Nancy M. Austin: Teaching means sharing

December 14, 2013 

The teachers in the Wake County Public School System in which I serve are wondering how Sen. Phil Berger’s 25 percent contracts will be implemented. We don’t know if his plan to offer additional salary only to 25 percent of the teachers within a school means the “top 25 percent” or the “favorite 25 percent” or the “best-connected 25 percent.” But we do know that this plan can serve only to stifle collaboration and pit teacher against teacher. Such an environment will not benefit students.

For the past six years, our teachers have done very important work in professional learning teams. These teams consist of teachers who teach the same subject and grade level within the school. Currently, these teams are required to meet at least bi-weekly to analyze benchmark testing data and to share effective teaching strategies.

Berger’s plan, inserted into the state budget, is a bad idea for N.C.’s teachers and our schools. I am concerned that teachers will be reluctant to freely and openly share successful teaching strategies with colleagues in the competitive environment that this poor legislation will create. Earlier in my 20-plus years of teaching, many teachers taught in isolation and were not inclined to share effective teaching strategies. I fear this legislation will once again foster that type of environment. N.C.’s education system and its students will suffer.

Nancy M. Austin

Sixth grade teacher, West Lake Middle School


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