The Transylvania Times -

Confused On Education

 


With this testing load we are in danger of turning our teachers into proctors. We need to slow down and regroup with all of these tests and let our teachers teach.”

-Governor Pat McCrory

When it comes to education, Gov. McCrory sometimes makes sensible statements; but no sooner than he makes a sensible comment, he either says or does something that is either contradictory or undermines what he previously said.

His belief that there is too much mandatory testing is one that many parents, students and teachers hold. Representatives of the teachers’ association, NCAE, also agree, with one of them telling legislators, “We hear about tests all the time. Teachers just want to be left alone to teach.” Some administrators have reported that they spend 20 days a year on standardized tests. Add the days that students prepare for these standardized tests and the standardized testing tail is wagging the educational dog.

On the other hand, McCrory signed legislation that makes student performances on such tests a major criterion in whether or not a teacher should retain her job or receive a pay increase. If a standardized test is going to be a primary instrument in determining if a teacher should keep her job or receive a salary increase, then it’s only logical the teacher will “teach to the test.” In any profession, people focus on the activity or assessment that will increase their salary. They would be committing professional suicide if they did not.

Just a few weeks ago, the state announced that the graduation rate in North Carolina had reached its highest levels in years. It had increased an amazing 14 percent from 2006 to 82.5 percent this past year. McCrory was quick to praise teachers, stating “These impressive graduation gains are a testament to the hard work and talent of our classroom teachers and school principals who have not taken their eyes off the goal of graduating career and college-ready students.”

But again, McCrory signed legislation that froze teacher salaries, did away with any job security and takes away any compensation for receiving an advanced degree. That’s no way to treat talented professionals who work hard.

Thus far, McCrory’s rhetoric has not matched his actions. While some of his words have been supportive of education and common sense reform, his actions have been detrimental to education.

One of McCrory’s latest plans reveals that he is out of touch with public education. He has announced a plan that would give $10,000 stipends to 1,000 “master teachers” across the state. These “master teachers” would be selected by their peers and these “master teachers” would then find out what is and is not working in the classroom and pass that on to the state’s education leaders. This proposal is full of holes and redundancies.

The state already has large number of master teachers, those who have undergone rigorous scrutiny to receive the national board certification. Good teachers in good schools already share, formally and informally, what works and what does not work in their classrooms. Good administrators who are strong in curriculum know what works and what does not; they should be passing that information on to their superintendents, who should be passing that information to state educational leaders.

Mathematically, McCrory’s proposal won’t work. Since there are 100 counties in the state, that’s an average of 10 “master teachers” per county. Since Mecklenburg (Charlotte) and Wake counties (Raleigh) have student populations at least 20 times larger than Transylvania’s, they would have more “master teachers.” Transylvania might have one or two. How could one or two teachers, in addition to teaching their own classes, be able to competently compile all the techniques in every grade in every subject?

Education accounts for 56 percent of all state expenditures. Since it is the lion’s share of the state’s expenditure, the governor should have a firm grasp of what is occurring in the classroom instead of being confused about the situation. The main legislative session is over for the year. If Gov. McCrory wants to make sure 56 percent of the state’s money is spent efficiently, he should spend about a month in classrooms and with teachers and administrators all across the state to see what really is working and what needs to be changed. Maybe then he wouldn’t be so confused. Maybe then his actions would match his words.

 
 

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