NCAE Contract Law Paper2013

I. Elimination of Career Status II. The New North Carolina Contract System of Employment III. Selection of 25% of Teache...

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I. Elimination of Career Status II. The New North Carolina Contract System of Employment III. Selection of 25% of Teachers for Four-Year Contracts IV. Issues for Teachers Making Choices V. How Can We Act Together

Teacher and School Administrator Contracts Ann McColl, General Counsel The Appropriations Act of 2013 includes legislation that radically alters employment for educators in North Carolina’s public schools.1 Districts are scrambling to sort out the perplexing requirement to offer four-year contracts to 25 percent of educators on the teacher salary scale. This requirement is a drastic shift from a system that has been in place since 1971 and refined over time to balance administrative efficiency and fairness2. This memorandum details the requirements of 1, 2, and 4 year contracts and explains the impact of eliminating career status on the teaching profession and the public school system. These assertions are the interpretation of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), an association representing thousands of educators across North Carolina. Members of the NCAE are encouraged to contact the NCAE Legal Advocacy Center with questions or individual concerns at http://www.askncae.org/. The NCAE welcomes the opportunity to work with school districts and their attorneys to implement the requirements of the legislation in a manner that minimizes harm and keeps quality educators in the classroom. The most important context for local action is considering how to address the message implicit in this legislation that teachers are not valued in this State. As a public education community, we must respond in a way to give good teachers a reason to stay in our schools.

I. ELIMINATION OF CAREER STATUS The Appropriations Act of 2013 (“budget bill”) strips away career status from teachers and school administrators and denies the opportunity for career status to teachers in the pipeline. Career status ensures an opportunity to be heard and a reasonable basis for being dismissed or demoted. When state law changed the system of employment of school administrators from career status to contracts in 1993, it grandfathered those who had achieved career status and allowed those in the pipeline to continue on the path for career status.3 These career administrators now will have their career status removed on July 1, 2014. The budget bill takes away career status of teachers in 2018, forcing all teachers to be placed on 1-, 2-, or 4-year contracts. (The option for 25 percent of teachers to voluntarily relinquish their career status in 2014 is addressed below.) Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2013, § 9.6, 2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360, available here. 2 An Act to Establish an Orderly System of Employment and Dismissal of Public School Personnel, ch. 883, 1971 N.C. Sess. Laws 1396. 3 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-287.1; Act of June 24, 1993, ch. 210, 1993 N.C. Sess. Laws 390. 1

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Educators who have already earned career status have a contractual right to maintain it. Career status is a part of a contractual right afforded by the State. It has long been understood that employment protections were a part of the package deal that made low salaries more attractive. The NCAE will be filing a lawsuit against the State for violating state and federal constitutional rights based on these contract principles. We anticipate the litigation to be filed later this year or the beginning of 2014.

II. THE NEW NORTH CAROLINA CONTRACT SYSTEM OF EMPLOYMENT What happens in 2014? Types of employment: (School administrators lose their career status and are placed on contracts. Teachers can maintain their career status in lieu of a contract.) 1-year contracts 4-year contracts What happens in 2018? Types of employment: (Elimination of career status for all teachers.) 1-year contracts 2-year contracts 4-year contracts

Some in the public education community mistakenly believe that this legislation moves teachers to the same form of contract that school administrators have had since the 1990’s. This has led some to say that since the system of contracts has been satisfactory for school administrators, it also should work for teachers. In addition to significant differences in the balance of interests reflected in employment of administrators and teachers, it is also very important to understand that this is not the same system of contracts that has been in place. This new contract system significantly diminishes the rights of school administrators and gives teachers even fewer rights. Some of these elements are described below. 1. Any single standard rating below proficient is an automatic ground for dismissal during the term of the contract. This completely undermines the use of the evaluation instrument as a formative assessment and will discourage innovation. Inadequate performance has long been a ground for dismissal of career status employees, probationary teachers, and school administrators during the term of a contract. This law changes the definition of inadequate performance to include “the failure to perform at a proficient level on any standard of the evaluation instrument”. 4Prior to this, the law allowed the principal to note “on the instrument that the teacher is making adequate progress toward proficiency given the circumstances.”5 This language had been negotiated by the main membership organizations in 2011 (including the NCAE) as a means for making sure that it was not an absolute bright line, but rather that it allowed for times when it would be reasonable for a teacher to be 4 5

2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360 (§ 9.6(b) adding N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325.4(a)(1)). N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325(e)(3).

