Teacher, Teacher! Where Would We be Now?

08-28-13-pub-notes.gifCurrently there is much controversy in North Carolina over the recent voting rights and education legislation signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory and our republican-leaning general assembly. Yes, North Carolina is getting a lot of air time on national TV and radio; though I’m not sure it’s the complimentary kind. Even high-pro관le Republican personalities like former Secretary of State Colin Powell is weighing in on McCrory’s voter ID position and labeling it a bad move for Republicans, noting that he considers it to be ineffective strategic planning. Wow! And that coming from a republican?

For me, honestly, I have no idea what’s going on up there in Raleigh. I just can’t figure out the strategy of either party.

Unfortunately, and like many Americans, I just don’t understand why our state and federal governments are so adept at finding, identifying, uncovering and exposing government waste, abuse, fraud and duplication yet they are totally powerless, or unwilling, to do anything about it. Go 관gure.

Both Republicans and Democrats continue throwing barbs at one another while continuing doing “business as usual” by ignoring horrendous circumstances that every American recognizes regardless of their social status, religion or race. Frustrating. So, now that we know the lay of the land, let’s talk about education in North Carolina and Cumberland County.

First of all, I will state the obvious: “Every politician we have elected are where they are today because of a dedicated teacher, professor or educational mentor. And, if asked, each and every one of them could recount fond and grateful memories of how those educators affected their lives and molded them into mature, responsible adults.

This being the case, why then are North Carolina teachers’ pay ranked as one of the lowest in the nation? That is a simple question, which lacks a simple answer.

However, I will say with some certainty that it is not because our current Republican administration does not value or appreciate the noble profession. Recently, an educator was quoted as “not having a raise in seven years.” Seven years? The McCrory administration is less than a year old. What were previous administrations doing about this? Educating young children has always been a valuable avocation. It is not a business where revenue and pro관ts drive corporate direction. Our entire economy is based on the simple concept of supply and demand. As more parents, high school and college counselors direct and push students into teaching professions, the glut of available qualified teachers will continue to grow keeping both the demand and the salaries down.

For sure, this is not to say we do not appreciate the people who we entrust with educating our children on a daily basis. And, if this is not enough justification there is an even bigger deterrent to higher teacher salaries: That is the passion, dedication and overwhelming desire professional teachers have to participate in developing, influencing and nurturing humanity. The truth be known, yes, teachers and teacher assistants deserve higher salaries, but the majority (silent) of dedicated educators are hard-working professionals and not doing it just for the money. Back to what I said earlier, there would be plenty of money for increased teacher salaries if local and state governments would focus on detecting and eliminating government waste, fraud, duplication of services and abuse of tax payers’ money.

North Carolina educators should stay focused and strive for not only higher salaries but also for higher measurable standards in education. If children are truly our future, then they should not be pawns used by individuals, organizations or political parties intent only on trying to further their cause.

Here in Cumberland County, I am extremely proud of our educational achievements and applaud the efforts of Superintendent Dr. Frank Till and his staff of administrators, principals, teachers and teacher assistants. All of whom, despite salaries that should be more reflective of their talents and achievements, succeeded in getting every school in Cumberland County accredited — feat that eluded Mecklenburg and Wake Counties.

In addition, the Cumberland County School District was recognized as one of the top four educational systems in the country and has become a finalist for the Broad Foundation Scholarship Award. The Broad Prize ($550,000) recognizes large urban school districts that show significant improvements over a four-year period. Cumberland County did not apply for this consideration; it was independently chosen out of the country’s 75 largest urban school districts serving a large percentage of low-income and minority students. We were one of four districts that had notable gains in overall student achievement and in reducing achievement gaps for low-income Hispanic and African-American children. Proof positive that we have a system that works.

A system dedicated to the profession of educating young children. A system full of educational professionals, staffers, principals, teachers and teacher assistants and all doing more with less. Why? Because they care. What price can be put on this? So, I guess if you are reading this, thank a teacher. They are priceless!

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly. Don’t forget you can go to our website at www.upandcomingweekly.com and subscribe free and receive our VIP edition directly to your computer Tuesday afternoon. Also, listen in to my show with Goldy and Jim on WFNC’s 640AM Good Morning Fayetteville every Wednesday.

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