@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

NCAE lawsuit challenges elimination of teacher tenure

Posted December 17, 2013

— The North Carolina Association of Educators is continuing its legal challenges to laws adopted by the General Assembly this year.

A week after filing a lawsuit over the state's new voucher program to help low-income students attend private schools, the teachers organization and six individual teachers on Tuesday filed a lawsuit over a provision in the state budget that eliminated the "career status" protections afforded to veteran teachers.

“Career status repeal is part of a full frontal assault by the legislative majority on public education in North Carolina,” NCAE President Rodney Ellis said in a statement. “It’s part of a full frontal assault on the teachers, the children, the families and the future of our state. No wonder teachers are leaving our state in droves.”

Under career status, commonly referred to as tenure, teachers were given extra due process rights, including the right to a hearing if they were disciplined or fired.

Bill Harrison, a former chairman of the State Board of Education, said legislative leaders are relying on a common misconception about tenure to build support for the move.

“The notion that career status makes it impossible to get rid of under-performing teachers is a myth,” Harrison said in a statement. “We need to be concerned about keeping the excellent teachers we have.”

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who initially crafted the tenure elimination proposal, and House Speaker Thom Tillis quickly labeled the lawsuit "frivolous," noting that teachers will now be rewarded for job performance instead of having a tenure system that "fosters mediocrity and discourages excellence."

Rich Nixon, Johnston County teacher Teachers argue they earned tenure rights and shouldn't lose them

“By filing another frivolous lawsuit, the union has made its blueprint clear: ‘If at first you don’t succeed at the polls, then sue, sue again,’" Berger and Tillis said in a statement. "While union leaders are focused on succeeding in the courtroom, we’ll remain focused on our children succeeding in the classroom.”

Several Triangle-area teachers are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit: Brian Link, who teaches at East Chapel Hill High School, Rich Nixon, who teaches in Johnston County, and Rhonda Holmes, who teaches in Northampton County.

Link, who worked as a lawyer in New York before getting into teaching, said he chose to work in North Carolina instead of Florida because of this state's career protections for teachers.

"I believed this state respected and valued its teachers,” he said in a statement. “Now, three years into my career, I will have none of those basic employment rights that first made me want to come here.”

Nixon, who has taught history for 34 years, said the state is backing out of a key protection upon which teachers rely.

"Teaching is an honorable profession. North Carolina should do the honorable thing – live up to its promise and uphold the contract it made with me in 1978," he said.

NCAE attorney Ann McColl said "fundamental constitutional principles are being compromised" in the elimination of career status. She noted that neither it nor the voucher proposal were able to pass the General Assembly as standalone bills, so they were tucked into the budget, which was hammered out behind closed doors with no public input and little debate.

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  • Danny22 Dec 19, 2:51 p.m.

    there has never been many teachers removed from the classroom for poor performance. There should be some kind of way to remove them.

  • Smilester Dec 19, 11:04 a.m.

    Is it true that Bob Rucho thinks teachers are worse than Nazis?

    I'm not sure but I do think he believes that Teachers are worse than Obamacare. It doesn't get worse in Bob Rucho's world.

  • lazydawg58 Dec 19, 10:57 a.m.

    "Teaching is a bit different from the private sector where a person can easily, if they're quality, go to a different job and take their private retirement with them and negotiate for a higher wage. I have no problem with allowing teachers to do the same thing! Oh, wait, the state controls all teacher salaries and they can't be negotiated. The state takes out money for state retirement which cannot be transferred to another state if a teacher wants to leave."

    This is only partially true. Counties can also offer pay supplements. Wealthy districts like Wake, Orange, Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Mecklenburg can offer significant pay increases. Low wealth counties either don't offer any supplement or a relatively small one. So as salaries stagnate and tenure disappears teachers in rural counties have less incentive to remain where they are. Remember if they leave their district tenure has to start all over again in the new district. Shortages in poor counties will follow.

  • Plenty Coups Dec 19, 9:28 a.m.

    "Why can you easily find NEA information in webarchives that present different teacher pay ranking information for 2008 - as I have posted previously."

    You claim this but I have yet to see it. Please provide a link. I proved that the NEA data claiming that we're 25th or 26th was reported by other sources at the same time. They can't all be lying. BLS isn't biased but they're not comprehensive. They rely on simple surveys.

    "Why don't you ask any long term public school teacher in North Carolina if they believe our state ranked 25th in teacher pay in 2008?"

    AS my wife is a teacher and I've closely followed their pay, I know it to be true. NC DPI data also confirms this. They keep a record of pay raises. Every year democrats were in power they received a raise prior to 2008-2009 when the recession hit. And every raise was higher than the GOP's one 1.2% raise. Page 16:

    http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/fbs/resources/data/highlights/2013highlights.pdf

  • westernwake1 Dec 19, 8:26 a.m.

    "Your one source uses BLS data which is generally accurate but hardly as comprehensive as the NEA data which is why everybody uses the NEA data when it comes to teacher pay." - Plenty Coups

    Why can you easily find NEA information in webarchives that present different teacher pay ranking information for 2008 - as I have posted previously.

    Why don't you ask any long term public school teacher in North Carolina if they believe our state ranked 25th in teacher pay in 2008? (enjoy their laughter at your assertion). Maybe back in the 90s but not in 2008.

  • Plenty Coups Dec 19, 8:16 a.m.

    "I find it absurd that the NEA has re-done its stats to indicate North Carolina was ranked 25th in teacher pay in 2008."

    What evidence do you have that the NEA "re-did" its stats? Ultra conservative organizations such as the John Locke Foundation even commented on the rankings back then. It appears BIll Brasky was the correct one.

    http://www.johnlocke.org/press_releases/show/327

    "All the other sources indicate that North Carolina ranked 44th in teacher pay in 2007, 2008, and 2009."

    Your one source uses BLS data which is generally accurate but hardly as comprehensive as the NEA data which is why everybody uses the NEA data when it comes to teacher pay. The BLS uses general surveys to get a fairly accurate picture of pay level.

  • westernwake1 Dec 19, 8:13 a.m.

    "I have 25th here as well off of the official report. On page C14. All I can think of is that the link you gave also includes private school teachers

    http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/09rankings.pdf" - Bill Brasky

    Private school teachers are generally paid less than public school teachers.

    As I pointed out before - the problem that I have NEA is that back in 2008 their report showed North Carolina ranked 43rd in teacher pay. Since then they have revised their report to show North Carolina as 25th including revising previous reports and posting them. Searches of webarchive sites can validate this.

    All of this has been done to make political points in states that they want to target as part of their agenda. Revising North Carolina in 2008 to show 25th in pay sliding to 46 today makes excellent political fodder for the NEA but is not truthful.

    The federal BLS is a much better and non-biased source for salary information.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 18, 8:11 p.m.

    I have 25th here as well off of the official report. On page C14. All I can think of is that the link you gave also includes private school teachers

    http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/09rankings.pdf

  • westernwake1 Dec 18, 7:49 p.m.

    Does GOP recognize that they 'hate' that they are piling on the public school teachers in North Carolina is going to back-fire badly on them? The elimination of master's pay, removing tenure, cutting the Teaching Fellows program, etc. etc. etc. is not only frustrating teachers but now has larger community of voting parents very upset who are seeing the negative impact on their children's schools.

    Despite the state Republican's fantasy to roll-back the clock to 1960, North Carolina is not going to return to the 'good old days' where 'middle-class and better' children went to private Christian schools, and poor children were relegated to public schools.

  • westernwake1 Dec 18, 7:40 p.m.

    "Please list your source. All I can find is that in 2008 this state was 25th in teacher pay, which is now 48th." - Bill Brasky

    I find it absurd that the NEA has re-done its stats to indicate North Carolina was ranked 25th in teacher pay in 2008. All the other sources indicate that North Carolina ranked 44th in teacher pay in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

    "The average teacher salary in North Carolina was $39,756 in 2007, $41,430 in 2008, and $42,556 in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compared to the national average, of $48,353 in 2008 and $49,720 in 2009, teaching salaries in North Carolina are low. For 2007, 2008, and 2009, teaching salaries in North Carolina ranked 44th in the nation, their low rankings similar to that of other less-populated states."

    http://www.teachersalaryinfo.com/average-teacher-salary-north-carolina.html

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