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given a rating of “developing” – a standard below proficient . It was well understood that there would be times when a developing rating was appropriate, such as when teaching a new subject area or grade level or the introduction of new curricula such as the Common Core. Further, early career teachers would also be expected to be developing as they grow in their profession. This new bright line approach is exacerbated by the failure of the law to provide any means to dispute an evaluation. Without the ability to challenge the rating in a timely manner, it will be much more difficult for a teacher or school administrator to dispute the rating at the time of a dismissal. While school districts may not choose to immediately seek dismissal every time a rating below proficient is given, it will have an extraordinary chilling effect of keeping educators from speaking up on any issue that may not be desired by supervisors – knowing that the provision could be triggered at any time. This further could stifle creativity and innovation when educators are fearful of holding on to their jobs. The evaluation instruments were designed, according to the Department of Public Instruction, “to assess performance in relation to the standards and to serve as a development model for individual growth and development for the practitioner.”6 This primary intent will be undermined in an environment where any rating below proficient is a cause for dismissal. Further, school districts can effectively use professional development plans to help teachers grow and improve in specific areas. 2. The law eliminates the neutral fact finder in dismissal/demotion hearings. Since the career status law was passed in 1971, there has been a role for an outside body to hear evidence in dismissal and demotion cases.7 The Excellent Schools Act in 1997 replaced the role of a Professional Review Committee with an experienced, trained neutral fact finder in the dismissal/demotion process. This ensured objectivity in the process of sifting through evidence and relieved local boards from lengthy trials.8 In 2011, modifications were made to the process to improve the use of neutral fact finders with the agreement of the main education membership organizations, including the NCAE.9 This law now eliminates that process. Under this law, all dismissal and demotion hearings will be heard by the local board of education. Two cases have made their way to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in recent months on the arbitrariness of decisions of local boards in making decisions on contracts, as well as the proper process the boards must follow to ensure fairness.10 The NCAE filed amicus curiae briefs in the cases, which are available here and here. These cases highlight the value of

http://www.ncpublicschools.org/effectiveness-model/ncees/instruments/ 1971 N.C. Sess. Laws 1396, 1399-1401. 8 The Excellent Schools Act, ch. 221, 1997 N.C. Sess. Laws 427. See also Tom Stern & Ann McColl, The Road to the Excellent Schools Act, Educ. L., Dec. 1997, at 1, available here. 9 An Act to Modify the Law Relating to Career Status for Public School Teachers, ch. 348, 2011 N.C. Sess. Laws 1464. 10 Joyner v. Perquimans County Bd. of Educ., No. 13-446 (N.C. Ct. App. argued Sept. 10, 2013); Tobe-Williams v. New Hanover County Bd. of Educ., No. 13-679 (N.C. Ct. App. appeal docketed June 11, 2013). 6 7

