Category Archives: Teaching

Education Week Misses the Point

A very thoughtful article greeted me at Education Week.  I’m sure the author, editor and headline writer had the best of intentions.  They missed the point.

Words like ignorance, discrimination, and terrorism are embedded in our vernacular these days, especially when the conversation is about the LGBT community. Minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, these words are spoken and heard around the kitchen table, in public conversations, and on television.

The politicians come next. They make speeches from airports or the campaign trail, in front of state capitols or in the nation’s capital. Microphones in hand, they make their statements to their constituents. They always begin with their sadness and prayers for the families of the victims, and then they move on to how they would stop the madness. They end with how the other party always gets in the way. Another tragedy, another political opportunity.

Look closely, and you see what is missed.


Missing also is the word Muslim.

Lots of Stupid in One Place

We get these stories every few years:

Students in JoAnne Bolser’s middle school class were, at first, surprised when she gave them a math quiz that used pimps, gang members, and cocaine as test questions. Their surprise turned to shock when she told them the test wasn’t a joke.

The principal at Cranford Burns Middle School in Mobile, Alabama promptly placed the longtime educator on administrative leave after angry parents complained, NBC News reports.

Here are a few of the questions Bolser gave her eighth-grade class, via NBC:

“Tyrone knocked up 4 girls in the gang. There are 20 girls in his gang. What is the exact percentage of girls Tyrone knocked up?”

“Pedro got 6 years for murder. He also got $10,000 for the hit. If his common-law wife spends $100 of his hit money per month, how much money will be left when he gets out?”

The test has been floating around for years.  White lady teacher, about to retire. School year is almost done…  No biggie.  Then I saw this in the article:

Parent Erica Hall told NBC affiliate WPMI-TV that her son snapped a picture of the quiz and sent it to her. She and her husband, both outraged, visited the principal.

According to NBC, school communications director Rena Philips said Hall and her husband were the only parents to complain, even though a lot of anger was expressed on social media. She said school officials quickly addressed the issue:

“The principal looked into it and then our school resource officer investigated it and then we immediately put the teacher on administrative leave.”

The school resource officer is not generally an educator in charge of resources.

That’s what they call the in-house police officer.  The principal called in NOT the head of the department, NOT the Human Resources rep for the school and NOT anybody in educational administration.  The second step was to call in the on-campus police.

When the SRO slammed that high school girl to the floor in South Carolina, I questioned the use of the police in enforcing school rules.  There are police, and there are school employees.  Police should not be enforcing a “no phones” policy, and they sure have no reason to investigate a test passed out by a teacher.

Remind Me to Never Bother BusPassOffice

From Hogewash this morning:


I am still laughing at bill’s fake phone call yesterday and wondering if its worth contacting Cardinal Management to tell them how they select residents with multiple restraining orders to have the privilege in living in tax payer subsidized housing.

Like I said Bill, its your actions that – if you get evicted – its 100% your doing. Blaming and threatening people like me for pointing out your behavior, Dude its not a crime, a tort or harassment, we have the right and the duty to point out your child porn, your harassment and your support and associations with convicted pedophiles, terrorists, and failed bloggers.

Context, more context.

Lesson: Everybody knows Bill’s voice.  Everybody has already asked their supervisor to Google Bill Schmalfeldt.  Bill can only harm himself.  He should leave people alone.

Teacher Pay in North Carolina

Yesterday I wrote about teachers leaving North Carolina.  Even if you’re not from here, the factors affecting North Carolina probably affect your state as well.  Of course, this might have no significance, and you might want to skip this altogether.

Almost 15% of teachers in North Carolina in 2013 – 2014 left their position by the following school year.

John Hood of the John Lock Foundation and Carolina Journal says the figure is misstated.  He points out that North Carolina is a net importer of teachers, since we hire people from other states to replace the people who leave the North Carolina public school classroom.

This ignores two basic facts: Our teaching preparation programs in North Carolina can’t met the demand for qualified teachers, so we will probably always be a net importer of teachers.  Secondly, we are not importing highly experienced teachers as much as we import new teachers.  Sixteen years ago, that was me.  In New York State there were 400 applicants for every teaching job. My first NC school district interviewed me at an airport in Syracuse, and practically offered me a job on the spot.

When you lose teachers with experience, and gain teachers with none, then quality will suffer.  When August rolls around, and school districts are scrambling to fill classrooms, anyone with a license can get a job.

Why are teachers leaving the profession or leaving the North Carolina public school system?

