Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NC Judge Blocks Law Asking Teachers to Give Up Tenure for Bonus

Last summer, our North Carolina Legislature handed all our state school administrators a hand grenade with the pin pulled. Under a law that they passed, school districts were tasked with finding a way to identify the "top 25%" of all teachers. The law did not specify how this identification was to be done, but it mandated that districts offer bonuses to whoever was identified as the top 25% of teachers in the schools. Then, those who accepted these bonuses were to automatically lose their tenure and be immediately placed on contracts.

The problem, as many districts quickly discovered, lay in trying to find a way to equitably identify this top 25 percent. You can't use just test scores because so many subject areas are not subject to testing. When it comes to other characteristics of teaching, how could you possible quantify and narrow down who falls in the top 25% category and not inadvertently and arbitrarily leave someone out who deserves the designation too? Some districts have struggled with trying to find a way to implement this impossible law, often wasting a great deal of man hours implementing what clearly has to be one of the most ridiculous laws passed during last year’s session.

That’s when some districts  decided to fight having to implement the law. Two districts, Guilford County and Durham School District challenged the law in court, and as WRAL is reporting, a judge has  issued injunction allowing these two districts to avoid implementing it. It's not clear yet whether that injunction applies across the state. (See "Judge Gives Teachers Victory in Tenure Battle.")

While the injunction blocking its implementation makes a great deal of sense, what is amazing from the WRAL story is how quickly Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger spokesperson Amy Auth tried to spin this as efforts by government bureaucrats "to deny top-performing teachers from receiving a well-deserved pay raise." What Ms. Auth apparently doesn't quite get is that the lawsuit wasn't brought on by bureaucrats; it was brought by a group of concerned educators and baord members as well as others who saw how ridiculous and impossible this law was to implement in the first place. Phil Berger has demonstrated he does not respect teachers and educators, and for his spokesperson to pretend to have the least bit of concern for teachers is beyond belief.

Under Phil Berger and Thom Tillis’s legislative leadership and with NC Governor Pat McCrory’s endorsement, North Carolina education suffered greatly last year. This North Carolina Legislature has worked extra hard to pass many of the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) laws. It is no secret that this legislature, Phil Berger, Thom Tillis and Governor Pat McCrory are do not appear to be friends to public education and to educators, and no amount of spin is going to hide that.

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