Regarding the June 22 Point of View “For my devalued students, I sat”: As a former teacher and turnaround coach of 18 years, I can say with certainty that the 14 teachers who sat in the road during rush-hour traffic were more interested in creating irresponsible publicity than engaging in constructive dialogue.
After attending their news conference, I offered to meet with them and welcomed the opportunity to discuss their agenda. At noon on the day of their protest, their leader informed a reporter that I was an “unacceptable substitute” for the governor.
However, I went to the Capitol at 5 p.m. anyway hoping they had changed their minds. When I arrived, the group was already in the street blocking rush-hour traffic rather than engaging in dialogue or offering viable solutions to build on our state’s recent successes.
These few activists do not represent North Carolina’s teachers. Gov. Pat McCrory and I have traveled across the state to meet with teachers and always have constructive dialogue, without cameras, about how we can continue to improve the teaching profession and provide educational opportunity for all students.
It’s important to note that the protesters arrested were sponsored by the N.C. Association of Educators, which endorsed another candidate for governor before the end of the candidate filing period.
Teacher pay in North Carolina is growing faster than in any other state in the country under McCrory’s leadership. Since 2013, North Carolina has invested more than $1 billion in teacher raises, and the budget signed by McCrory increases average teacher pay to more than $50,000 for the first time in state history.
This is a far cry from where we were when I was a teacher under a previous administration and pay was frozen for three consecutive years. But that’s not all. K-12 education funding has increased by 18 percent under McCrory. In fact, 57 cents of every taxpayer dollar spent goes to fund education. That means that 57 percent of our $22.3 billion General Fund budget is spent on education, compared with a national average of 46 percent. Funding for textbooks and digital resources has tripled under this administration, and we are leading the nation in school connectivity.
When the governor entered office in 2013, only 22 percent of classrooms in our state were connected to robust Wi-Fi. By leveraging investments of more than $130 million, North Carolina will now be one of the first states in the nation to connect all classrooms to Wi-Fi by 2018.
North Carolina has the highest graduation rate in state history at 85 percent, and elementary school reading scores have significantly improved. However, none of this seems to matter to these politically motivated special interest groups that have demonstrated complete disregard for the facts.
Let’s set a positive example for our students. It’s time to put the politics, microphones and cameras aside and have open, respectful dialogue about how we can continue to move education forward in North Carolina.
Senior education adviser to Gov. Pat McCrory
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the Point of View.