@NCCapitol

Teachers group to file suit over overnight override

Posted January 5, 2012

— The North Carolina Association of Educators said Thursday that it plans to file a lawsuit against the state after Republican lawmakers engineered a late-night vote targeting the teachers organization.

Gov. Beverly Perdue called the General Assembly into special session Wednesday to give lawmakers the chance to override her recent veto of legislation that essentially repeals a 2-year-old law that provides death row inmates with an avenue to challenge their sentences.

House Republicans couldn't muster enough support for that override, but they quickly scheduled a session at 12:45 a.m. Thursday to override a veto Perdue handed down last summer on Senate Bill 727. The legislation bars the NCAE from collecting dues from members through payroll deduction.

The Senate voted in July to override that veto, but the House never took up the override until Thursday morning.

"Republican lawmakers came into the legislature at about 1 o'clock in the morning while our children were sleeping and took revenge on teachers who were standing up for our children," an angry Perdue said Thursday afternoon. "That's just shameful for North Carolina, shameful."

Jack Nichols, an attorney for the NCAE, said the way the House vote was handled violated the state constitution. The legislation itself is also unconstitutional, he said, because it is written specifically to target the teachers group.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina and charities like the United Way also collect dues and donations through payroll deduction.

"The message from the legislature is clear: If you stand against cuts to public education, we will teach you a lesson," NCAE President Sheri Strickland told supporters at a news conference.

Strickland played a clip of House Speaker Thom Tillis unknowingly speaking into an open microphone last spring during a Republican caucus, when he outlined plans to target the group, which has traditionally backed Democratic candidates and was lobbying hard against cuts to spending on public education.

NCAE rally NCAE: Law targeting group illegal

"We just want to give them a little taste of what's about to come," Tillis told his fellow House Republicans at the time.

"The government just doesn't have the right, under the constitution, to go teach a citizen a lesson, whatever that means," state Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said Thursday.

Although lawmakers didn't follow the proper procedure for calling the session and didn't give the public any advance notice, Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, defended the hastily called session early Thursday.

"Everybody knows that every veto override that is on the calendar is unfinished business," he said. "I've made it very clear from the beginning that unfinished business will be taken up when we have the opportunity to override the vetoes, and that still stands for every other veto."

Republicans promised more transparency in governing when they took control of the General Assembly last year, but GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood says that voters want efficiency more than anything from the legislature.

"The people really don't care about how it was done," Lockwood said. "The bottom line is, we did something we believe in, and the Democrats disagree. The bottom line is the issue and the result at the end of the day, and that's what the people care about."

House Democrats leveled withering criticism at their GOP counterparts, saying how the state government does things is important.

"You draw your own conclusions," Glazier said at an early morning news conference. "My conclusion is it was vindictive, it was punitive, it was deliberate, it was willful and, in my view, it's also malicious and harmful to the people of the state."

House override session Little political fallout expected from overnight vote

The late-night vote helped squelch any possibility of a protest or show of force by the NCAE and other education supporters, said David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh.

McLennan said he thinks the political maneuvering was legal, but it still could hurt the Republicans in the legislative session that starts in May and in the fall elections.

"The Democrats are going to be very angry at the Republicans and probably cause a lot more gridlock," he said. "The educators and those who support education are going to be even more supportive of Democrats than they have in the past, and that could lead to a very interesting campaign season."

The overnight session quickly showed up in Democratic fundraising appeals on Thursday as lawmakers highlighted the override in a letter to donors and asked for money to help pay for their legal fight against the new Republican voting maps.

Voters in general, though, probably won't see the issue as a key factor in November, McLennan said.

"The reality is, in legislative races in particular, I don't think it's going to have much impact," he said.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman David Parker agreed, saying the override vote happened too fast to register with many people.

"It was like a rigged horse race that's already been run. Nobody cares about it after the horses have already finished the line, and that's what the Republican strategy is," Parker said.

Jasmine Hart, a 10th-grade English teacher at Sanderson High School, said not being able to pay NCAE dues directly via a payroll deduction is not the end of the world, but it is a nuisance.

"It's just one more thing we're going to have to do, one more piece of paperwork," Hart said.

The new law is also inconvenient for the NCAE, but Strickland said the group is "not going to back down now." She said she hopes the override energizes her membership.

"I think the end result may be not only to strengthen the membership we currently have but to have other educators who had not previously considered joining the association decide they want to stand up to a legislature that treats educators this way," she said.

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  • Plenty Coups Jan 6, 7:40 p.m.

    "P.S. - Finland is over-hyped. Nice homogenous society they have there."

    True. But it also shows that unions aren't harmful if they don't go overboard. Like most things, the key is somewhere in the middle. Unions can go overboard but not having a union means exploitation of workers.

  • westernwake1 Jan 6, 7:05 p.m.

    "I think you would agree with me that teachers need to get paid more, right? The best education system in the world right now is Finland which has unions and treats their teachers with great respect. They don't have merit pay or excessive testing." - Plenty Coups

    I have stated previously in this thread that we need to raise the starting pay of teachers in North Carolina. To align with states with similar cost-of-living the starting pay would need to be increased to the mid-40s.

    I also stated that using the EOG tests for teacher performance evaluation is absurd. Similar to private companies a number of hard, soft, and evaluation via observation factors need to be used to evaluate performance.

    I strongly stand behind that a pay for performance system is needed for teachers, and the current system of giving every teacher the same exact raise only serves to provide mediocrity in the classroom.

    P.S. - Finland is over-hyped. Nice homogenous society they have there.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 6, 6:41 p.m.

    "and yes, I am married to a teacher, daughter is a teacher, and mom was a teacher.... all in NC."

    I think you would agree with me that teachers need to get paid more, right? The best education system in the world right now is Finland which has unions and treats their teachers with great respect. They don't have merit pay or excessive testing. They don't say "I'll pay the good teachers more as soon as we get rid of the bad ones". That is a typical myth used in this state as when we sarted having "merit pay bonuses" for test scores it was quickly abandoned when the state ran low on money. That is why teachers need protection-to protect them from that kind of political abandonment.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 6, 6:35 p.m.

    westernwake-"The fact that 98% of companies are giving out pay raises this years does not mean that 98% of employees are getting a pay raise this year."

    Apparently you didn't read past the first sentence. They even include a chart that says average level of raise for "all employees".

    This is confirmed by Bureau of Labor Statistics for NC which show wage increases in most professions.

    http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm

  • Plenty Coups Jan 6, 6:25 p.m.

    "Proof?" - Plenty Coups

    westernwake-"Go read all the data and links from the North Carolina State Department of Education website."

    I'm sorry. You claim that charter schools outperform public schools when you allow for income and race. A general link to the charter schools isn't proof. I want specific links to back up your claim. I have read the links and they don't back you up UNLESS you don't allow for income levels.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 6, 6:23 p.m.

    "I would urge you to talk to some of your neighbors who working in RTP area companies like Cisco, IBM, etc."

    All my neighbors and friends have gotten raises the last 5 years. All of them.

  • westernwake1 Jan 6, 6:10 p.m.

    'westernwake-"and they are getting much better results across the state for students of all races and economic levels.'

    "Proof?" - Plenty Coups

    Go read all the data and links from the North Carolina State Department of Education website.

    http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/charterschools/

  • westernwake1 Jan 6, 6:07 p.m.

    What part of "98%" of comanies don't you understand??

    The fact that 98% of companies are giving out pay raises this years does not mean that 98% of employees are getting a pay raise this year. Most companies only give 10 to 15% of their employees any type of raise under a "rank and yank" McKinsey system. I would urge you to talk to some of your neighbors who working in RTP area companies like Cisco, IBM, etc. to get a sobering reality about how long it has been since most people in the private sector have received a pay raise.

    Public sector employees demanding broad-based pay raises that are not based on performance are not going to get any sympathy from parents in the private sector who have not generally received pay raises for much longer than 5 years.

  • westernwake1 Jan 6, 6:02 p.m.

    tiggysmum70 - I appreciate the invitation and understand your frustrations as a teacher. I commend you for the work that you do each day with the children in Scotland County. Obviously you are passsionate about teaching and a positive influence on your peers and students.

    Earlier on this thread I outlined that pay for performance should NOT be based on EOG student testing associated with No Child Left Behind. I outlined the basic hard, soft, and evaluation factors that performance should be based on. The topic of disruptive students who should not be mainstreamed who are in the classroom was also touched on, as well as the need to increase starting salaries. Go back and read today's thread.

    and yes, I am married to a teacher, daughter is a teacher, and mom was a teacher.... all in NC.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 6, 5:57 p.m.

    westernwake-"You will get very little sympathy from the parents of children who work in the private sector - most have not had a pay raise in over 10 years - yes count them 10 years. Feel better now?"

    And as I posted yesterday you choose to discount the multiple employement surveys that show the opposite is true on average. You provide no proof other than anecdotal evidence and choose to discount evidence in favor of what you want to believe.

    What part of "98%" of comanies don't you understand??

    http://www.mercer.com/press-releases/1387545

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