It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, when we show teachers they are valued. While this week is full of important gestures, the ultimate way to show teacher appreciation is to give resources needed every school day, so we can equip and compensate teachers properly.
At the beginning of each school year, parents and teachers have to dig into their own wallets to foot the bill for classroom supplies. Even though our community pays 60 percent of property taxes, and half our state budget for public education, it still doesn’t seem to be enough for kids to have pencils and tissue boxes in their classrooms. It’s a fraud. The issue isn’t a lack of funds, it’s one of budget mismanagement and the extravagant funding of politically charged curriculum and programs. The Wake County School Board spent $9 million on the Office of Equity to study divisive books such as “Multiplication is for White People,” and to force teachers into reading books about “whiteness”, and then punishes those who don’t comply. Wake County Public Schools operates on a $2.1 billion a year on education – our well-funded school district is underfunding students and teachers.
Wake County is the second wealthiest in the state, but spends $8,443 per public school student, while Berdie, the poorest county in NC, spends $12,383 per student, which is the U.S national average for spending per student. On average, NC spends $10,632 per student, and has been previously ranked 40th in the nation because of insufficient funding of schools. After the US Census Report, our state was given an “F” in student funding, which makes Wake County an “F minus.” While teacher pay has been steadily improving, it’s still not competitive enough to maintain and attract the best teachers. With Wake’s resources, we should be the gold standard for education and teacher pay in accordance with the area’s cost of living.
The North Carolina Teacher of the Year makes the same base salary as every other teacher with the same experience and credentials. As your next school board member, I would advocate to increase teacher pay using a performance-based scale to retain and reward high performing educators. The current pay system pushes higher-performing teachers into administrative and non-instructional roles. We should compensate educators according to ability and initiative instead of giving equal pay to all – – a concept which has never worked.
Besides fairly compensating teachers, we need to give them resources to succeed. Especially with integrated classrooms, the number of students per class creates a challenge for both teachers and students. Teachers are managing large class sizes while addressing a variety of learning styles, behavioral issues, lack of resources and many without teachers’ aides. We are putting too much on our classroom teachers, and I will advocate for smaller class sizes, and giving each classroom a teachers’ aide where appropriate.
Creative freedom for teachers is another area not often addressed. The state standards are written by the NC Department of Public Instruction, and while it’s important to have general guidelines, we need to ensure teachers have the flexibility to gauge their classrooms and decide which approaches are best, with the understanding that instruction should not be politically driven. There is no administrator sitting in Raleigh who can better decide how to teach an individual classroom than the teachers themselves.
This week I’ll be shopping with my children to find ways to make their teachers feel appreciated. When I’m elected, I will continue to show my value to educators by involving them in important decision-making discussions on how to best equip teachers, students, and parents to make Wake County number one in North Carolina.
Chip in today and help give schools back to parents.