School board goes redBoard supports NCAE in battle against teacher contracts
The Haywood County Education Center in Clyde was filled with the color red Monday evening when dozens of local teachers and administrators wore red to the board meeting as a way to show support of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
The NCAE is currently rounding up support throughout the state to oppose the new teacher contracts, a provision of a new education law passed by the N.C. General Assembly that has been deemed “demoralizing” to teachers.
“As a former teacher and principal, I commend all of you for coming and taking a stand,” board member Lynn Milner told the meeting attendants. “I appreciate you, and it’s an insult what the legislature is doing.”
The new education law eliminates teacher tenure and only offers four-year teaching contracts that include annual $500 raises to 25 percent of teachers who have worked three consecutive years in the same school district and have earned a "proficient" job rating.
The Haywood County School Board was unanimous in its decision to support the NCAE, and signed a resolution opposing the faculty contracts.
The resolution requests that the General Assembly rescind all provisions of the law that eliminate career status for those teachers who have been awarded career status, and to restore career status to those teachers who have a vested right to career status.
“... This school system has far more than 25 percent of its teachers that deserve a merit-based pay raise given the excellent services they provide to our students; and therefore, the 25 percent mandate process is divisive, inequitable and demeaning to our teachers,” the resolution states.
The school board takes no official position toward eliminating career status for teachers who have yet to obtain it, but according to the signed resolution, the board believes that removing career status from teachers who have already earned it violates their rights, and is therefore considered unconstitutional.
Litigation is currently pending against the law, which prohibited local boards of education from conferring career status, or tenure, for any additional teachers on Aug. 1, 2013. The law will completely eliminate career status by 2018.
The resolution also questions the legality of divesting teachers of their career status, and states that the 25 percent mandate fails as a merit-based pay initiative because teachers had no prior notice of the criteria necessary to earn additional compensation.
The resolution also states the 25 percent mandate could threaten and disrupt the collaborative friendly and stable teaching and learning environments that have been proven to be critical to higher levels of student performance.
Board member Bob Morris, who is also a parent of Haywood County students, said paying only 25 percent of Haywood teachers was nowhere near enough.
“If I had to choose the top 25 percent, every single one of my kids teachers would be one of them,” Morris said. “Politics is politics, but we’ve got something good. When you’ve got good teachers, take care of them."
Board member Jimmy Rogers said he was grateful to see so much teacher support of the NCAE.
“As you can see this board wants to support you as well for the great job you’re doing in our schools,” Rogers said. “I agree with Mr. Morris — 25 percent is not good enough for me either.”