who continue to reap more and more profits without sharing with the employees who make the products. This recession has been a windfall for the rich.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 05, 2014 17:49

Whew.  Let's break this one apart:


1) "middle class salaries  have become more and more stagnant" -- The cause of this is more welfare.  More middle class become lower class.  The recession didn't help that.  There are actually incentives to move from middle class to lower class.  We're now calling that "comfortable poverty".  Losing government assistance when someone tries to work harder to escape the low class causes most to give up and get back on welfare where it's comfortable.


2) "How can the single middle class worker get ahead when he/she has not representation?" -- The more you "get ahead", the more percentage of taxes you will pay.  You are literally penalized more as you "get ahead".  Conversely, once you drop into the "government assistance" zone, you get into the largest union in the country that can take from those not on government assistance.  That's called the Democratic Party.


3) "They are at the mercy of the rich corporations" -- We might agree on this one.  If corporations are getting "too rich", that means there ought to be plenty of opportunity for more competition and more smaller companies to start up to compete and take market share (profits) from the "rich corporations".  I suspect this might be best fixed if the FTC were to re-tool to not only prevent monopolies, but to prevent oligarchies.  That means more mom-and-pop shops and more ability to compete with Walmart and Lowes.  More people become general store and hardware store owners instead of low-wage earners at corporations.


Posted by: Joe Vescovi | Sep 05, 2014 18:36

Living on welfare is comfortable?  Seems some want to always talk about cutting out government programs that help the less fortunate.  How about objecting to the government subsidies to corporations?  I call most of the tax loopholes that allow large corporations like GE, Verizon,  Boeing etc. to not pay any taxes  "Corporate Welfare" but what politician dares do anything about that? (They have political power, the poor do not).   I see nothing wrong with the more fortunate to pay a little more to help the less fortunate in our society.  With the long lines at job fairs it is not that those getting a hand from government are not willing to work.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 05, 2014 19:12

"Living on welfare is comfortable?" -- It used to be the "poor" didn't have a phone -- much less a cell phone.  It used to be the "poor" didn't have a TV -- much less cable subscription tv service.  It used to be the "poor" didn't have pets -- much less subsidized vet care.  It used to be that the "poor" couldn't afford to see the doctor -- much less access to world class healthcare.  It used to be the "poor" saved up to buy food to survive -- much less traded EBT cards for tattoos.


Compare our "poor" to some old photos I have of my grandparents in rural West Virginia in the 1930s.  "Poor" today means something different than "poor" did yesteryear.  And there are people risking life and limb trying to enter our country illegally to be "comfortably poor".


There are legitimate needs for social welfare.  Too many abuse the system.  Unemployment peaked in 2009 or 2010:


Food stamps are STILL going up:


The predictable cycle: Republicans will eventually draw down the food stamp program and many will cry how horrible Republicans are for wanting to hurt the poor.  I don't know what the thing is that makes someone not get food stamps anymore -- but people who get food stamps know that.  And they are sure not to do whatever that is.


"With the long lines at job fairs it is not that those getting a hand from government are not willing to work." -- What's stopping these folks from opening their own floor-sweeping business?  What's stopping these folks from marketing their own crop-tending services?  What's stopping these folks from starting their own birdhouse building business?  What's stopping these folks from visiting the Haywood County Goodwill Career Connections?  (Really, that's a nice place with computers and resume services and job hunting/training resources -- go see how many unemployed people AREN'T there.)


I share your distaste for corporate welfare, Mr. Vescovi.  No right-wing, conservative, Republican can justify corporate welfare if they are true to their philosophies.  Right-wing, conservative, Republican politicians who support corporate welfare are corrupt -- or negotiating poorly with someone who is for it.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 05, 2014 19:17

"And they are sure not to do whatever that is." -- Just hire anyone who is on unemployment.  It ought to make you mad when they demand cash-only because they don't want the government knowing they earned money.  It might jeopardize their unemployment.  I know.  I hired 4 people in the last 2 years for odd jobs that did that to me.  Now I ask up front if a check is ok for payment.  Anyone who can't take a check doesn't need my money.  (What little of it I have.)

