I originally started this blog as a coping mechanism to deal with the absurdity coming out of the Florida Legislature and its wacky implementation in the Miami Dade County school system. After six months in North Carolina, Florida is starting to seem like a bastion of sanity and teacher love. The latest ideas circulating at the North Carolina General Assembly regarding how to reform the teaching profession certainly makes one wonder what exactly is in the water supply in Raleigh? Is it some brain eating teacher-hating amoeba? Or perhaps some chemical contamination laced with teacher hate? Apparently last year’s legislation to end tenure, abolish pay for advanced degrees, and reward the top 25% of teachers with a $500 raise only if they give up tenure four years early was not insulting enough. The highlights of this year’s 60/30/10 plan include: paying teachers on a per pupil basis, establishing career tracks, forcing all teachers to reapply for their jobs, and the ultimate kick in the wazoo, mandatory retirement after 20 years of service.
Allow Kafkateach to briefly deconstruct each one of these brain farts:
- The “Android Super Teacher Capable of Rescuing the Minds of Countless Number of Students” model. Ah…the Industrial Revolution has finally caught up with the teaching profession. Efficiency above all else, dang it. Why should we pay a teacher who is capable of managing 50 students in a room at a time the same amount that we pay weaker teachers who might actually be interesting in learning your child’s name?
“Let’s allow a capable and willing teacher who has “flipped” his or her classroom to increase class sizes and teach more classes. The solution to the education problem becomes fewer core area teachers, each with more students – reallocating the salaries of a few traditional teaching positions toward the teachers who are willing and able to serve additional students.” http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/01/21/latest-nc-teacher-compensation-plan-would-significantly-reduce-education-spending-encourage-teacher-turnover/#sthash.S7IobRfw.dpuf
The idea of paying teachers extra for teaching more students is not new and is currently implemented in Miami Dade County where teachers are paid a supplement for teaching an extra class. As a teacher who has enjoyed receiving the supplement for teaching an extra period, I am not opposed to this plan as long as there are class size limitations and maximum student loads. Otherwise, teachers and administrators will be motivated to smash as many little bodies in a room as possible in order to receive extra payment. Teachers will also have no planning periods under this model. I have turned down the extra pay knowing that I would not be able to properly do my job and maintain my sanity without a planning period. Therefore, I must not be a “capable” teacher and be banished to “Apprentice” career status with the slave wage of $32,000. Which brings me to teacher career tracks aspect of this plan.
- The “Apprentice, Master, Career” model, AKA the 60/30/10 plan. Under this caste system, 60% of North Carolina would be determined to be worthy of “Apprentice” status and earn a $32,000 a year salary. After three years of teaching, taking a mandatory online training program (hmm… I wonder which big testing company might benefit from that juicy government contract?), and demonstrating effective teaching based on “customer survey data” 30% of teachers may be promoted to Master teacher status. I guess little five-year old students and moody adolescents will become the “customers” deciding the fate of their Apprentice teachers? The lucky (and perhaps politically connected) ten percent of teachers will be worthy of being “Career” status teachers and earn $72,000 if they have an advanced degree and take on leadership positions. Huh? Didn’t they just eliminate pay based on advanced degrees last year? Of course, for this 60/30/10 caste system to be implemented all teachers will have to reapply for their jobs.
- The “You Thought You Had a Job” model. Only people who have applied for a job in a public school district know the horrific layers of bureaucracy that must be navigated in order to make $32,000 a year. Applying for certification, ordering transcripts, thirty pages of a paperwork, in Charlotte Mecklenburg a fifty page psychological survey (pick C), drug testing, finger printing …etc. I avoided the teaching profession for many years just because of my disdain for bureaucracy. How exactly will the bureaucrats handle every teacher in North Carolina reapplying for their job at the same time? I sent in transcripts and paperwork for a North Carolina license six months ago and still haven’t received anything. Once these teachers have reapplied and hopefully been given the same job back, 60 percent of them will have to be booted down to Apprentice level. What if by some miracle an 18-year veteran teacher has managed to earn $50,000 in the state of North Carolina? Do they get knocked down to $32,000 after they reapply for their job? Notice I deliberately wrote “18 year veteran” teacher. I wanted to write “20 year veteran” teacher but there won’t be any 20 year veteran teachers in the state of North Carolina if this legislation gets passed.
- The “You Better Die Young” model. Even those lucky enough to be labeled a “Career” teacher will find themselves without a career after 20 years of service in North Carolina. All teachers must retire after 20 years of teaching (will they immediately receive a pension?). What exactly is the justification for kicking out your most experienced workers? I know supermodels, Hollywood actresses, and professional athletes have expiration dates on their careers. But those people also make millions of dollars and if they invest wisely they can sustain themselves once they are past their prime. While $72,000 is a comfortable salary, it certainly won’t last anyone past their twenty years of service. Your 20 year veteran teacher is most likely to be in their early forties if they were stupid enough to go into teaching after graduating from college because they had some godforsaken “calling” or “love for children” and they will most likely be saddled with the burden of caring for young children and possibly aging parents at the same time. This leaves little time for launching a new career path in the middle of your life.
Let’s just hope if any of this backwater nonsense manages to pass the General Assembly this summer that whatever happens in North Carolina stays in North Carolina.
***Update*** The author of the 60/30/10 plan, Lodge McKammon, has come out as saying this was part of a private discussion and was not meant to be shared publicly. Note to Mr. McKammon, any idea brainstormed in private that you are embarrassed to share publicly is most likely a bad idea. http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/22/author-of-nc-proposal-responds/. Let’s just hope these ideas stay in whatever dark cave they were brainstormed in.
***Update #2***The author has stated that they have removed the 20 year automatic termination and career implosion mandate. I guess on second thought and probably with an abundance of negative feedback, forced retirement after 20 years seemed a bit harsh.