Raleigh, N.C. — Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger would do away with tenure for public school teachers under broad education reform plan he filed Tuesday.
Under the measure, experienced, well-performing teachers could be put on four-year contracts, while less experienced educators or teachers who are not performing up to standard would be placed on shorter contracts.
"What we're concerned about is the incentives that are out there and trying to make sure we have incentives for folks to excel as much as possible," Berger, R-Rockingham, said during a news conference.
A place-holder provision in his bill allows for the continued development of pay-for-performance rules that were put in place during the last legislative session. In legislation passed last year, lawmakers ordered the state Department of Public Instruction and local school districts to develop teacher evaluation plans. Berger said those plans should be turned in by the end of this year. His bill calls for using those evaluation schemes in awarding bonuses to teachers.
"It would be my understanding and my thought that, to the extent that we're paying for excellence, there would be additional dollars for that, and I don't see there be any push for reducing the dollars that teachers are currently making," Berger said.
He said the state would need to move cautiously on putting the pay-for-performance plan in place. Agreements signed with the federal government to reap "Race to the Top" funds may require the U.S. Department of Education to sign off any changes to teacher pay before they're put in place.
The North Carolina Association of Educators took issue with the bill Tuesday.
"Students need smaller class sizes, professional educators that are given the time and flexibility to teach, parents and communities that support educators and their schools," said NCAE President Rodney Ellis. "This bill takes away fairness, eliminates due process for teachers, and will make it harder to recruit quality people to enter the profession. Educators deserve better than punitive labeling, or a bill that is designed to erode public confidence. We do not accept the premise that public schools are failing."
The major provisions in Senate Bill 361 are not new. Rather, they are pieces of legislation Berger introduced during the 2011 legislative session that did not become law.
Other provisions of the bill include:
- Allowing state employees to volunteer for school literacy programs for up to five hours per month.
- Requiring all end-of-year tests, other than Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, to be administered during the last 10 days of the school year or the final five days of a semester-long course.
- Adding a measure of whether schools are meeting their student achievement growth goals to a school grading system that is due to go into effect this year. The combination of the two measures, Berger said, will help parents tell good schools from bad ones.
- Requiring the legislature to approve any new tests associated with the Common Core curriculum schools are putting in place before schools can buy the exams.
- Adding teacher licensing requirements and professional development opportunities dealing with teaching reading skills.
Berger said he expected the bill to be heard in the Senate Education Committee sometime during the next month. Big pieces of his 2011 education reform package were rolled into that year's state budget.