Opinion

3 things N.C. can do for schools: Revisit an important teacher perk

The Observer editorial board

N.C. lawmakers have another opportunity to strengthen schools when the legislature begins its short session Monday.
N.C. lawmakers have another opportunity to strengthen schools when the legislature begins its short session Monday. rwillett@newsobserver.com

The legislative short session, which begins Monday, gives lawmakers a new chance to strengthen schools. The Observer editorial board offers three items that should be on their checklists. Our second:

No. 2: Revisit teacher tenure

We’ve never quite understood what North Carolina gained in 2013 when Republicans began phasing out tenure protections offered to public school teachers.

Those protections were not the “can’t-be-fired” tenure that most people associate with the term. Teachers were merely guaranteed the right to a hearing and a chance to defend themselves from dismissal. Bad teachers could still be disciplined and dismissed.

This is a good time to revisit the issue. Last week, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled that tenure couldn’t be taken away from teachers who had already earned it. It was good news for those educators, but also a reminder of all the ways they seem to be devalued by lawmakers.

As long as lawmakers are considering how to make our state more attractive to teachers, why not consider a perk that’s meaningful to those educators?

The first item on the checklist: Real raises for educators.

The last item on the checklist: Explore a controversial pilot program.

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