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a neutral fact finder and clear hearing procedures so that there is integrity in the decision-making process. 3. Salary can be reduced at the end of a contract without triggering any employment rights to dispute the reduction. Demotion has always been defined as a reduction in salary.11 The legislation in the budget bill creates a new specific exemption to this for “(iv) any reduction of pay as compared to a prior term of contract.”12 This makes clear that the $500 compounded raise during the term of the 4-year contracts offered in 2014 can be eliminated without triggering any employment rights. But this provision has much broader implications. In a merit pay system that is envisioned by some of the leadership of the General Assembly, this provision could allow salaries set in a specific contract to be reduced at the time of a renewal without any recourse for the teacher or school administrator. 4. Employees lose the right to appeal to court when they disagree with the local board’s resolution of administrative decisions regarding employment conditions and status. Since 2001, employees have had an explicit right to appeal final administrative decisions to local boards and then to court in regard to “the terms or conditions of employment or employment status.”13 While a right to appeal to court remains if there is a violation of law or policy, this eliminates other issues that are grounded in fairness and equity. This law goes into effect July 1, 2014, and affects all employees.14 5. While school administrators continue to have a right to a hearing with the local board if recommended for non-renewal, the new law does not grant teachers this right. In the career status law, probationary teachers in their final year prior to career status have had the right to request a hearing before the local board if the superintendent has recommended non-renewal.15 School administrators have had the right to a board hearing if the superintendent has recommended non-renewal.16 This right to a hearing remains unchanged for school administrators. Teachers, however, will not be afforded the same right: they may petition for a hearing but it is within the local board’s discretion whether to grant the right.17 Without a right to hearing, it will be extremely difficult for a teacher to present his or her position, to have any assurance that any documentation submitted is reliable and reviewed, or that standards for non-renewal are met. So while the law stipulates that a N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325(a)(4); 1971 N.C. Sess. Laws 1397. 2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360 (§ 9.6(b) adding N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325.1(2)). 13 Act of June 29, 2001, ch. 260, 2001 N.C. Sess. Laws 687 (modifying prior provision that an appeal shall lie “in any action of a local board of education affecting one’s character or right to teacher”). 14 2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360 (§ 9.6(c), (k)). 15 N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 115C-325(c)(1), (m)(4). 16 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-287.1(d). 17 2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360 (§ 9.6(b) adding N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325.3(e)). 11 12

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board cannot decide to non-renew a contract for a reason that is arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, personal or political, or against state or federal law, it will be extremely difficult to know how decisions are carried out. And this is by design. Local boards are not held accountable in this model. 6. If a local board fails to act on renewals in the required time frame, the law allows the local board to dismiss the teacher as an at-will employee. The failure of a local board to act becomes the burden of the teacher in this new law. For failing to take action in regard to renewal of the contract, the board has the option to “dismiss the teacher and provide the teacher with the equivalent of one additional month’s pay.”18 It further states that a “teacher dismissed as provided in this section shall be considered an at-will employee and shall not be entitled to a hearing or appeal of the dismissal. “ Id. This suggests that it allows the board to dismiss without reaching the standard of non-renewals of a decision that is not arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, personal or political. While the NCAE may challenge such actions by a local board, this law creates a greater potential for adverse actions against teachers and the need for litigation to address it. The use of the term “dismiss” also raises concern for unemployment benefits. Collectively, these changes create great uncertainty in employment and fail to provide even minimal fairness. This law completely throws out of balance the interests of efficiency and fairness. Where will this lead us? It is hard to imagine how this will not generate lower morale and a greater exodus from the teaching profession in North Carolina.

III. SELECTION OF 25% OF TEACHERS FOR FOUR-YEAR CONTRACTS Appropriations Act of 2013, 2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360 SECTION 9.6.(g) Beginning September 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, all superintendents shall review the performance and evaluations of all teachers who have been employed by the local board for at least three consecutive years. Based on these reviews, the superintendent shall identify and recommend to the local board twenty-five percent (25%) of those teachers employed by the local board for at least three consecutive years to be awarded four-year contracts beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. The superintendent shall not recommend to the local board any teacher for a four-year contract unless that teacher has shown effectiveness as demonstrated by proficiency on the teacher evaluation instrument. The local board of education shall review the superintendent's recommendation and may approve that recommendation or may select other teachers as part of the twenty-five percent (25%) to offer four-year contracts, but the local board shall not offer any teacher a four-year contract unless that teacher has shown effectiveness as demonstrated by proficiency on the teacher evaluation instrument. Contract offers shall be made and accepted no later than June 30, 2014. A teacher shall cease to be employed pursuant to G.S. 115C-325 and voluntarily relinquishes career status or any claim of career status by acceptance of a four-year contract as provided in this section. SECTION 9.6.(h) Teachers employed by a local board of education on a four-year contract beginning with the 2014-2015 school year shall receive a five hundred dollar ($500.00) annual pay raise for each year of the four-year contract.

