Friday, 26 October 2018 05:04

North Carolina Association of Educators Endorses Mills for State Senate

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North Carolina Association of Educators North Carolina Association of Educators Image courtesy of NCAE

RICHMOND COUNTY - The Richmond Observer received the following "Letter to the Editor" in conjunction with the upcoming election and the endorsement of a particular candidate:

To my fellow District 25 Voters:

Now that it’s election time, everyone running for the NC General Assembly claims to support public education. So what is just political rhetoric and what is the truth?

If public education is important to you, you should know that Helen Probst Mills has received the endorsement of the North Carolina Association of Educators, the largest professional organization of educators in the state.

This begs the question, “If incumbent Senator Tom McInnis is doing all he claims for our students, schools, and teachers, why no endorsement?”

Before every major election NCAE sends a questionnaire on educational issues to every candidate. Senator McInnis chose not to return their questionnaire. I just received a McInnis flyer which states that Mrs. Mills “...refused to return the NRA questionnaire”, earning her a ”?”. The flyer further states, “...a rating of ‘?’ often indicates indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights.”

If this is true, it must follow that Senator McInnis made the deliberate choice of guns and hunting over education. So what about his claims on reducing class size and teacher raises 4 years in a row?

LOWER CLASS SIZES: Yes, the 2017-18 budget included a reduction in class size for K-3 BUT no additional funding for the extra classrooms and teachers required to meet this mandate. After public outcry, the GA passed HB 90, allowing a more gradual reduction of class sizes but still inadequate funding. The damage won’t be felt until after the election — increased class sizes in grades 4-12 and more non-certified substitute teachers in our classrooms because NC already has a shortage of qualified, experienced teachers.

TEACHER RAISES: Yes, the GA provided raises for teachers the last 4 years in a row, but only for SOME teachers! That historic raise they touted was an average — some got 16%, some got .29% (Yes, that’s POINT 29), some got zero. The average salary is also based on state salary PLUS local supplements which range from $0 to over $8000, depending on the district. On the 2018-19 salary scale, a 15 year teacher only makes $166.66 less per month than a 25, 30, or 35 year teacher!

BUT — those 15 year teachers will not receive another penny until year 25, and then NO more raises. Ever. How many students will this recruit into teaching?

NC state employees earn a longevity bonus for their years of service. But after years of frozen/declining teacher salaries, the GA ended longevity — but ONLY for teachers and principals. They took it away, then gave it back and called it a “raise”. Now 25+ year teachers get $385 - the “Veteran Teacher Retention Bonus”. I’m thinking the $2600 I should have gotten this year would help retain more of our experienced teachers.

The GA rewards performance-based bonuses and subjects. The majority of NC teachers do not have access to these bonuses.  Disheartening? You bet.

NC now has a $15 minimum wage for all state workers — EXCEPT for our hardworking, crucial educational support personnel like cafeteria staff, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, etc. Why??

Senator McInnis recently wrote an editorial that suggested teachers now earn “...$237,200 more over a 30 year career” than on the old Democrat pay scale. Yet as a 30 year teacher in 2008-2009, I would have earned $1682 MORE than I will earn in 2018-19.

Senator McInnis promotes “school choice”. That means hundreds of millions on unaccountable charter schools and private school vouchers. Maybe every teacher could get a fair raise if the GA focused less on private/corporate schools and more on fully funding our traditional public schools. If you truly value public education, ignore the political propaganda. You know actions speak louder than words! Public education is still the great equalizer in our society; we need representatives who will safeguard and support it. NCAE, NC’s strongest voice for educators and students, endorses Helen Probst Mills over the incumbent based his actions as well as her promise to fight for public education. If this is a priority for you, maybe you should, too.


Jennifer Richardson Byrd

30 year veteran, National Board Certified Teacher

President - Richmond County Association of Educators


Editor's note:  It is the policy of the Richmond Observer to print “Letter to the Editor” news  material in its original format, as it was received, with minimal, if any, editorial adjustments. 


Last modified on Thursday, 25 October 2018 12:37