Teachers speak out at school board meeting to discuss tenure changes

Tags: , , , ,

Submitted: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 3:45am
Updated: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 4:43am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Some North Carolina teachers will have to make the grade if they want an increase in pay and a four year contract. The state legislature is making changes, which includes eliminating tenure by 2018. Tonight, the New Hanover County School Board met to discuss those changes.

Kerri Cunningham, an 8th grade math teacher at Murray Middle School, spoke on behalf of about twenty teachers from the school who all oppose the new system that would eliminate tenure.

“It treats us like we are a business, which we’re not,” Cunningham explained. “We deal with human beings every day.”

According to the system, the top 25% of highest performing teachers would be determined by an evaluation.

“What I teach is so different from what someone else teaches,” said Cunningham. “So how can you use this structured evaluation tool?”

Cunningham believes a pivotal tool to the school system is teamwork, a tool she feels could be threatened.

“I feel like it would just pit teacher against teacher. The competition would be high within a school were you need everyone sharing and working together.”

Eligible teachers would have to work for the school system for 3 consecutive years, among other qualifications. Once a teacher accepts, they would relinquish their tenure. Teachers who were not selected, or not eligible, would be given a one year contract through July 1, 2018.

Educators at Murray Middle signed a petition stating they all plan to reject the offer.

“Every single one of our teachers are going to opt out, is not going to take this.”

During the discussion, School Board Vice Chair, Jeanette Nichols, said this is not fair to the teachers. After the meeting WWAY School Board Chair, Don Hayes, for his thoughts on the system but he said he could no comment because the board was going into closed session.

Leave a Reply

15 Comments on "Teachers speak out at school board meeting to discuss tenure changes"

2015 years 8 months ago

Teaching for the MOST part is NOT a private sector job.

When I was in private industry and I was trying to complete a project – WITHOUT FAIL – I was judged on the results I could control.
In teaching the results are uncontrollable by the teachers.
The results are affected more by parental influence and personal effort by the students. In private industry you would never be judged on things you couldn’t control.


J. Hoffnagle
2015 years 8 months ago

That is the most insane statement I’ve ever heard. Let me see you come into a classroom with all abilities and disablities and move them towards a productive citizen. We are greatful and love children. We sure don’t do it for the pay…get real. Its people like you that don’t have a clue what it takes to be an educator. These teachers are right…they don’t need to make competition, they need to work together as a team.

2015 years 8 months ago

In the private sector, there is competition, yet the individuals still work as a team. It would be pretty sad if teachers aren’t able to handle it. I mean, after all, they are all in it for the good of the kids. If that’s the case, then a little competition shouldn’t hurt.

Why should bad teachers be given a guaranteed job? Because they deal with human beings everyday? Police officers deal with human beings everyday. Lawyers and judges deal with human beings everyday. Doctors and nurses deal with human beings everyday. Waiters and waitresses deal with human beings everyday. Cashiers deal with human beings everyday. There are numerous jobs that deal with human beings everyday. Should they all be given tenure?

And although the teachers are in it for the children, they are threatening what is essentially a strike. If they reject the offer, then post the position opening. One of the many problems that have caused the decline in education is the inability to get rid of bad teachers. If it was all about the children, then the good teachers would not object to getting rid of the bad apples.

I am sick and tired of teachers putting themselves on a pedestal. They put their britches on the same as everyone else. They make higher than North Carolina’s average salary. They get the same insurance as all other state employees in North Carolina. They get more days off than most of the other state employees. They have it so bad. I mean it’s not like there are unemployed people out there who cannot find a job in this abysmal job market. It’s not like there are unemployed people out there who are wondering how they are going to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead.

Teachers should really be grateful for what they have.

Kay Talbott
2015 years 8 months ago

As an experienced educator, I feel compelled to respond to the opinion that teachers put themselves on pedestals. While it is true that we do put our “britches” on the same as everyone else, as educators we are required to have a college degree. We are required to continually take additional training to ensure that we best meet the needs of each student. As an educator, I am a role model for my students and am constantly aware that even while on my own time, my conduct and dress must be professional and appropriate.

Throughout my years of teaching, I have spent many, many hours at home studying, grading papers and making lesson plans. After supper each night, I try and contact at least five parents. I find that if I keep in constant contact with the parents and/or guardians of my students, everyone benefits. I am proud to be an educator and continually try and conduct myself as a professional.

I have two masters degrees (both in education) which I earned during those “days off” that teachers get that other state employees don’t get. Obviously the writer does not realize that we are not getting paid during those days off. Most teachers spend their days off furthering their education or working second and third jobs in order to provide for their own families.

Several years ago, when the legislators froze the step increase for teachers based on the number of years of experience, they also slashed health benefits and increased the number of required days in a school year. Nevertheless, as I have previously stated, I am proud to be an educator. I acknowledge that it is my calling and I bring my very best to my students each and every day.

Robert OBriant II
2015 years 8 months ago

Kay, First off, I commend you for your dedication. If all teachers subscribed to the same level of professionalism as you apparently do, then I would have absolutely no problem with tenure. However, by and large, the tenure model benefits only one person… the low performing teacher. Teachers that enjoy their profession and exceed in teaching their students under most circumstances (barring things such as misguided budget cuts by politicians that have our best interests at heart) wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Getting rid of the tenure model will allow the local boards to remove substandard educators and replace them with those that are more qualified and energetic, ready to make a difference in a child’s life. As important a job as teaching definitely is, why should it be given such broad protection as tenure?

But as much as I agree with the removal of tenure, I do agree that the bonus system put in place by the governor is ill conceived. In a word, it’s retarded. All that is going to do is pit teacher against teacher and kids are going to suffer for it. Plus, the poor administrator is going to have to go into hiding when he has to subjectively decide on who to award bonuses and contracts too.

2015 years 8 months ago

You are correct about the bonus money for the top 25%, that is one of the most counterproductive ideas ever put in place by these brilliant politicians. But as far as tenure goes, there is a huge misconception about the protection it gives teachers from losing their jobs. When you have tenure you are still held to high standards and you are reviewed every year by the administration. If you drop below these standards you are put on probation and at the end of that probationary period if you haven’t shown improvement your contract can and will be terminated.

What is happening is very bad for education. With all the cuts that are continuously being passed down from the state, and with tenure being taken out of the equation, principals are going to have to make very tough decisions. Would you rather have proven teachers (who would make a higher amount of money) and more children in each classroom or would you rather hire more inexperienced, cheaper teachers and have less children in each classroom. The politicians want to run education like a business. Public Education puts children first, not profits.

2015 years 8 months ago

And where are you going to find these “qualified” teachers since North Carolina no longer deems it necessary for teachers to carry Master’s Degrees. You can bet that no one with a brain will come from out of state to teach in a state which is 48th in pay.

2015 years 8 months ago

Even with those summers not being paid days off, teachers still have a higher salary than the average in North Carolina.

My husband has a JD. He brought work home a lot. Teachers weren’t the only state employees getting cuts to their health insurance. In the beginning he wasn’t getting paid what he deserved, but it never affected his job performance.

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects, acquisition, insurance agents and nuclear safety personnel are all required to have continuing education classes.

Guest Reply Redux
2015 years 8 months ago

Teachers from the 49th and 50th states which pays lower…will come!

2015 years 8 months ago

That is why the teachers signed the petition saying they would rather opt out of the “giving up your career status for $500 year” policy. They are not trying to fuss for no reason or burden the economy. They just see this policy as ill-conceived. At the board meeting last night during the tenure ppt, the board kept asking questions like “why %25″ and ” on what criteria are these teachers going to be assessed”. No one could answer. People need to lose the attitudes toward these teachers who are just trying to speak up and treated with some professionalism. Let’s stop attacking the people who work 10+ hours a day trying to help our kids become more prepared and successful in life.

2015 years 8 months ago

Windy, maybe you need to read the article again. You seem to be confused about what happened at the board meeting. The teachers refused money that would divide the staff and the school. That’s not good for children Windy.

2015 years 8 months ago

Windy, if your only ammunition is criticizing the grammar of the above quote, then that says alot about the validity and immaturity of your argument. Petty and childish.

Also, I know the teacher who said that, and I DARE you to come visit her class and see just how valuable and knowledgeable she is. I double-dare you to check the schools NC report card data, you will see that she is one of the best MATH teachers in the state, by comparison. Those are hard-facts, not a misinformed and speculative opinion based on your ignorance of the petition, the reason the teachers were there, and the quality of her grammar.

Also, when you say that “these teachers need to focus on EDUCATION (for both themselves and their students) before making demands that they clearly do not deserve”– what data or observation are you basing this on?

Please explain your extensive experience with the public education system and our schools’ teachers that has led you to this subjective conclusion. And don’t worry…I will not be petty and criticize your syntax, logic, and grammar.
C’mon, Really???

2015 years 8 months ago

Perhaps instead of approaching the school board with an outstretched hand, these teachers should take a moment and assess their own skills and abilities in the classroom, and realize that tenure is a privilege, not a right.

Highlighting one’s own lack of grammar by making statements such as “Every single one of our teachers are going to opt out, is not going to take this” will certainly not help their perceived situation.

These teachers need to focus on EDUCATION (for both themselves and their students) before making demands that they clearly do not deserve.

2015 years 8 months ago

With the economy being as bad as it is and with so many people out of jobs, I don’t see how teachers, in good conscience, can complain about what they don’t have instead of being grateful for what they do have.

2015 years 8 months ago

… if you will at the very least use proper grammar, spelling, and syntax in your written diatribes. Once again, we have a disgruntled “teacher,” who does not seem to have a proper grasp of the English language yet is making monetary demands on the taxpayers. Need I repeat myself … FOCUS ON TEACHING AND SETTING THE EXAMPLE, AND PERHAPS YOU CAN *EARN* WHAT YOU SEEK.