Senate ed reform bill passes

Posted June 5, 2012

S 795, Sen. Phil Berger's education reform bill, passed the Senate on a 31-17 vote Monday night. The measure now goes to the House, where lawmakers have been noncommittal on its future. 

My summary of the bill as well as full legislative explanations are on this blog post.

Monday's debate featured an attempt by Democrats to amend the measure.  Senate 060412

The Democratic amendment, offered by Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, would have rewritten several parts of the bill, including:

  • added an exception to the bill's requirement that all students pass basic reading tests before graduating from third grade. The Stein amendment would have given principals the ability to promote students who they believed shouldn't be left behind.
  • allowed teachers to keep tenure while a 2011 law changing how teachers are dismissed was evaluated. Berger's bill would require all teachers be placed on contracts running from 1-to-4 years.
  • ordered the State Board of Education to come up with a new model for grading schools rather than implement the A-through-F scheme outlined in the Berger bill.

The Senate voted down the Stein amendment on a party-line vote. 

"I have no problem adding a provision giving the principal a greater say, but I don't think it should be the last word," said Berger, R-Rockingham. "That's the system we have now."

In general, Berger said, Stein's five-page amendment would slow changes to the public school system he wanted to make. 

Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, said the bill merely punished teachers and schools without providing them the money needed to do their job.

"At its essence, it's taking another slap at teachers and we don't need to be doing that," Nesbitt said. 

Berger defended the bill, saying lawmakers has protected the classroom from harsh cuts.

"I am a little disappointed in the characterization of the bill as an attack on teachers," Berger said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

The measure now goes to the House, where it's future is uncertain. Lawmakers there did not account for it in the budget they just sent the Senate. 


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  • Plenty Coups Jun 6, 2012

    Notice how they forgot to pay good teachers more, like they promised? They never really meant that part and they know it. This is just another attempt to bash public education. The focus on the 3rd grade is telling as in 4th grade they have to start taking the NAEP test. They want the state to look good the following year so its all about getting tough in 3rd grade.

  • squawk08 Jun 6, 2012

    When I worked for a public school district 2 years ago and they were doing the budget cuts and evaluating which teachers to keep or let go, many great teachers who did not have tenure had to be let go, over some of the ones who had 20 or more years in and were not exactly doing much in their classrooms. While this is not true of all teachers with tenure, there are many who simply know that when it is time to lay off teachers, their spot is secure. I do think that every single teacher should be evaluated and this new law will make alot of teachers step up to the plate more, regardless of how much time they have in.

  • peglegpoot1 Jun 5, 2012

    There is a misconception that tenure means you cannot be fired. This is not true. Having 'tenure' in a school system only mans that someone has to have just cause to fire you. If you are chronically late, if you are insubordinate, if you fail to do your job, you can be terminated.

  • U2 Jun 5, 2012

    i do believe that everybody in any job should have sense of security that they should have tenure. If i buy a house with 30 years mortgage I want to know that my job will be there so that I will be able to pay for it, and that I will not lose my house because my boss did not ''like'' my performance. This helps everyone, including the economy, more people with sense of security that will have jobs, means more spending and good for business. Republicans are cutting their noses to spite their face.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Jun 5, 2012

    "no business keeps there employees for a lifetime"

    Most people get bored with a job after a few years, teaching is no different. As difficult, challenging, and many times unrewarding teaching can be, I find it hard to imagine that teachers who have been employed for 15+ years will not get stagnant in their positions. A child's progress should not pivot upon someone who is allowed to remain in a position that they are possibly bored with.

  • U2 Jun 5, 2012

    If you are becoming a teacher the only incentive you have are because you really want to be a teacher and other incentive is the tenure. There is no money in education, and everyone that gets into the teaching knows that. In private sector the incentive is more money.

  • tmstubbs63 Jun 5, 2012

    No individual, in any job, should be guaranteed that job due to "tenure." Giving any one "tenure" kills their incentive to keep improving. If teachers know that they have to improve and perform to keep their jobs, then everyone will benefit.

  • U2 Jun 5, 2012

    I can see the the arguments from both sides, we do need to keep teachers accountable. I do not agree with taking the teachers tenure away. Sure there are few bad apples in education system, but majority of teachers do a great job, I do not believe in collective punishment. Republican party members keep saying that no business keeps their employees for a lifetime, well I do not see education as being a business. Education is an institution that can not be run as a private business. Without tenure I think NC will lose its best teachers to the states where they have tenure, where teachers are willing to earn less than the private counterparts, but they know that they will have the job tomorrow. Stop blaming the teachers for everything, until the parents get involved there is no improvement in school system.

  • peglegpoot1 Jun 5, 2012

    While I agree with the previous comments, there is an issue the legislature has overlooked. Permanent employees can go on disability....Non permanent employees have more restrictions. Does this mean that there will be more or less potential benefits paid out? Does this also mean that 'all' state employees are no longer considered 'permanent' and will also need to to sign one to four year contracts? What happpens when they get a new boss who doesn't like some of the staff? He or she will clean house and many good, experienced employees will be released. Whoever doesn't believe school systems are non-polital has never taught.

  • saywhat37 Jun 5, 2012

    kermit60 --- AMEN!!!