18

2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360 (§ 9.6(b) adding N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325.3(f)(2)).

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The description above includes key elements in the four-year contracts that school districts will offer to 25 percent of teachers in 2014. As school districts and educators work through the provisions in the law for selecting 25 percent of teachers for contracts, the education community is finding the provisions to be entirely unworkable and divisive. What makes this law unworkable While local flexibility can be useful, it should occur for the purpose of exercising policy choices. Disparate practices caused by efforts to interpret poorly worded legislation is a different matter. Rather than encouraging innovation in design, this law creates confusion in execution because the fundamental elements of the selection process are unclear and confusing. A. Identification of the potential pool The legislation first requires identifying those teachers eligible for the contract. All key elements in the legislation are so unclear that it will cause interpretations of the requirements to vary across the state. 1. It is impossible to judge proficiency in the same manner across all categories of “teachers.” In order to be in the eligible pool of teachers for the 4-year contract, the teacher must have “shown effectiveness as demonstrated by proficiency on the teacher evaluation instrument.”19 This is poorly written since the definition of “teacher” encompasses educators, including counselors, instructional resource teachers, and media specialists, who are not evaluated on the teacher evaluation instrument but on a different tool. The advisory opinion of the Attorney General, in trying to provide some clarity to this legislation, has indicated that “teacher” is a reference to the definition of teacher as provided in the law.20 This definition also includes educators paid on the teacher salary schedule, such as social workers, counselors, and literacy coaches. Some of these positions do not even have an evaluation instrument with a rubric where proficiency is used as a benchmark. Even for educators who are evaluated on an instrument that uses the rating of proficient, there is no guidance on the most basic of issues. Must all evaluations of a teacher be considered or the most recent or some number in between? Does one rating on a standard that is below proficient cause the teacher not to be in the pool or is it an average of the ratings? Each school district is left to make these choices. Inevitably this means that a teacher with a set of ratings can be in the pool in one district and excluded in another because of the interpretation of this requirement.

19 20

2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360, § 9.6(g). N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-325(a)(6); Definition of Teacher, Advisory Op. Att’y Gen. (Oct. 16, 2013), available here.

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2. The law does not specify the timeframe for the requirement of employment for three consecutive years. To identify the pool of eligible teachers, school districts must identify those who have employed for three consecutive years. Does the law intend for these to be teachers who were employed the last three school years (2009/2010 to 2012/2013)? Or does it include the 2013-14 school year as one of the three consecutive years (2010/11 to 2013/14)? Or could it include other scenarios such as a teacher who was employed for three consecutive years some time in the past but has returned in the last year? School districts will have to make some decision on this in order to create a pool but it is a failure of this legislation not to make this clear enough so that districts can consistently apply a basic parameter of identifying the pool of teachers. B. Selection 3. The legislation builds in arbitrariness by allowing local boards to replace the list established by the superintendent without any rationale or parameters. The superintendent is required to consider evaluations and performance and identify the potential pool based on employment of three consecutive years. Teachers must be proficient to be in the pool. The superintendent recommends a list of 25 percent of the teachers to the local board after having identified the potential pool of teachers and selecting among them. The local board can replace any name on the list or completely substitute its own list for the superintendent’s. In replacing the criteria for selection of the superintendent, the only limitation for local boards is that teachers on their list must be proficient. There is no requirement of the three consecutive years. They do not have to otherwise consider performance. This is not to suggest that local boards will be arbitrary and capricious but there are absolutely no protections set in the law to prevent such actions. Further, the local board is not held accountable to the public or to employees for the choices that they make. They do not have to explain their criteria for selection or the replacement of an individual name with another. To allow such unfettered discretion without transparency is inherently arbitrary and capricious. C. Sufficiency of Funds 4. Funding for the bonus for the four years is not assured by the legislation. The legislation mandates that local boards enter into contracts with the requirement that the teacher “shall receive a five hundred dollar ($500.00) annual pay raise for each year of the four-year contract.”21 This in exchange for voluntarily relinquishing career status. While this language binds the local board and employee, there are no

