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McCrory launches teacher advisory committee

CARY Gov. Pat McCrory launched a teacher advisory group Tuesday that he charged with making recommendations on issues such as teacher pay, testing and technology.

At a meeting at the SAS campus in Cary, he asked the group to keep in mind the needs of businesses looking for educated workers.

“This is an issue that’s going to determine the future of our state and the future of our jobs,” he said.

McCrory said improving education was “not a Democratic or Republican issue,” but public education has become a flashpoint for McCrory and the Republican legislature.

The first meeting of the advisory committee – 24 K-12 teachers from across the state – was held the day after teachers and parents around the state protested per-pupil spending that has fallen to near the bottom of national rankings and low teacher pay.

Even SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, in his short welcome to committee members, said he hoped the legislature “will find some money to pay you a little bit more. Some of the salary data is not very good.”

McCrory said later he agreed with Goodnight, saying he wants to “determine the best method” of compensating teachers.

Recent experience suggests politicians don’t always follow teachers’ and administrators’ advice, even when it’s solicited.

This year, House Speaker Thom Tillis invited teachers and administrators to public meetings in the House chamber in February. Teachers talked about low morale, low pay and the importance of tenure. Superintendents urged legislators not to adopt a voucher program that gives parents taxpayer money to send their children to private schools.

A few months later, the state adopted a budget that included no raise for teachers, phased out teacher tenure, started a voucher program and ended salary supplements for teachers who earn advanced degrees.

McCrory has been dogged by those decisions. While McCrory told state business leaders of his proposals to ease the state testing regime and give 1,000 teachers $10,000 stipends by redirecting federal Race to the Top money a few months ago, teachers protested outside.

The teacher advisory committee is one of several sources to which McCrory is turning for ideas. He mentioned that he’s talking to superintendents, and he has K-12, N.C. Pre-K, community college, UNC system, and independent college leaders working on joint proposals.

Eric Guckian, McCrory’s senior education adviser, said the administration will consider all the recommendations as it develops a long-term plan for education.

Despite the public attention evidenced by more than a half-dozen news cameras, “this is not a show,” Guckian told the committee. “I think we can all agree that we’re here for our students. We have to get it right for our state.”

Bonner: 919-829-4821; Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner
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