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 05, 2014 20:16

And another thing that makes me so mad I could spit fire!  I knew someone for 2 years living on the system all the while.  Never had a job for a day.  Not too long ago this person was sent to jail for drugs.  I sent them a bible, a self-help book, cash for the jail account, and counseling.  There's no indication that any of it will help.  When this person gets out of jail, I expect they will go back on government assistance.  (No, the halfway house won't help.  They have a "lifestyle" to get back to.  No, Circles of Hope won't help, I urged them to contact the Circles program before they were sent to the slammer.)


On about a third of the jobs I do (banks, refineries, manufacturing facilities, etc.) I have to have a drug test before the government takes my hard-earned money that I had to earn traveling away from my family?  Why is it that those taking my money don't have to have a drug test while sitting on their couch smoking meth?  (If that's what you do with meth.)


If "comfortable poverty" is more attractive for the druggie coming out of jail than a halfway house where drug testing is mandatory, we have a welfare system that is in dire need of change.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 06, 2014 08:49

              Once again Mr. Lilly exposes his prejudices.

               Mr. Lilly WE limited Wellfare a while back. No one can be on it for very long. As it is OUR government's responsibility to equally protect its citizens civil rights by first assuming they are not guilty of any crime, drug testing is illegal for those on Wellfare. Once employed drug testing is legal. The very small amount of fraud by those unfortunate enough to need OUR assistance is minute compared to the trillions WE lose from offshoring and other corporate schemes.

                  There is no such thing as "comfortable poverty". This is another made-up piece of nonsense easily embraced by those inclined to be biggotted to begin with. The idea that someone can go off government assistance and acquire a job to then go back to government assistance to obtain "comfortable poverty" is pure nonsense and not supported by facts.

                 Mr. Lilly you have shown no knowledge of how OUR government assistance programs work or the requirements that must be met by those asking for OUR help. You have only shown ignorance to the issue. And something else. You admitted to employing persons on Government assistance and paying them in cash even though they  and you were required to report such employment/payment to US. This is a crime. You might consider turning yourself in before the Feds knock on your door.

              No I'm not kidding. You admitted to a crime. A Federal crime. Against US. You need to correct this immediately. Don't think those in law enforcement aren't reading what you wrote. Again you admitted to participating in a crime. Apparently several times including several individuals.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 06, 2014 09:53

"This is a crime." -- Please state statutes.


Mr. Zimmerman, you're good for providing comic relief!  You're an excellent representation of the Democratic Party.  Please, don't ever stop writing.  :-)


Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 06, 2014 10:17

One of the GREAT reasons this forum is so much superior to Facebook.... NC General Statue 14-47.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 06, 2014 11:06

             Mr. Lilly;


             So now after admitting to breaking OUR laws you threaten me!

             That is really smart.


              When the IRS agents come knocking, you can all have a big laugh. For a while. Fraud is fraud.

               Did you withhold for these folks that you claim were on govt assistance?

                Did you report the cash payment on your income statements?

                Etc. Etc.


                You admitted to what I then pointed out in more clarity.

                 At the least you should be ashamed at yourself.




Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 06, 2014 11:36

"You admitted to a crime. A Federal crime. ... Again you admitted to participating in a crime. Apparently several times including several individuals."


This isn't Facebook.  Per NCGS 14-47, what federal law, Mr. Zimmerman, do you say I admitted to breaking?  Please be specific.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 07, 2014 10:25

             Just as WE the people require those who accept OUR support to abide by certain and particular rules and regulations, so too do WE require anyone who employs them.

              There are several local, state and federal agencies who should have been alerted and or reported to from the first time money changed hands for employment. That was your responsibility as an employer.



Posted by: John C Sanderson | Sep 07, 2014 20:08

It's a shame this comment thread has strayed so far from the original article about the ridiculous [my word] discrepancies in "raises" given to NC teachers, and how the state is quite obviously discounting the value of teacher experience in education. There are so many distressing elements in the state's current "reform strategies" that they can hardly be addressed properly in a limited forum like this. In my estimation, however, members of the voting public need to study articles and reports such as this one, ask questions of our elected officials, and think deeply about what kind of school system they want in North Carolina before they cast their votes in November.


After reading this piece, some questions that readily come to my mind:

1. Do we want a school system in NC that seems to value teachers until approximately their 15th year in education, but that then sees them as increasingly overpriced liabilities as they approach 20-25 years in service and beyond?

2. Do we want a system that supposedly "encourages" the best and brightest teacher candidates to devote their professional lives to education by paying them a starting salary that is still (even after the raises beginning teachers will realize) about $7,000 less than the national average salary for beginning teachers ... AND that arbitrarily caps their salary at $50,000 after 25 years of teaching? I mean, what bright, energetic, motivated young professional wannabe would not literally jump at the opportunity to enter a profession that will allow them to make all of $50,000 per year for as many years as they care to work beyond 25 years - but never a cent more, no matter what? I'm sure the medical schools, law schools, and business schools are muttering curses at the legislature for creating such a sure fire method of attracting the best and brightest away from them and into schools of education. [Hopefully, my sarcasm was readily detectable in those last two sentences.]

3. Do we want an education system that is increasingly characterized by uncertainty in funding and commitment from those with a CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATION to provide for a free and equitable public education system that offers equal opportunities to all? Veteran teachers received phony "raises" by shifting their longevity pay to their base pay, but the legislature approved another $850,000 for vouchers to be used in private schools with virtually no accountability for how those taxpayer dollars are spent. Textbook funding is all but nonexistent. The legislature eliminated automatic increases in funding to school systems that have increases in student population. And so on. This is "commitment" to public education???

4. Do we want a public education system that is little more than a political football to be pulled out and kicked around when it is the right season (i.e., "election season"), and then shelved until it is politically expedient to kick around again?


Bottom Line: Do we want a second- or third-rate public school system in NC? Seriously, is that what the people of NC want? Well, unless something changes, it is exactly what the people of NC are going to get.


Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 08, 2014 06:51

It is impossible and even improper for a public school system (a basic education) to define what "education" ought to mean for every student.  What some consider to be "educated" might not be what another deems as such.  I know that my philosophy differs from Common Core.  But just as everybody can't be "healthy" to a "first rate" standard, everybody can't be "educated" to a first rate standard.  No amount of spending will change that.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 08, 2014 08:25

                No industry of work would institute such a scheme.

                No political body dedicated to the equal protection of its constituents while valuing the contributions of yearly experience would institute such a scheme either.

                Why would We expect OUR teachers to abide by any such nonsense?

                 Guidance counselors help students define and determine their needs within the school system. We the people thru OUR elected representatives determine the composition of OUR public schools curriculum. Not everyone agrees. They are absolutely free to home school on their dime. But as OUR Founders required no public taxes should be used to "represent" opinions differing from what WE agree to.

                    The current N.C. mccrory led legislators have shown no respect for OUR constitution nor OUR teaches nor US or OUR "posterity".



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 08, 2014 11:48

It would be impossible for everyone to call our social security, Medicaid/medicare/ACA, and public education standard "first-rate".  "Minimum Standard Education" ought to have as an objective an education to achieve some minimum lifestyle.  If most students that graduate high school cannot list the 3 branches of government and the purpose of each, then I say the "minimum standard" is deficient.  And if we throw such resources at the "minimum standard" and cannot even produce a student body that can list the 3 branches of government and the purpose of each, then the argument can be made that the "education system" known as "public education" is broken -- not underfunded.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 08, 2014 16:36

                Nonsense! Just more unsubstantiated crap.

                 The N.C. Carolina constitution requires We the people support a free public education. We need to spend whatever amount that is necessary.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 08, 2014 17:23

We already support a free public education.  We offer opportunity for everyone to graduate our free public school system.  That's the law and we follow the law.  What's being discussed is if we should do MORE than the law requires.  Not only do we want a free public school system, some want a first-rate free public school system.  And I'm sure others will want a national-leader free public school system.  And if you look hard enough, someone will even tell us they want "the best" free public school system.  There's no limit to what can be demanded.  We could double our educational budget and it wouldn't be enough to make every kid learn to the best of their ability.


As Al Sharpton said, what's too much for one is too little for another.  That might be one of the wisest things ever to come out of his mouth.