21 2013 N.C. Sess. Laws 360, § 9.6(h).

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assurances that the General Assembly will appropriate the funds needed for school districts to pay the raise. One legislature cannot bind a future legislature.22 To fund this contract will require appropriations over three biennial state budgets (201315, 2015-17, 2017-19). This puts local school districts in a tough position of having to enter into four-year contracts without an assurance of the funds. And yet contract law is clear: the contract is between the local board and the teacher and it would be a breach of contract for the local board to not provide the raise required each year. The local board may be able to take some legal action against the state but it doesn’t alleviate its responsibility in the contract. This is an impossible situation where a teacher must be assured of the amount of salary being provided in exchange for relinquishing career status while the local board cannot know that the funds will be forthcoming. There is also a problem with sufficiency of funds based upon the estimates used to identify the needed appropriations. The $10 million included in the budget for next year is based on providing $500 to classroom teachers.23 Because “teachers” includes many other educators, this is too low. There are 95,000 classroom teachers and an additional 15,000 instructional support personnel – including counselors and media specialists that are included as “teachers” for the purpose of this contract.24 What is the best a school district can do to meet the 25% contract requirement? Local boards do not have the option of ignoring the law. While school districts cannot correct all the flaws in the legislation, by staying mindful of the objective of giving good teachers a reason to stay, education communities can do the best they can with poorly conceived legislation. Below are suggestions based on conversations with the NCAE Board of Directors, NCAE members and staff, board attorneys, superintendents, local board members, and other members of the education community. These are not legal requirements: they are offered as a means of encouraging conversation at the local level of how to best move forward. The local affiliates and NCAE may provide additional support for some of these ideas. 1. Involve educators in establishing local policy objectives. What purpose could be served by selecting a group of teachers to have this contract? For example, is there a way to create a contract that would help retain early career teachers? Or could it be used to provide additional pay for teacher leaders? What about if the contract were a part of a broader concept of an innovative school where the school improvement team has a greater role and teachers have more autonomy? The key is to involve stakeholders in considering a possible purpose – an objective that is important to this community. 22 Kornegay v. City of Goldsboro, 180 N.C. 441, 105 S.E. 187, 192 (1920). 23 24

Legis. Fiscal Note, S.B. 361 (2d ed.), at 8 (2013), available here. N.C. Public Schools Statistical Profile, Public School Full-Time Personnel State Summary, School Year 2012-13, available here.

