This week in disappointment: New education laws prompt teacher to leave North Carolina | News Briefs | Indy Week
Pin It

This week in disappointment: New education laws prompt teacher to leave North Carolina 

The 2013 legislative session is over, and without the daily travesty to cover, This Week in Disappointment turns its attention to the on-the-ground impacts of the laws enacted over the past seven months.

In education, lawmakers march toward privatizing schools: ending salary increases for many teachers with a master's degree; no longer requiring charter schools to hire licensed teachers; allowing students to use vouchers—taxpayer money—to attend private schools, including religious ones, while draining $90 million from public schools statewide.

Alex Wilkins teaches high school civics, world history and economics, most recently as a substitute teacher in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. He earned his master's degree from UNC in 2008. He is now leaving the state to find a teaching job in Washington, D.C.

INDY Week: Why are you leaving North Carolina?

Alex Wilkins: It's been an unstable environment. That's the story for any teacher, as the district adjusts for growth and decides how many sections and teachers it needs to have.

The pay differential is a huge deal. For me, there would be no difference in pay between a master's and a bachelor's degree. [Lawmakers] are saying we want you to saddle yourself with debt, stick with it, and say you're noble for doing it.

So I started broadening my search. This is a good chance to get out of here and go where I would have a chance to make more. People in my situation—single, no kids, no deep roots to North Carolina—are looking to get out of the state. Some teachers can't or don't want to leave; they're not going to give up. But a fair share of them told me to get out of here while I can.

What do you think was on the minds of legislators?

Education is a very difficult thing. I've had friends who've taught at charter schools and had great experiences there, especially in rural areas where kids needed a different environment.

But the biggest problem the legislature did was to try everything at once: charter schools, vouchers, getting rid of tenure. They're throwing a grenade into something that's remarkably stable.

How do these policy decisions trickle down to the kids in the classroom?

The way it trickles down is in what the focus becomes. Testing is so inconsistent year to year. The first year, there were state-mandated tests; then there were no state tests. Then in the third year, there was a different test but the state didn't make it clear about the format and content—what needed to be emphasized—until very late in the school year. The teachers want the kids to do well on the tests, but we can't prepare a kid unless we know what will be tested. That's been very frustrating. You need to teach kids how to prepare for a challenge, and you're having to spend all this time getting them ready for something you can't explain.

How about the teachers personally?

You're resigned to deal with it. Once teachers get in the classroom, they get back into the swing of things. Being in the classroom is a relief.

The difficult part is outside of the classroom, at meetings with administrators or the school board to hear what the state is doing.

Teachers will have to deal with whatever the state is passing down. Teenagers and teachers are the same: They adapt.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Reality bites."

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News Briefs



Twitter Activity

Comments

The pedants arguing about terminology when the point is abundantly clear make me sick. You people are a blight on …

by Norf Cackalackie on How to Buy an Assault Rifle in North Carolina (News Briefs)

Ignoring the obvious gaping hole in journalistic integrity through the grossly misused "assault rifle" label for AR-15s, one would wonder …

by ChapelThrilla on How to Buy an Assault Rifle in North Carolina (News Briefs)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation