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September 24, 2021

N.C. teacher pleas with lawmaker

This is from a letter sent to State Rep. Rob Bryan by Stuart Egan, a teacher at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, originally shared on the N.C. Policy Watch website:

Think about it. As a two-term representative, you have helped create a system by which poverty-stricken schools are not only labeled as failing (via North Carolina’s adoption of Jeb Bush’s school grading system), but you have fostered an environment that keeps schools under the foot of government by lowering per pupil expenditures and vilifying veteran educators. And now you meet behind closed doors with those who are willing to siphon money to charter schools run by out-of-state private entities?

You were quoted as saying, “I think the question is how long are kids allowed to be in failing schools?” when asked about your reasoning for crafting a charter takeover. Yet, the question you ask is the wrong one. Rather, you should have asked, “How long are we as legislators going to continue creating an environment that keeps schools from being successful?”

Anyone objectively looking at what the North Carolina General Assembly has done in the last three years to public education can easily understand that the biggest obstacle in helping schools achieve actually resides in the Legislative Building on West Jones Street in Raleigh. But when you meet frequently behind closed doors, you do not get that objective point of view. You fall in love with your own ideas because you surround yourself with people whose motives are as single-minded as yours.

… In reading an Oct. 29, 2013 article from The Atlantic entitled “When Outsiders Take Over Schools: Lessons From Memphis,” I noticed that those who praise the (charter) Achievement School District’s efforts talked about the smaller classes, more one-on-one teaching, and tighter structure. If those are ingredients for success in turning around schools, then why are you advocating policies that remove class size caps, lower per pupil expenditures, and abolish teaching assistants in the very schools you hope will be taken over?

Other accolades given by parents to the ASD vouched for the dedication of the staff and teachers. Oddly enough, in North Carolina you and other GOP members have abolished due-process rights for new teachers, removed graduate degree pay, and targeted other ways to keep teachers from retiring in the profession in our state. If claiming that failing schools are the result of undedicated teachers, then you may need to consider the fact that current veteran teachers not only withstand government scorn, but work in worsening conditions, and still go out of their way to help all kids.

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