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2. Once the local policy objective(s) are clear, align selection criteria to the objectives and consistently apply criteria in identifying teachers. While school districts cannot control the variation between school districts, they can avoid arbitrariness in their own system by this careful alignment and application. 3. Consider performance criteria outside of the evaluation system. Over-reliance on one instrument compounds reliability concerns. Further, by considering other criteria, it is an opportunity in the education community to reflect on what brings value to the profession. Master’s degree, National Board Certification, leadership roles, mentoring responsibilities are just a few examples of the other criteria that could be considered. 4. Instead of using the contract and bonus pay as a means of rewarding past performance, use it to begin to establish alternative pay structures. Teachers who have taken on additional responsibilities through being a teacher leader or master teacher can be recognized. The contract not only provides the opportunity to provide this additional pay but to bundle other employment conditions that will enhance this role. It could include innovative approaches to job responsibilities along with professional development or professional learning communities that support those in this alternative approach. With such an approach, a school district could establish an application process so that only those interested in an alternative approach would apply. 5. Avoid the “top 25%” trap. The law does not require that school districts identify the top 25 percent. It establishes a minimum standard of proficiency but other criteria are left to the school district. It is impossible to establish consistent performance criteria across the wide range of positions included as teachers. Having teachers compete to be in the top encourages a “hunger games”, classroom doors-closed, PLCs out-the-window approach. At a time when we need to build community, the NCAE strongly discourages this approach. 6. Build back into the contract reasonable protections for teachers. The first section of this paper identifies how the General Assembly leadership put legislation in the budget bill that severely restricts employment rights. Contracts (or local board policy) can restore some balance. For example, the following provisions would let teachers know that the local board wants to treat them fairly: (a) provide a means for resolving disputes around evaluations; (b) provide a right to a hearing if the board is contemplating non-renewal; (c) stipulate that the board will honor the contract and pay the $500 compounded raise each year of the contract; (d) stipulate that salary will not be reduced between contracts other than specific, identified bonuses; Teacher and School Administrator Contracts

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(e) ensure that teachers will not be dismissed or demoted solely on the basis of one rating below proficiency; and (f) allow a teacher to return to career status if litigation or actions of the General Assembly restores this to teachers who had already obtained career status. 7. Involve the local board in establishing the policy objectives and criteria. In order to avoid the uncertainty caused by the legislation, the superintendent can work with the board from the beginning to establish one process. Those in the education community, including teachers, also can let the local board know their ideas as well.

IV. ISSUES FOR TEACHERS MAKING CHOICES If presented with the offer of the 4-year contract, should a teacher take it? This is a personal choice. Acceptance of the contract is voluntary: teachers can instead choose to keep their career status until 2018 if they have earned career status before the 2013-14 school year. Before deciding to relinquish career status in order to take the bonus (which may be subject to funding), we encourage teachers to consider the following issues. 1. The new contract method significantly reduces employment rights. By accepting the contract, the teacher is agreeing to accept all the changes in the law described in the first section of this paper. These changes significantly reduce employment rights. 2. A teacher might be bound by the contract and might not be able to return to career status even if it is restored by the General Assembly or the courts. The legislation provides that all teachers lose career status in 2018. However, if the NCAE litigation is successful, teachers will not lose their career status. Furthermore, between now and 2018, the General Assembly could choose to act to restore career status. Once a teacher voluntarily relinquishes career status, the teacher may be bound by that decision. 3. While the legislation provides for a $500 compounded bonus, there is some risk of whether these funds will be received without resorting to suing the local board. There is general agreement that the contract is intended to provide a compounded $500 raise over the four years. Using the same example as the Department of Public Instruction, if a teacher began with a base salary of $40,000, a $500 compounded increase would be added of $500 in year one, $1000 in year two, $1500 in year three, and $2000 in year four. In this example, the salary would be $40,500, $41,000, $41,500 and $42,000.25 It is very important for a teacher to know the position taken by his/her local board on whether the local board agrees to pay this amount over contract, regardless of what funds are appropriated by the General Assembly. This will be 25 N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction, New Teacher Contracts in North Carolina (Oct. 3, 2013), available here.

