For the past year, Republican lawmakers have targeted North Carolina’s teachers for punitive treatment in retaliation for teachers speaking up about the negative effect of budget cuts on public education. The GOP’s pattern of behavior is very clear. Since taking office, they have repeatedly passed or attempted to pass legislation that erodes teachers’ rights and made public statements that demean and demoralize teachers. Example, from Thom Tillis, the leader of the NC House: “They don’t care about kids. They don’t care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions.
UPDATE: At a recent Town Hall in Jacksonville, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis offered this rationale for cutting $1 billion from education… he claimed he has heard no “constructive suggestions” for education reforms or improvements.
HELP TILLIS OUT! OFFER YOUR CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTIONS ON EDUCATION HERE.
Here are the facts that support our belief that the General Assembly is targeting teachers and making them the scapegoat for their slash-and-burn budget:
- The GOP’s state budget slashed public school funding by over $400 million, forcing the layoffs of 1,800 teachers and teacher assistants. Overall, 4,300 classroom jobs were eliminated.
- The state budget cut staff development funds and eliminated professional development services like the NC Teacher Academy and the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
- The budget also eliminated the NC Teaching Fellows program that provides college scholarships to our best and brightest students who want to become public school teachers in North Carolina.
- Lawmakers also attempted to cut pay for teachers and other state employees by requiring health insurance premiums for the first time, without any pay increases.
- Teachers have been treated with contempt by legislative leadership. House Speaker Thom Tillis said this about teachers: “They don’t care about kids. They don’t care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions.”
- And finally, the dues-checkoff bill was the last straw. The bill was nothing more than political payback, as admitted by Tillis in a House Republican Caucus meeting when he said: “It’s just a little taste of what’s to come.”
In response to the veto override vote, North Carolina Association of Educators President Sheri Strickland had this to say: “The Association believes the passage of this legislation – an override of Governor Perdue’s veto — to be a retaliatory action against NCAE for standing up for public school students and educators. The message from the legislature is clear – if you stand against cuts to public education, we will teach you a lesson. If you point out that they have taken North Carolina to nearly dead last in per pupil funding, you will be bullied. If you say that we are short-changing our students, we will try and silence your voice.”
What we want to know is this:
“Who will state lawmakers pursue a vendetta against next?”
Do you have a teacher who changed your life for the better? Please post your story on this special page. If our leaders in Raleigh cannot show them the respect and gratitude they deserve, the people of North Carolina can.