Teachers across the state have recently rejected bonus contracts offered to the top 25 percent.
These contracts came about when the state responded to opinions on teachers’ salaries and public school funding.
The legislature responded by attempting to pick the top 25 percent of teachers to receive these raises, which also require recipients to give up tenure.
“I think the 25 percent contracts are garbage for a couple reasons,” history teacher Bryan Proffitt said. “These contracts are getting rid of career status for teachers in North Carolina.”
Currently, career status means that if a teacher has been teaching in a school district for up to four years, they are eligible, not automatically, able to achieve career status, if they demonstrate they are quality teachers.
“Without career status they can fire anybody for anything,” said Proffitt.
The fight about teacher pay is connected to the 14-point agenda set by progressive activists for the state, which is a list of things they want to see. The majority of the agenda centers around racial justice, economic justice, justice for people in the criminal justice system who should not be in it, getting people out of poverty and having quality public schools.
The NAACP and many other organizations are involved in supporting this agenda.
In Raleigh last month, this coalition gathered at the State Capital Building downtown. Thousands of people marched on Jones Street. The HK on J (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) March has been going on for about 10 years.
“It’s about bringing together people from across the state who are committed to social and economical justice, who are committed to making sure workers are fully compensated for the jobs they do,” said history teacher Nicholas Graber-Grace.
He added that the commitment is to make sure decisions that government makes represent the best interests of all families in North Carolina, not just those who are wealthy, but those that benefit kids, workers and “our communities.”
Graber-Grace said he is excited because it seems like more people are getting involved this year like parents starting to realize the concerns their kids are facing.
He cited the numerous standardized tests many students take as an example.
“Giving hundreds of standardized tests in one year to third graders doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Thousands of hours are wasted that could be useful instruction time that they can learn to read instead of being tested on reading. We’ve got policies that are hurting students.”
Teachers have pointed to budgets that have fallen to 48th in student funding and 46th in teacher pay in the nation.
“More people are standing up and doing things and are more willing to take action,” Graber-Grace said.