Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An Open Letter to the NC GOP

An Open Letter to the NC GOP:

You have failed the children of your state.

This is not meant to be just a dramatic sentiment that pulls the heartstrings of the reader. It is meant to remind the people who put you into office that you are incapable of doing what is best for children.  

With your new budget, you have effectively dismantled the education system in your state and sent a clear message to all of your teachers. That message is: get out while you can.

Who among you in the legislature wants to feel devalued in their profession? Who among you would like to better themselves professionally at your own expense without seeing the rewards of doing so? Who among you would like the rug pulled out from under you every time you turn around? Who among you would like to lose their job when a poorly constructed performance evaluation indicates that you are terrible at what you do though the parameters of the evaluation are, in large part, beyond your control? Who among you qualifies for public assistance as an educated and employed professional?

A decade ago, there were projections being made about the number of teachers that North Carolina would need in the coming years. At the time, back in 2003, it was tens of thousands. Because of the populations of students in some of your neediest areas, teacher turnover was already excessively high, and that’s before factoring in class sizes, high-stakes testing, and low pay. Exclusive of teacher assistants, NC has approximately 90,000 teachers teaching approximately 1.5 million students. That’s a ratio of about 1 teacher for every 17 students, a generalization that doesn’t factor in geography, population concentrations, content area numbers or grade level numbers. That generalization also doesn’t factor in which of those 90,000 teachers are Special Ed or intervention level support. We do know that class sizes are already too large in many cases and they are about to get larger.

The legislature has paved a road of inequity upon which a mass exodus of teachers in your state will walk.

When you planned for the gutting of education in NC, did you also plan for the consequences; the ramifications of your actions? What will this mean a year from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Is public education blatantly being sidelined in preparation for the privatization of learning, a step that will reward the haves and punish the have nots? Did you plan for who will ultimately clean up the mess you’ve created, which, in the long run will be potentially more expensive than justly funding education in the first place?

I’m ashamed of your willingness to make your constituents feel abandoned and hopeless. I’m sad that the pervasive mood going into the next school year is one of defeat, anguish, and despair. I’m deeply troubled that students will ultimately be the ones affected when the quality teachers move on to greener pastures.

The only hope I have is that those NC Teachers going back into their classrooms this Fall will teach civic responsibility, community values, and critical thinking like they’ve never taught them before, so that this generation doesn’t grow up believing that public education is an undeserving budgetary castaway. I hope that NC Teachers will teach how deeply we must know our elected officials and what they stand for and what they won’t stand for.

I also hope that your children, especially those in public schools, have what they need to be prepared for college or careers in light of the extraordinary obstacles you have placed in front of your state’s teachers.

I stand in solidarity today with my educator brothers and sisters in North Carolina.

Mike Fisher
Former NC Teacher

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