Supporting Teachers

Last evening my son and I attended a forum at Culbreth Middle School about teacher pay. There were a number of panels. First teachers spoke (including one of my son's teachers from Carrboro High School). They shared stories about how hard it was to make it on teacher pay especially since their salaries have been frozen at the same pay scale step since 2007. State statistics show that an unusually high number of teachers are leaving for other states or are quitting the profession. High school and middle school students talked about their teachers and how sad it was that many of their teachers have decided to leave.  Aaron Nelson spoke for the local business community. He mentioned the positive impact a good school system has on the economy and that they support paying more for education. Finally the local superintendent, 3 state reps and 1 state senator spoke about the budgets and politics. A pleasant surprise was that one rep was a Republican from Guilford/ Greensboro who supports increased pay for all teachers. I think it is very important to reestablish the salary steps for teachers and to realize that the various "merit pay" systems are not motivators for teachers and don't bring salaries to appropriate levels. Verla Insko pointed out that for the short term if we can get the state assembly to freeze the next step of the "tax reform" that would lower corporate and income tax even more, that would add $250,000,000 to state revenues and enable for salaries to be raised for all teachers rather than for just the newest teachers as now proposed. One theme that I heard I think is important to counter because it is a false generalization: " you get what you pay for" and "if salaries remain low the good teachers will leave only only bad teachers will remain" Better salaries and working conditions will make it easier to recruit and retain good teachers, but many good, experienced teachers will stay because they know their job is important and they want to help their students. It is important to recognize the importance of experienced teachers to the schools.

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