Let’s consider pay.

Teachers draw pay from two sources: State base pay and local supplement. Poorer districts add 4% onto the state pay scale.  More affluent districts can afford up to 15% more pay.  I know of one district paying experienced teacher 25% above the state scale.

The Republican led General Assembly reconfigured the teacher pay scale last year.  Some folks got good raises.  Early career teachers especially saw a boost.  Something else happened also.  Take a look at the pay scale for teachers with a bachelor’s degree.  The left hand column is years of teaching.  In your first year you have zero years of service:

nc teacher salary

The beginning teacher salary has never been so good in North Carolina.  When you have 5 years of experience, you get a raise.  That’s your 6th year of teaching. Then things are steady for 5 more years, until you have 10 years of experience.  That’s your 11th year of teaching.

The same story follows all the way down the table.   Five years between raises gives a teacher plenty of time to figure out something else to do. It also gives teachers plenty of time to find other places to teach. You can’t see the bottom part of the document, but pay tops off in year 25, and never increases according to this scale.

Wallethub just ranked all 50 states plus the District of Columbia for teaching pay:


Yeah!  We beat West Virginia!

One other factor.  Those raises are contingent of a future General Assembly (legislature) following through.  During the Great Recession, there were no raises.  I understand why, but this pay scale has been put on hold, modified and frozen before.  Teachers know this.

The Wake County School District (including Raleigh) just approved a plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to approve local pay raises for all school personnel.  There plan is to meet the U.S. average.

I’m a teacher.  It’s what I do, and what I’ll do until retirement.  I don’t complain about my pay at all.

Based upon a lot of factors, I’ve figured that this is better than digging a ditch, and more rewarding.  But if North Carolina wants to stem the tide of teachers leaving the state, the pay scale needs to be considered.

Next time: Other factors

If True, Somebody Needed to Find This Out Decades Ago

The LA Times Reports:

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted this week to fire nationally recognized teacher Rafe Esquith, following a misconduct investigation that included allegations he made an improper joke to students and inappropriately touched minors, according to sources with knowledge of the decision.

The longtime educator at Hobart Avenue Elementary School, who has received national acclaim for his teaching and his bestselling books, has denied wrongdoing. -snip-

In a letter to Esquith’s attorneys in August, district officials said they were investigating RafeEsquith_300.jpgclaims that he inappropriately touched minors before and during his more than 30-year teaching career. The district also said the inquiry “revealed multiple inappropriate photographs and videos of a sexual nature.”

I don’t know of this guy, and can’t comment on the truth of the charges of course.  His lawyer, Mark Geregos says this has to do with a class-action lawsuit regarding the treatment of end-of-career teachers.  The district has been bringing up charges to deny benefits.  That seems pretty far out there.

Thirty years or more, and somebody is just now finding this out?

If it’s true..noose, tree.  Some assembly required.

Hey, North Carolina? Where’d All Your Teachers Go?

Teachers are leaving the profession in greater numbers and at higher percentages in North Carolina TURNOVER NCthan in previous years.  Others are just moving.

The turnover rate is now 14.84% though the rate of the exodus has slowed.

A study by the Albert Shanker Institute pegs the national rate at which teachers leave the profession as just below 8%.

I hate statistics, and the report summary demonstrates why.  Clearly you can make statistics say almost anything you want, if you’re willing to fib:


“Generally, teachers are remaining in the classroom in North Carolina.”  No, actually not.  14.84 % of all teachers from 2013-2014 are not in the classroom in North Carolina at all.  Jeesh!  That’s almost half!

This article points to the fact that increasingly, North Carolina teachers are moving out of state to teach. About 1,000 jumped ship:


Source: NC Dept. of Public Instruction

The two rows under the yellow row are important.  460 teachers left public schools to go to private or quasi-private charter schools.  So almost 1,500 teachers left the regular North Carolina classroom for non-public schools.  Of course the figure is higher, since some people gave up teaching, then moved or went back to school.

There are great reasons to teach in North Carolina.  It is a beautiful place, with lots of wonderful places to visit.  You can find inexpensive homes, but all new construction is $200,000 plus according to the signs I see.  We have mountains and beaches.  We’re bursting at the seams with Yankee and Midwestern transplants and new immigrants from Central America.  Most districts in population centers are growing.  If you really want to teach, there are plenty of jobs.

For now, staying in the profession seems to take some stubbornness.

I’ll get to that topic in a later post.