Education group urges NC teachers to reject contracts

Posted by Lynn Bonner on February 3, 2014 

North Carolina Association of Educators president Rodney Ellis speaks Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, in front of the N.C. Legislative building as lawmakers reconvene to potentially override two vetoes by Gov. Pat McCrory.

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A state education group is asking teachers to reject contracts that districts are offering them to replace tenure.

Teacher tenure is being phased out under a new law, to be replaced with contracts of one- to four years. To start, school districts must offer 25 percent of their best teachers four-year contracts. Those teachers who sign give up their tenure, but receive pay increases of $500 a year for a total of $5,000 over the four years.

The N.C. Association of Educators filed suit late last year to stop the law. This month, NCAE is asking teachers reject contracts if they’re offered.

“It’s asking folks to stand in solidarity against something we feel would be very divisive in public schools,” said NCAE President Rodney Ellis. “It will eliminate the idea of working collaboratively in classrooms.”

School boards have complained about the contract law and how they’ll have to implement it. Nine school boards have passed resolutions opposing the contract law, Ellis said.

NCAE is asking teachers to give up bigger paychecks at a time when teacher salaries in the state are notoriously low.

“As educators, we understand the financial constraints,” Ellis said. “If someone decided to take the contract, we would respect the decision. But a number of teachers are going to stand united to say we don’t want this in our schools.”

Senate leader Phil Berger was not available for comment, but his office pointed to an op-ed he signed that addressed the need to move to teacher contracts.

In it, Berger referred to the relative handful of teachers – 17 – dismissed for cause in 2011-12.

“Clearly, our school administrators couldn’t remove underperforming teachers from classrooms,” he wrote. “Why? Because of guaranteed lifetime employment offered through the outdated teacher tenure system. The new system allows teachers to work under contracts that are renewed based on performance – like nearly every other profession. Change isn’t always easy. But it’s time to embrace this opportunity to empower our children to reach their full potential.”

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