Thursday, March 23, 2017

Save our Teachers

There are much larger problems out there in the world, but I am posting this in hopes that it will be shared with the general public in NC. I have found that most people don't know about the current layoff/reassignment  that the art, music, and PE teachers are facing. When our last governor was in office, he created legislation to lower class sizes next school year in grades K-3. Right now class sizes are an average, but he created a hard cap so there is no flexibility at the school level.  Unfortunately, there were no additional funds allocated to create new school infrastructure or to hire additional teachers. The legislature has been giving schools additional funds for a while to help lower class sizes and add additional staff, however, they have not taken into consideration the large numbers of people moving into communities around our schools. Administrators have been adding additional classrooms, but the class sizes have not lowered as much as the legislature originally thought. Because of this, they did not add enough money to the budget to lower class sizes to the level they passed. That is the backstory for where we are now.  School districts went to the General assembly and let them know that in order to lower class sizes to the hard cap, they would have to eliminate positions in art, music, and PE.  When this happened, the North Carolina House created House Bill 13 to raise the class size back to a manageable number. However, the Senate is currently sitting on this bill and not passing it through. Principals will be receiving their teacher allotments very soon, but until the senate passes HB13 principals will not be able to sign contracts for those enhancement teachers to teach in their subject areas. Some counties have already cut positions, and other counties have been asked to create two schedules for next school year (one with and one without enhancements). Some teachers in our county have been told that they will be put into a regular classroom and asked to get additional certifications in order to teach a regular ed class. As of right now, if the Senate does not pass HB13 before schools start creating schedules and hiring for next year's positions, it will be too late. All of our art, music, and PE teachers are in jeopardy of either losing their jobs, being reassigned to another subject, or being reassigned to another area. There have also been talks about raising class sizes in grades 4 through 12 in order to accommodate the large number of teachers that will need to be hired to teach the additional kindergarten through 3rd grade classes. This means not only will our students not have art, music, and PE, but they will also be in unmanageably large classes after the third grade. I feel like this is something that all of my teacher friends, non-teacher friends, and family would want to know about. This has been on the news, but not in any large capacity. Teachers in other school districts seem to know more about this problem than many of the teachers in my county. I think that might be because our current superintendent wants to keep everyone, but it's really not in his control. 4,500 positions are at risk, plus without infrastructure and additional staffing funds- classes in conference rooms, more mobile units, and higher class sizes in upper grades.  
There are some things that we can do to try to get our legislators to PASS House Bill 13 (to raise class sizes back to a manageable number). Right now, the bill is in the Senate Rules Committee, co-chaired by Sen. Phil Berger (R, President Pro-Temp) and Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake Co.). Legislative observers have called the Rules Committee "a place bills go to die."
Here's what you can do:  

* Call the NC Senate 919-733-4111 and urge them to PASS HB13 to fix class size restrictions threatening art/music/PE teaching jobs across NC! 

* Sign the NCAE's petition to the Senate:

*Email Phil Berger:       Personal phone: 919-733-5708

*Email Chad Barefoot:      

Personal phone:  919-715-3036

This isn't something that "will never happen." It already has happened. Now it has to be reversed. They have no timeline for when they have to vote on this bill. I hope that we can show the legislature that they need to vote on this quickly, before it's too late.