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spelled out in the contract. NCAE members may contact the NCAE Legal Advocacy Center to review proposed contracts. 4. There is nothing in the law to provide for the $500 to be a permanent pay raise. A teacher should assume that the additional funds in this contract are only for the term of the contract and when the contract is over, there is no obligation for the local board of education or the State to maintain that increase. There is no provision in the law to provide for a permanent increase. In fact, the change in the definition of demotion specifically allows this removal of funds without triggering any due process rights. 5. In 2018, a teacher who had entered a 4-year contract in 2014 can be non-renewed. There will be little recourse for a teacher who is non-renewed under the new law. By contrast, if a teacher retains career status, then in 2018 the teacher is assured of continued employment on a 1-, 2-, or 4-year contract. (NCAE litigation would also provide for the teacher to retain career status permanently.) 6. A teacher also may want to consider how he/she feels about the General Assembly taking away employment rights while not raising salaries for teachers. As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, career status always has been a part of a package deal. North Carolina is now at the bottom of the heap on teacher salaries. It is a personal decision but an important one of what message you want to send to the General Assembly about how teachers should be treated in this great State. 7. A teacher may want to consider whether having less employment protection will affect her/his approach to being an educator. It has always been important as a matter of public policy that teachers feel empowered to speak out for their students and to not be subjected to politics in decisions around their employment. Teachers may feel differently about job security but should at least ask themselves if they will feel as free to advocate for public education and to be innovative in meeting the needs of their students.

V. HOW CAN WE ACT TOGETHER? This paper outlines many problems with the change to this contract law and the 4-year contracts for 25% of teachers. These are ideas that have emerged through the many conversations about this law. 1. Take back the conversation: our problem isn’t getting rid of bad teachers – it is giving good teachers a reason to stay. This entire law suggests that the problem has been getting rid of ineffective teachers. In fact, highly respected lawyers representing boards and teachers have publicly stated

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otherwise.26 Instead, what we know is that we are very likely facing a teaching shortage. The actions of the General Assembly to eliminate the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, master’s degree pay for new master’s graduates and refusing to raise pay are only a few of the actions that are drying up the pipeline to the teaching profession. In this context, the conversation needs to be about what we can do to give good teachers a reason to stay. 2. Speak in a collective voice. Teachers can rally together to express their opinion of the contracts. School boards can pass resolutions. Community forums can provide the opportunity to demonstrate unity on this issue. Even those who thought contracts would be OK as a form of employment can join in saying that this contract law is wrong and that the 25% provisions are unworkable. 3. Hold legislators accountable for voting for this legislation. Who voted for these provisions? Anyone who voted in favor of the budget. All Democrats voted against the budget. Some Republicans voted against it as well. Contact your legislator to thank him or her if they voted against it. If they voted for it, let them know your concerns. Because these provisions were never heard in the House – at all – many were not aware of the impact of this legislation. Follow these links for the voting records: Senate and House. 4. Hold the General Assembly and the Governor accountable in the upcoming legislative sessions for not putting substantive policy in budget bills. Policy issues should be heard in policy committees and voted on as separate pieces of substantive legislation. By throwing policy that didn’t make it through this process into the budget bill, it prevents the public from the opportunity to provide input and fails to provide the transparency expected from our legislative body. Even members of the legislative body are prevented from debate and amendment of the provisions. One option would be to write to the Governor to request that he veto the budget if it includes far-reaching policy provisions. 5. Seek repeal of the law- not just the 25% contracts but also this contract method. All of section 9.6 of the budget bill should be repealed. There should be a more thoughtful process at the General Assembly for considering significant shifts in employment. The best use of the $10 million appropriated for the contracts could also be a part of the public discussion. When the General Assembly has eliminated teaching 26 E.g., http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/24/4412608/dispelling-2-republican-myths.html# and

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/03/30/2789643/in-nc-teacher-tenure-doesnt-mean.html.

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fellows, pay for mentor teachers, funding for professional development, and no raises for teachers, there are certainly plenty of options to consider. 6. Seek a salary raise for all teachers to at least a living wage and then to what is needed to reflect the professionalism of teaching. The raise for the 25% with the contracts is not the way to approach the need to raise salaries. 7. Explore employment systems and salary schedules that create career paths for teachers. As a part of giving good teachers a reason to stay, the education community can have discussions of how to create meaningful career paths and the pay and support needed to treat teaching as a true profession. Local affiliates and the NCAE welcome the opportunity to work with the education community, legislators, state officials, and the public. Let’s take this opportunity to build our community and the support for public education.

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