Thursday, February 19, 2015

Donating dollars for teachers: the good, bad and ugly

It’s interesting, encouraging and a shame that it takes donations to prop up teacher salaries in North Carolina. It’s all those things and more that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has spearheaded the effort for donations instead of leading the charge to vastly improve the education system and the pay scale thereof  through the General Assembly where he presides over the Senate.

Last year, he proposed and pushed through the General Assembly the establishment of the North Carolina Education Endowment Fund (NCEEF). The law allows individuals and corporations to make donations to the fund, and, in return, receive a tax deduction. Okay, let’s give money to a fund to give money to teachers and in return let’s take money from the state tax revenue. As a follow-up, this week, he moved to make another part of last year’s legislation reality by introducing the “I Support Teachers” license plate which though its purchase would funnel more money to the NCEEF.

All this may sound good; and, it may be. However, there’s a catch that is cause to pause from making donations and buying the license plate. The legislation that formed the NCEEF gives the authority to the legislators to pass out the money “for teach compensation that is related directly to improving student academic outcomes in the public education of the state.” Can you imagine the legislature deciding who gets that money? Show me the strings attached. Lt. Gov. Forest says, in a video, that “North Carolina’s highest performing teachers should be among the highest paid in the nation.” That sounds like an after-the-fact reward for giving out high grades just for financial gain.

As Lieutenant Governor, Forest is a voting member of the State Board of Education and the North Carolina Community College Board. In those positions, as Lieutenant Governor and while presiding over the Senate, he is in position to work for changes in education, change that would better finance the system, and change that would hire better teachers going in and with better starting salaries that substantially increase as the years of service lengthen. His ideas, on the surface, may sound good, but the results could be bad and eventually get ugly.
-------------------- word of the day
effulgent (adjective) [ih-fuhl-juh nt]: shining forth brilliantly; radiant

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