If We The People could elect to take whatever per-pupil student funding and apply that to the school of our choice, wouldn't that open up all kinds of opportunities?  And if that benefited the students, who would complain about that?  If a student had a desire to be an artist and showed artistic talent, they could choose a school that had strong art classes.  Or if someone wanted to be a mechanic, they could go to a high school that had the best auto-shop classes.  All of a sudden, a high school education might start to be worth something -- instead of going to post high-school education to get some kind of training.  My grandparents told me of the day where high school taught them skills to earn a living.  High schools today don't even produce children (on average) that understand how to vote.  That's the minimum premise for having a free and public education.  If they fail that challenge, we ought to just accept a fifth-rate education and we'd be no worse off.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 08, 2014 17:26

               More nonsense.



Posted by: John C Sanderson | Sep 08, 2014 17:59

Mr. Lilly, you are just talking in circles here, and it is all but impossible to respond logically to your suppositions, assumptions, and non sequiturs. But I'll give it a shot.


"Education" for a budding Morehead Scholar is no doubt significantly different from "education" for a student with multiple learning disabilities. Public schools attempt to provide students from one end of the cognitive ability spectrum to the other with a sound, "basic education" that will allow every student to make the best use of his or her abilities in young adulthood and beyond. Using solid research to determine curricular goals and standards is hardly impossible or "improper" (I have to chuckle at that one).


You say "[you] know that [your] philosophy differs from Common Core." If your philosophy holds that societies do not establish certain expectations for those they will honor and recognize as "successful," then I guess it is at odds with Common Core, because one of the clearly stated intentions of CC is "to establish academic standards that are aligned to the expectations of colleges, workforce training programs, and employers." So, if you think public schools are doing a disservice to students by trying to prepare them for the expectations they are going to encounter upon graduation, then you probably want to continue to homeschool your children and stay away from the public schools. But honestly, Mr. Lilly, I don't think you have even a rudimentary understanding of what the Common Core Standards are, how they were established, or how they are being implemented. Some of your comments on other threads indicate a woeful lack of understanding of CC.


"But just as everybody can't be 'healthy' to a 'first rate' standard, everybody can't be 'educated' to a first rate standard.  No amount of spending will change that."

Where to even begin...


Okay, Mr. Lilly, there will always be sick and diseased folks, and no amount of spending is going to change that fact. Likewise, there will always be children with learning disabilities and personal challenges who will not thrive in any sort of academic setting. But seriously, Mr. Lilly, are you suggesting that the efforts to provide a first-rate health care delivery system should be scrapped because people are always going to be sick? And are you making the likewise ridiculous suggestion that efforts to provide a first-rate education delivery system (i.e., a FIRST-RATE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM) should be scrapped because there will always be "underachievers?" It is absolutely true that no amount of money invested in anything is guaranteed to result in perfect outcomes. But one of the old saws I've heard through most of my life says something to the effect that "you get what you pay for." So, if we want sorry schools, then simply underpay and devalue the key people - the teachers. And like I said earlier, if that's what NC wants, then that's what it is going to get, unless something changes. But you don't seem to care.


Finally, allow me to say that you create the distinct impression that you have little, if any, respect for public schools in NC. That is only my perception, admittedly, but I can't imagine I'm too far off in drawing that conclusion. You leave a lot unsaid in your final post above, but the clear implication is that you think public schools in NC are "broken" and undeserving of funding. Maybe you have had some bad experiences with public schools in the past, but I am telling you straight up that Haywood County has some excellent schools, and it has some excellent teachers. I am quite confident, as well, that every school system in NC has some excellent schools and excellent teachers, too. I am prejudiced, no doubt, but I do speak from personal experience.


Teachers in Haywood County and across the state - especially veteran teachers - deserved to be treated better than they were treated in this budget - PERIOD. Haywood County schools are not "broken," and they do not waste taxpayer dollars, and I believe that is true of most public schools across the state. No enterprise or organization is perfect, and there is always room for improvement, but the way to create and maintain a FIRST-RATE organization is hardly to starve it of necessary resources, as seems to be the intent of this legislature when it comes to our public schools. Now, you may be fine with all that, but I am not. Public schools are a bedrock institution in our American society, and these ill-conceived efforts to limit our state's investment in the honest and sincere efforts of the dedicated professionals who perform an increasingly challenging and thankless public service are going to hurt this state for years to come.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 08, 2014 19:05

Thank you, Mr. Sanderson, for your intelligent points.  I will reply:


"Public schools attempt to provide students from one end of the cognitive ability spectrum to the other with a sound, "basic education" that will allow every student to make the best use of his or her abilities in young adulthood and beyond." -- A sound basic education is what is prescribed.  The premise for providing a basic education was for the basic objective for having intelligent voters.  Clearly we have failed that premise.  It's not money that will fix that.


