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Teacher law not needed, should go

Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. lawmakers are revisiting giving all teachers a much-needed pay raise. As the short legislative session gets under way this week, they should revisit another poor decision from last year – a law that ends teachers’ career status and substitutes it with a plan that gives the “top 25 percent” of the state’s teachers four-year contracts and $500 bonuses.

The teacher pay plan McCrory is proposing – if lawmakers approve it – might force a change anyway. In addition to giving teachers an immediate pay boost, his plan calls for replacing the current teacher compensation structure with a plan that raises all pay and offers teachers $3,000 pay increases every three years, plus more based on factors such as willingness to teach high-need subjects, teaching in high-need schools and taking on leadership roles.

Lawmakers should junk this law regardless. It’s unnecessary. Bad teachers could be fired before this law. The system only guaranteed them a hearing.

Last month, a Superior Court judge in Greensboro suspended the law in Guilford and Durham counties where lawsuits were filed. The judge clarified Friday that his injunction does not extend to other counties. Still, school systems statewide overwhelmingly disapprove of the law, with superintendents saying there’s no fair way to designate a top 25 percent when the majority of teachers do good work.

During the short session, lawmakers should ditch this law. It’s wasting taxpayer dollars in litigation.

A prayer for openness

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James sent this tweet out last Wednesday:

“Had a good discussion in closed session about the change in prayer rules & movement towards sectarian prayers ‘in Jesus’ name’ #meckbocc”

Wait, what’s that? Mecklenburg commissioners felt the need to meet secretly to discuss the prayers they have before meetings? Isn’t that something that could, and probably should, be discussed in front of the public who will be listening to those prayers?

State open meetings law says all government meetings are open to the public, but closed sessions are allowed for a handful of reasons. Those include things like personnel discussions and crafting incentive packages to recruit companies to town.

Another is to consult with their attorney about judicial actions.

That, James told the Observer editorial board, was the justification to talk about prayer in secret. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in a case out of New York, and a case is pending in Rowan County.

We don’t question that the commissioners had a legal right to do what they did. But it just points to the fact that that exemption in the open meetings law is pretty broad. Mecklenburg County has not been sued over prayer before meetings, but commissioners can map out their stance on this very public policy in private under the rubric of getting legal advice.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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