Jerry Tillman

UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jailen Wallis (center) loves the idea of teaching, but the pay and the working conditions loomed too large as drawbacks to the profession.
Courtesy of Jailen Wallis

 UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jailen Wallis has always been tempted to become a high school English teacher.

A picture of an empty classroom.
f_a_r_e_w_e_l_l / Flickr

In Raleigh, Senate lawmakers are proposing a controversial tradeoff.

They want to cut funding for teacher assistants to hire more teachers and reduce classroom sizes in the early grades. Republicans argue that smaller classes will lead to better student outcomes, even if it’s at the cost of fewer teacher assistants.

Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Local school officials are struggling to make budget decisions without knowing how much money they will receive from the state.

House and Senate lawmakers passed a temporary spending plan earlier this month to keep the state running until August 14.

For school officials, that's a tight deadline.

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

Lawmakers in the state House have until the end of the day to file any bills they have not yet submitted. 

Hundreds of proposals are already up for debate this session. One plan would require university professors to teach four courses per semester to keep their salaries. 

WUNC File Photo

Despite concerns of overcriminalization, a Senate committee on Wednesday gave the first nod to a bill that would make it a felony offense for older students to assault school employees.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) said the provision would protect school personnel who faced more than 1,300 assaults in the last school year, according to the Department of Public Instruction.

“It needs some serious attention to highlight that this is a problem and you will get more than a slap on a hand if this occurs,” said Tillman.

Teachers and supporters carried heavy cardboard boxes of petition signatures calling lawmakers to raise the teacher pay to the national average.
Reema Khrais

College pennants hang from every open space in Chuck Hennessee’s classroom at Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill. He’s even strung some up on clotheslines from one side of the room to the other, so you have to duck to avoid them. But for Hennessee, it’s been a few years since his own graduation.

“I am a better teacher in my 29th year now than I was in my 25th and much better than I was in my 20th, my tenth, and it doesn’t even compare to my fifth and first year,” says Hennessee.

Glenwood Elementary students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

  State lawmakers say they want to create an education endowment fund to help pay high-performing teachers more money.

A proposed bill passed by a Senate Education Committee on Wednesday suggests collecting money for the fund through individual and business donations, tax refunds and special license plates.

Originally introduced by Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, the proposal presents a framework for an endowment and does not lay out the criteria for how the money is used.

Married couple Tracy and Britt Morton, both teachers at Apex High School, explain why they are leaving their current teaching positions. They spoke at a Wake County Schools news conference Thursday.
Reema Khrais

 An alarming number of Wake County teachers have resigned midway through this school year,  according to school officials. More than 600 teachers have left their jobs since July 2013, an increase of 41 percent from last year. Many critics say the current legislative policies and flat pay scale are discouraging teachers from staying the classroom. Listen to the full report below: 


Jerry Tillman
Dave DeWitt

Maybe it’s the name. A “Task Force” conjures up an image of a group of people rushing in, grabbing a problem around the neck, and wrestling a solution out of it.

Any notion that that might happen with the Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force was doused with cold water by co-chair Rob Bryan when he presented the group’s final report.

Teacher of the Year sign
Dave DeWitt

This is an issue with way more than just two sides. To illustrate how convoluted and complicated paying teachers has become, consider this fairly simple argument from Terry Stoops, the Director of Education Studies at the conservative John Locke Foundation:

“Frankly it’s unfair to our highest-performing teachers,” Stoops says. “There’s no reason why the Teacher of the Year in North Carolina should make as much as any other teacher.”

Now here’s an actual, real life North Carolina Teacher of the Year, who, in a free market, would get paid more:

Jerry Tillman
Dave DeWitt

Next month, a million or so North Carolina public-school students between third and twelfth grade will start taking tests. Lots of them. Reading and math tests for the younger kids; biology, Algebra, and English for the older kids.

Their scores will be tabulated and run through some servers at SAS Institute, a private company in Cary. There, software called EVAAS will compare the test score the student earned to one a statistical model predicted the student should get.

General Assembly
Dave DeWitt

Both houses of the State Legislature have passed a final $20.6 billion dollar budget. Much of today's debate in the House and Senate centered on the cuts to public education. Those cuts include eliminating about 2,000 teacher assistant positions and ending teacher tenure.

"You cut a half a billion dollars out of education in this budget in order to make up for the tax giveaway that you did for the wealthy and the out-of-state corporations," said Democrat Martin Nesbitt,  the Senate Minority Leader.

Most North Carolina school districts will not have to add five days to their upcoming school year. It's the second year that waivers have been granted from an extension mandated by the General Assembly. The State School Board authorized the waivers. Ninety-one of the state's 115 school districts have gotten them so far. Board Chairman Bill Harrison says teachers need those five days to prepare for new national curriculum standards. Plus, he says it would cost $14 million system-wide. State Senator Jerry Tillman is a major proponent of the school year extension.