NCAE plans 'walk-in' to generate public education discussion
Posted October 24, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Aiming to create more dialogue about the plight of the state's teachers and the challenges of public education, the North Carolina Association of Educators on Thursday announced plans to host a "walk-in" on Nov. 4 at schools across the state.
Teachers continue to be frustrated with the lack of broad pay raises and the loss of both tenure and master's pay, said Rodney Ellis, president of the NCAE.
"It's about getting parents, educators, administrators, elected officials and everyone together in a school building having conversations about the challenges and successes are in our public schools," Ellis said.
Ellis said the NCAE is encouraging teachers, parents and students to wear red on Nov. 4 and use the day as an opportunity to meet in school buildings across the state. Teachers at Thursday's news conference said the stress on teachers and students creates unhealthy learning environments.
Some educators had previously mentioned the possibility of a walk-out on the same day, but the new plan is one Ellis said should generate more positive discussion. State law bans strikes or work stoppages by public employees.
"What we want is real positive change," Bambi Lockhart, a teacher at Holly Ridge Elementary School, said. "The kind of change that will lead to student growth and global education. That will bring the best and brightest back to our state and our schools. And that will help stop the war on North Carolina public schools."
Aside from the plans for Nov. 4, educators have also been signing petitions and planning legal action to fight a law passed in July that directs school districts to offer their top teachers a chance to sign four-year contracts in exchange for pay raises totaling $5,000 while gradually eliminating tenure. NCAE: Teachers frustrated by NC's education system
By 2018, all teachers will work under one-, two- or four-year contracts that replace so-called "career status" rights requiring school administrators to follow a defined process when firing a teacher.
Critics of tenure in the Republican-led General Assembly approved the change because they said rules make it difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers once they qualify for the protections after four years of teaching.
NCAE is planning to file a lawsuit in the coming months to challenge the elimination of teacher tenure, said Ann McColl, the organization's top lawyer.
The lawsuit is likely to argue that the state would be violating the contractual rights of teachers who have either enjoyed the job protections or were on their way to earning them, she said. Many teachers saw tenure as balancing low pay, she said.
In July, thousands of teachers and others rallied in downtown Raleigh to express their displeasure with the lack of pay raises in the state's budget.