"So, if you think public schools are doing a disservice to students by trying to prepare them for the expectations they are going to encounter upon graduation, then you probably want to continue to homeschool your children and stay away from the public schools." -- I think public schools do a disservice because they want to rate children more than teach them.  My daughter in homeschool has advanced a year ahead of where she would be in public schools per the state-proctored standardized test.  That's because we TEACH our children.  I'd be willing to bet if teachers were given more freedom to teach as they were trained, they'd be almost as successful teaching children as we have been able to do with no training.  When politicians come up with things that lump more people together, the "minimum standard" (ie..Common Core) becomes the new measure of success.  I have nothing to do with Common Core - that's the beauty of it.  Let the bloated public school system that can't even reliably turn out students that know the 3 branches of government and the purposes of them have that system.


"And are you making the likewise ridiculous suggestion that efforts to provide a first-rate education delivery system should be scrapped because there will always be "underachievers?" -- I am saying that there is nobody qualified to decide what "first-rate" is.  No matter who sets the limit and 100% funds it, there will always be someone that says there ought to be "more" and therefore more funding to it.  Kind of like the TDA tax.  They want "more" without saying why that want more other than to spend more.  There is no constitutional requirement that we provide a "first-rate" education system.  That's what's called "gold plating".  I can make the assertion that a lesser-funded fifth-rate educational system can turn out high school graduates that don't know the 3 branches of government just as effectively as a first-rate school system.  (Or whatever we've had in the last 15 years.)  It's not funding that is the problem.


"But you don't seem to care." -- I care more than you know.  (Or could know)  And likely for some surprising reasons.  But this isn't about me.


"I am prejudiced, no doubt, but I do speak from personal experience." -- I am not prejudiced.  I have had children attend 3 different public school systems.  And I have heard that Haywood Schools are better than most.  Quite honestly, I wouldn't doubt that.  I've seen more good teachers than bad ones.  I've seen poor administrations have negative impact on most every teacher's motivations and morale.  I know that the public school system will get my children a basic education as determined by them.  I find that basic education lacking -- or more accurately stated, we can do better.  I know that when politicians make policies like "no child left behind", that's going to mean some children will get more of the share of the teacher's time and talent -- not to my child's benefit.  When I react negatively to public education, mostly it stems from a debate on money and control.  If I pay a financial advisor to put my money in a good place, if they don't put my money in a good place I don't give them more money and control.


"veteran teachers - deserved to be treated better than they were treated in this budget - PERIOD" -- I might agree with you -- if we had a use for them.  Veteran teachers used to have tenure because their teaching experience was more valuable than that of the administration.  Now, they must conform or else.


If a student graduates from public school without knowing the 3 branches of government and the purposes of each, the student failed to learn the basic knowledge that legitimized the free public schools system.  Take your own poll of a graduating high school student population.  Tell us your results.  Tell us if Haywood County is any different than what I find elsewhere.


I don't quite fully understand where this legislature is going with education.  But breaking up a monopolistic enterprise can only be good for students and teachers.  More choice of education and more choice of employers.  When you have choice, people naturally will gravitate toward what's best.  That will happen with students choosing and teachers choosing.  I wish the current legislature would have the courage to clearly tell us where they are going with this.


Mr. Sanderson, thank you again for your writing.

Posted by: John C Sanderson | Sep 08, 2014 19:10

In response to Mr. Lilly's comment immediately above, I have to express my complete agreement with Mr. Zimmerman:



Yes, Mr. Lilly, the audacity of "some" suggesting that we should have a "FIRST-RATE" public education system is too much to bear, isn't it? Will the demands upon your fragile taxpayer wallet never cease from people like me? I'm sure the thousands of parents I have worked with over the years in multiple school settings would have been thrilled to hear me say at the PTA meetings that we were aiming to have a FIFTH-RATE SCHOOL .... but not to worry, because the school is still FREE.

Aspiring to be the best possible is a bad thing? You and I must live in different dimensions.


