Cabarrus

It’s time to support the teachers

Thank you, county commissioners!

Cabarrus County has been the subject of stories published in the main sections of The Charlotte Observer in recent weeks for an awesome reason:

We are to have our library hours restored, their credibility assured, all thanks to intelligent, socially-minded decisions by our county commissioners.

It’s a wonderful thing to have headlines about your home appear in newspapers when they make you proud of where you live and the direction its future is taking.

This made me think about the kinds of headlines I would love to see about Cabarrus County in the next year. When I saw that the Observer had also produced such a wish list, I wondered: What would readers of our country like to see happen in the headlines?

I, for one, would love to see headlines about parents in our county. I’d love to see those parents demanding the Legislature actively support our public schools.

How about headlines and stories demonstrating that Cabarrus County’s parents are consistently, continually and enthusiastically supportive of our teachers?

Here’s my sad experience: During the more than two decades I’ve lived here, I have seen no substantive improvement on this important measure of communal commitment to public education.

Let’s take another look at the current state of affairs for our educators.

Teachers in this state, according to most recent measures, still rank at the bottom in our entire nation in terms of pay. Low pay is pushing teachers out of the profession or, sometimes, into states that respect their teachers by offering better salaries.

State funding for public schools has dropped precipitously in recent history (by $170 million between 2008 and 2013), and the state’s guarantee for more funding when projections on enrollment rise has been canceled and dismissed.

Please don’t point to Gov. Pat McCrory’s so-called raise of 7 percent for teachers. Stephen Sawchuck, writing for Education Week (see http://bit.ly/1InQh9Z), notes that the money will not be evenly distributed: Some teachers of certain subjects and in certain schools will get more than others. “Longevity pay” stipends are wrapped back into base salaries (that’s an increase?).

Pay boosts for teachers will arrive every five years rather than annually, and veteran teachers will, potentially, receive a 1 percent raise for their dedication after years of pay stagnation.

According to report by Mark Binker for WRAL (see http://bit.ly/1xQdaAl), the 7 percent “increase” actually means the legislature put 7 percent more money into the budget (not into everyone’s pay).

That doesn’t necessarily translate into an average of 7 percent in teacher pay raises, because there are also more teachers to be paid.

One teacher I know spends so much money on supplies for her classroom that she might as well be taking a pay cut from the little she does earn.

Where are our parents in all this? Mostly dropping their kids off, expecting the teachers to raise them as well as teach them, and more likely to complain rather than compliment.

They remain indifferent or distracted rather than take up their responsibility to advocate for our teachers –and, I must add – for their children. Advocating for the former is advocating for the latter, folks.

Are parents in Cabarrus County bothering their lawmakers to remind them that teachers perform one of the most critical jobs society offers? To ask them to redress the woes our legislature has added to their list of troubles?

Parents: How about making some headlines we can be proud of?

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