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Quarter of NC school districts oppose teacher tenure law

Posted March 13, 2014

At least 28 school districts across North Carolina have voiced opposition to a new law that repeals "career status" protections for teachers and replaces it with a plan that rewards the top teachers, according the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Cumberland County Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools are among the latest to reject the law, which would phase out tenure for all teachers by 2018.

“I think you’re going to see a domino effect, and [school districts] are going to just start pouring in,” says Rodney Ellis, president of NCAE. “Some school districts already have quietly registered their opposition.”

The measure requires school districts to select 25 percent of qualified teachers to receive four-year contracts and $500 annual raises. In exchange, those teachers must voluntarily give up their right to "career status," which requires a due process or a hearing before a teacher can be dismissed or demoted.

'Harmful and Divisive'

The Guilford and Durham county school boards voted to sue to stop the tenure plan, while the Wake school board voted last week to try and repeal the law.

“Part of the reason we’re opposed to it is because it’s so open to interpretation. It seems to encourage competition between public school teachers,” said Larry Niles, Wake NCAE president, on WUNC’s The State of Things.

Alan Duncan, chair of Guilford’s school board, helped write a resolution rejecting the law.

“It’s very harmful, it’s demoralizing and it’s divisive,” he says. “Those are words that consistently have been brought out with our communications with teachers.”

Teachers and superintendents argue that school districts have not been given clear guidelines on how to pick the top 25 percent of teachers and that the process feels arbitrary.

Gov. Pat McCrory acknowledges some of the concerns, saying that the law is “an example of passing a policy without clearly understanding the execution and operation.”

McCrory and many lawmakers admit that the teacher pay system needs serious revamping – a new legislative task force is currently looking into the issue and will provide recommendations to the General Assembly.

The governor also recently pledged to raise the base salary for teachers early in their careers to $35,000, the first step in a much more comprehensive plan, according to McCrory.

This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of their education coverage.

Reema Khrais is the 2014 Fletcher Fellow focused on Education Policy Reporting. The Fletcher Fellowship is a partnership between WUNC and UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication funded in part by the Fletcher Foundation.


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  • 2coolkids Mar 14, 2014

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    Tell me about this "real world" and I will gladly explain to you why these budget provisions passed by the current NCGA and Governor McCrory do not do what you think they do. They do not make teachers "at will". These provisions still require teachers to work under contracts with job protections making them "impossible to fire" for up to four years. The contracts prevent teachers from being fired at will or being able to walk away at will like the "real world". These anti-free market budget provisions highly regulate teacher's salaries and hold the best teachers salaries artificially low by mandating what each district must pay their teachers, regardless of performance. The 25% provision is an unfunded mandate requiring districts to offer contracts they do not have to money to honor. It would be fiscally irresponsible to comply. The contract is with the district, not the state, and the districts don't control the money.

  • Get your IDs Mar 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You can say the same about Barry and his playbook. Considering not much has changed and what has, has been an abject failure.

  • Get your IDs Mar 14, 2014

    Tenure protects you from having to embrace the real world

  • WRAL_USER Mar 14, 2014

    This is yet another GOP attempt to destroy education in NC.

    The GOP playbook for the citizens of NC:
    1. keep 'em distracted
    2. keep 'em poor
    3. keep 'em uneducated.


  • 2coolkids Mar 14, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Then you should be opposed to this budget provision since it still requires teachers to work under contracts with job protections that make them "impossible to fire" for up to four years. You should be demanding big government Republicans in Raleigh make teachers "at will" starting this year. If they can take away career status (aka tenure to the uninformed) in 2018 then can do it in 2014. They could if that's what they really wanted. Instead they are kicking the can down the road until 2018 and even then teachers will not be "at will". If you are fiscally conservative you should be against this "25%" big government, unfunded mandate Republicans have put on local districts requiring them to offer contracts districts do not have the money to honor. If you want a free market you should be against Republicans holding excellent teachers salaries artificially low by mandating what districts must pay teachers regardless of performance.

  • lessismore Mar 14, 2014

    Tenure means a less qualified teacher will keep his/her job over a superior teacher if she has more years of service. It actually ensures the worst teachers keep their jobs and education deteriorates.

  • sickofproles101 Mar 13, 2014

    As a tenured teacher who has taught for 11 years, served as department chair, worked for the state & county designing curriculum & assessments, and inspired 100's of students I will opt out of the $500 "raise." I find it offensive that many posters think I should jump for joy and be grateful for $50 a month, when according to the pay scale I signed on for when I was hired, I should be making $1,000 more per month.

  • Pensive01 Mar 13, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I wouldn't characterize it as based on ideological thinking simply because I think it goes even further then that. People with widely divergent ideological views can be convinced, eventually, with factual evidence. On the other hand people with dogmatic beliefs will not be swayed by any amount of factual evidence.

  • U2 Mar 13, 2014

    To all uninformed folks, tenure means there is a due process for getting rid of ineffective educators. It does NOT mean job "protection".

  • John Paul Bertke Mar 13, 2014
    user avatar

    "I think that is why the tenure thing has come up - to find a way to be able to get rid of bad teachers." - busyb97

    You could be right.

    But I personally think it's because Tea Party politicians are mounting a calculated attack on the public school system in North Carolina. They don't like teachers, they don't like colleges, they don't like scientists, and they generally don't like people from Chapel Hill (including the ones who are rapidly infiltrating Raleigh!). But they LOVE the idea of taking tax money from these people, to help pay for the best possible private education for their kids.

    :-) You could be right. I could be right.