News: Quick Takes

Red4EdNC wants to fix N.C. public education system

Red4EdNC, a nonprofit education advocacy group, isn’t happy with the state of public education in North Carolina. The group, composed of public school teachers, on Friday, Aug. 24, shared a litany of concerns with how the General Assembly has handled public education.

Angela Scioli, a social studies teacher at Leesville Road High School, founded Red4EdNC in 2013. The goal of the organization, its website says, is to help shape the state’s education policy agenda.

“We’re awakening to the fact that there has been a significant change in the resources and pay structure for teachers in North Carolina,” Scioli said. “Ever since then we have been seeking a redress to these kinds of issues.”

On July 4, Red4EdNC released the Declaration in Defense of North Carolina’s Public Schoolchildren. The document is a list of what ails the public education system and proposes solutions to these problems. More than 500 teachers in 104 of the 115 school districts have signed the declaration.

On Aug. 24, Red4EDNC hosted seven scheduled news conferences across the state to share some of its grievances.

Red4EdNC says the General Assembly has failed to restore public education funding to pre-recession levels and have burdened local governments with unfunded mandates to reduce class sizes.

They also take issue with the Opportunity Scholarships program, which they claim shifts money from public schools to private schools without sufficient accountability. The declaration also criticizes the state for lifting the charter school cap and eliminating the Teaching Fellows program.

Scioli said legislators need to include teachers and other educational stakeholders when crafting education policy.

Terry Stoops, vice president of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation, said that while he agrees with the group’s call for a more transparent General Assembly, he’s skeptical of its claims about widespread teacher dissatisfaction.

“It directly contradicts the 2018 teacher working condition survey,” Stoops said.

The 2018 Teacher Working Condition Survey shows 87 percent of teachers think their school, overall, is a good place to work and to learn. Eighty-one percent of teachers said their school environment clean and well-maintained, and 76 percent believe they have sufficient teaching supplies.

“So there’s a couple of possibilities here,” Stoops said. “Either the working condition survey is baloney and [Red4EdNC] is actually representing the attitude of what most teachers feel, or the survey is correct and these teachers happen to be a vocal minority.”

Scioli said the teachers’ working conditions survey isn’t a good measure of how they actually feel about their schools and the state’s educational system.

“When we take that working condition survey there is huge confusion in the teaching core about what we’re actually talking about,” Scioli said. “When I take that survey I don’t know if I am rating my local administrators in my school with how they’re doing, or if I’m looking at my district or my state.”

Scioli said an improved survey would ask more specific questions to avoid confusion.

As far as improving the state’s public education system goes, the Red4EdNC declaration offers a few recommendations.

For one, Red4EdNC wants lawmakers to increase per-pupil funding, adjusted for inflation, to pre-recession levels. The group wants the same for teachers’ and principals’ salaries. They want lawmakers to focus on removing poverty-related barriers to education and recommend lawmakers focus on promoting policies leading to racial and economic integration in schools.

Stoops said the group has outlined a wide variety of broad proposals but hasn’t offered a means of paying for these visions.

“The biggest problem I find with their entire platform is that they’re calling on spending increases without specifying how they’re going to pay for it,” Stoops said. “They refuse to say taxes would have to be increased to pay for the teacher pay increases and the per-student expenditure increases that they’re asking for.”

It’s up to lawmakers to figure out how these proposals would be accomplished, Scioli said.

“We have no idea how legislators would achieve these things,” Scioli said. “It’s not really our job. We just know they need to be done.”

 



  • frosty888

    With the hyper partisanship of the NEA it is very hard to not see this as another democrat attack group hoping to influence the elections.

  • DaTruuf

    The “red” is for COMM(unit)Y, get it!?! Oh what to do with the education system….we have teachers that are now apparently political activists, as well as “teachers.” They even went so far to organize a one day strike to collectively bargain for more money. All for the kids, you know….

  • Fremont V. Brown III

    Here is just SOME key provisions of the 2018-2019 North Carolina budget
    For Education:

    Increases funding
    for public education by nearly $700 million.

    Fully funds K-12,
    community college and public university enrollment growth.

    Provides $35
    million for school safety initiatives, including new grant
    programs to support students in crisis, school safety training,
    safety equipment and youth mental health personnel.

    Invests an
    additional $11.9 million in textbooks and digital resources,
    bringing the total annual state funding for textbooks to $73.9
    million – a $71.4 million increase from the last
    Democrat-authored budget.

    Directs
    additional lottery funds toward grants to economically
    struggling, rural counties to assist with critical public school
    building needs.

    Maintains smaller
    class sizes in core academic subjects and keeps a new salary
    allotment for kindergarten through fifth grade program enhancement
    teachers – like music, art and physical education – beginning
    next school year.

    Increases funding to
    Eastern North Carolina STEM.

    Doubles the number
    of local school districts eligible to participate in the “TA to
    Teacher” program that helps teacher assistants receive training
    to become teachers.

    Protects the Read to
    Achieve, Teach for America, and Communities in Schools programs from
    being cut by the Department of Public Instruction.

    Allocates close to
    $15 million to community colleges for workforce training programs.

    Fully funds the
    N.C. Promise Program, which guarantees in-state undergraduate
    students at three schools across the state pay just $500 per
    semester for tuition.

    Includes new funding
    for medical education, including funding increases to the UNC School
    of Medicine’s Asheville campus.

    Increases funding
    for Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants by more than $3
    million to reduce the wait list.

    Yes, North Carolina
    Republicans are preparing North Carolina for the Future. I hope your
    choice at the Polls are Republicans and YOU help prepare North
    Carolina for the Future.

  • Fremont V. Brown III

    The State budget strengthens our public education
    system by increasing funding by more then $1.5
    billion over two years. They have reduced
    class sizes. This gives teachers more time to
    work with each student and help them
    prepare our students for abetter future for them and our state.

    The Republican Legislature has increased teacher pay an average of almost
    10% over two years, raising their base pay by almost 20% since
    2013-14 school year. They put $35 million into grants for students
    in crisis, school safety training and equipment. Created
    the Teaching Fellows program to attract and retain Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and special education teachers. Yes, the North Carolina Republican Party CARES
    about our students and teachers.

  • kirtl

    I have to assume this site does not allow videos or links in the comments. If you truly want to see leadership in education look up Katharine Birbalsingh. If this comment is deleted like my last, I can only assume Carolina Journal does not wish to improve education.