I will never apologize for desiring anything less than a FIRST-RATE educational system and experience for every child in N.C., and I take offense at your implication that the children of NC deserve anything less than the best that this state can provide for them when it comes to education. And NO, Mr. Lilly, no one is suggesting that anything should be done that exceeds what the "law" requires - the "law" in this case being the N.C. Constitution. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the Leandro decision before you start spouting personal opinions that are at odds with the decision rendered by the N.C. Supreme Court in 1997.


Finally, Mr. Lilly, enough with the "high schools are failures because graduates don't know how government operates" meme you have been subjecting us to repeatedly. Okay, high school students should have a better understanding of how our government operates, but that doesn't mean the high schools are "failures." It means that choices have been made for a variety of reasons about what is taught and when it is taught. Civics courses generally are taught in 9th grade. Is that a good or a bad idea? I don't know, and you should feel perfectly free to call up your local school board and complain about the lack of Civics classes for twelfth graders. But don't call schools "failures" because some kids get the executive and the legislative branches of government mixed up when tested in 12th grade. It seems to me, by the way, that plenty of elected officials in Washington get those two branches of government mixed up on a daily basis, and they're right in the middle of it all.


Criticize all you like, but at least try to be fair in your criticisms.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 08, 2014 21:04

"The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate." - Thomas Jefferson


At the highest level of analysis, the purpose and interest of public education is to serve our democratic-republic well.  That's it.  If there's only one objective of a free public education, the self-preservation of the government system that provides the free public education is what that objective must be.  I hope I do not have to debate that point further.


Now, if the free public education cannot even reliably produce graduates that can understand the system of government that affords them the Liberty they enjoy, it must be expected that we will demise in both the quality of candidate running for public office and those that lend their voting support to them.  What difference will it make if our math scores improve if generation after generation, we elect people to office that are less qualified and cognizant of how the government can and should be run?


We are a relatively young country.  How long would it take for some fundamental government blunders to compound and be more than the United States can survive?  Allowing "anyone" to vote -- not just "property owners" that have some vested interest in electing smart people to run the government?  The US dollar going off the gold standard?  Instituting the largest Ponzi scheme known to man: social security?  Making We The People buy things like flood insurance and health insurance against our will?  Running up the country's debt so much that it cannot be repaid in at least a generation?  Having a two-party system where the two parties cannot even define themselves with integrity -- and the general voting population cannot hold them accountable because they can't define them either?!


If the American public has a 6% favorable opinion of Congress (the actual percentage is debatable), the statement can be made that 94% of Americans believe (1) politicians are not educated enough, and/or (2) the people who votes those candidates into office are not educated enough.


It will not take more money to have graduates of the free public school system understand what's necessary to preserve and improve our democratic-republic.  In this video example of what I'm talking about -- that's what our free public education should counter.  It's more important to all of us than math.


Mr. Sanderson, take the energy and commitment you have into demanding more money for public schools and convert that into finding a way to have our school graduates informed to care for our democratic-republic.


Finally, I think we can have more of an effective first-rate school system if choices in schools for students and employers for teachers become more prevalent.  I fear, sir, you only want to consider your own opinion and attempt to smear the person making any contrary proposition and not consider the position itself. 


You and I agree on your last point.  Even some of those in Washington even lack the understanding of the government they are part of administering!  Unfortunately, uneducated voters cannot see the incompetence through their own lack of understanding.  The debate specifically on the role of public education and how school choice could improve it is worth having.  (And not a "debate question" for politicians that they are expected to answer off the cuff in 2 minutes or less.)


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 09, 2014 08:13

       This is clearly untrue of Mr. Sanderson:

       "I fear, sir, you only want to consider your own opinion and attempt to smear the person making any contrary proposition and not consider the position itself."

          He has gone out of his way to politely and intelligently respond to your assine comments.

          Mr. Lilly assassinates himself with most every post and incredulously blames those that point it out.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 09, 2014 09:17

                Anyone who has followed the history of tillis/pope/mccrory is quite well informed as to their stated intentions. They intend to defund public schools in order to fund private for profit and/or charter schools. There are certain and particular reasons for this. pope/koch brothers and others in arms with them own private schools. They are also aligned with the right wing religionists that don't want evolution taught and would allow prosylitizing. And the home-schoolers that don't want their kids in OUR public schools or to meet OUR requirements as to what constitutes a proper education. All want OUR tax money. They claim "taxes should follow the child".

                We the people long ago decided and did established that a "uniform" type of public education was necessary as required by the N.C. constitution. By the means of OUR federal constitution proselytizing is forbidden(NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!) The N.C. Religious clause forbids interferance with "conscience". Religionist do not agree and want to be free to disobey OUR laws. And! They want US to pay for their digressions.

                      Clearly the current mccrory/pope/tillis administration wants to eliminate experienced teachers in order to recruit new ones more aligned with their political philosophy. This would end tenure and progressive pay increases for experience. It has resulted in OUR teachers changing employment with many either teaching elsewhere in another state or not teaching at all. And! It throws away the invested interest We the taxpayers of N.C. have in OUR teachers. And! Their schemes have been found to be unconstitutional previously as most likely will this one.

                        Make no mistake about it, We the people are responsible for OUR public schools. And as a republic anyone showing harm done can challenge any legislative action.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 10, 2014 16:34

Just to close the loop on this topic:


"Did you withhold for these folks that you claim were on govt assistance?  Did you report the cash payment on your income statements? You admitted to (a crime) I then pointed out in more clarity."


-- If Mr. Zimmerman had specified falsely what crime I was guilty, that would have provided a newspaper forum libelous content.  Mr. Zimmerman would have to prove (1) that I had a household employee, (2) that indeed I crossed a threshold of paying someone enough to be required to report it, and (3) that I didn't report the payments.  Instead, it was a generic reference to a "crime".  (Against humanity perhaps?  Against his ethics or something?)




Point of the follow-up: This forum is semi-formal.  It is a newspaper forum.  Making false accusations about people isn't smart -- especially to a newspaper.  NC law says this:


§ 14-47.  Communicating libelous matter to newspapers.

If any person shall state, deliver or transmit by any means whatever, to the manager, editor, publisher or reporter of any newspaper or periodical for publication therein any false and libelous statement concerning any person or corporation, and thereby secure the publication of the same, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.


Summary: Be nice.


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 10, 2014 17:26

         Mr. lilly;


          It was you who admitted to "Just hire anyone who is on unemployment.  It ought to make you mad when they demand cash-only because they don't want the government knowing they earned money.  It might jeopardize their unemployment.  I know.  I hired 4 people in the last 2 years for odd jobs that did that to me.  Now I ask up front if a check is ok for payment."



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 10, 2014 17:29

Yup.  I admitted no crime in doing so.  That was your accusation, sir.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 10, 2014 17:34

From the referenced article:


The "nanny tax" rules apply to you only if (1) you pay someone for household work and (2) that worker is your employee.

  1. A household employee is someone who does work in or around your home. Examples of household employees include baby sitters, nannies, health aides, private nurses, maids, caretakers, yard workers, and similar domestic workers.

  2. A household worker is your employee if you can control not only what work is done, but how it is done. If the worker is your employee, it does not matter whether the work is full time or part time, or that you hired the worker through an agency or from a list provided by an agency or association. It also does not matter whether you pay the worker on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, or by the job.

    On the other hand, if only the worker can control how the work is done, the worker is not your employee, but is self-employed. A self-employed worker usually provides his or her own tools and offers services to the general public in an independent business. If an agency provides the worker and controls what work is done and how it is done, the worker is not your employee.

Example: You pay Betty to babysit your child and do light housework four days a week in your home. Betty follows your specific instructions about household and child care duties. You provide the household equipment and supplies that Betty needs to do her work. Betty is your household employee.

Example: You pay John to care for your lawn. John also offers lawn care services to other homeowners in your neighborhood. He provides his own tools and supplies, and he hires and pays any helpers he needs. Neither John nor his helpers are your household employees.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 10, 2014 17:36

Also from the referenced article:


If you: Pay cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2014 to any one household employee. The you need to: Withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.

If you: Pay total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2013 or 2014 to household employees. Then you need to: Pay federal unemployment tax.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 10, 2014 18:22

             Nice try. No cigar.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Sep 10, 2014 18:28

                 Mr. lilly;


                  I am done with you.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Sep 10, 2014 18:44

Have a great evening, Mr. Zimmerman!

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