The Wake County school system’s very public call on Thursday for higher teacher pay and revisiting the issues of eliminating tenure and phasing out extra pay for advanced degrees will likely be seen as a political gesture, especially by Republicans.
But as noted in today’s article, Wake County school leaders and those who spoke at Thursday’s press conference about the rise in teacher resignations say they were not trying to make it a political issue. Jackie Jordan, the principal of Underwood Elementary School, was asked if what Wake’s call for higher pay would be considered a case of Democrats vs. Republicans.
“I think every single person who lives in North Carolina has a reason to want a strong public school system and it doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is,” Jordan answered. “This is a state issue. If you value North Carolina, you want North Carolina to continue to be the great state that it is. This is an issue that you care about.”
Tracy Morton, an Apex High School healthful living and physical education teacher, also said it’s not a political issue. She and her husband, Britt, also a PE teacher at Apex High, are leaving for higher-paying teaching positions in Georgia.
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“We’re the future to society,” Tracy Morton said. “We allow that. We are teaching the doctors and the lawyers and the people that are going to take care of you in the future, all of that, anything that’s needed to run a society, no matter what the education level is needed.
Just like your school system or your school – the principal, administrators, the teachers, the custodial staff – you have to have that whole family as a unit to work. And it’s the same within the system with regards to money and everything else.
It has to be in communication with everybody, just not Republican, Democrat. You know decisions like this, this isn’t political. This has become personal because you need to take care of the people that do teach the future.”
Wake Superintendent Jim Merrill said they were simply using the data to warn people about the issue of increasing numbers of teacher resignations.
“We are not about politics today,” Merrill said in an interview. “We are here to raise an alarm about losing high-quality teachers.”
But State House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, was skeptical that the figures Wake pointed to show a problem as dire as school leaders are making it to be.
“There is nothing particularly alarming in this report, other than WCPSS cherry-picking numbers to fit its narrative,” Stam wrote in an email message.