RALEIGH: NC educators encouraged to rally against tenure changes - WNCN: News, Weather

NC educators encouraged to rally against tenure changes

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A group representing North Carolina teachers is urging teachers to fight back against a new state law that the group says hurts their profession.

The North Carolina Association of Educators held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce its Decline to Sign campaign in an effort to encourage teachers to protest changes in teacher tenure.

The NCAE says it plans to fight a state law that limits teacher tenure by using employment contracts instead.

Teachers are being offered a four-year contract with pay raises totaling $5,000 in exchange for giving up tenure rights.

"These contracts are a bad deal for North Carolina's public school children and the women and men who have dedicated their lives to them," said Wake NAE President Larry Nilles. "For their students, their schools, and their coworkers, I urge all of North Carolina's public school teachers to 'Decline to Sign.'"

Millbrook Elementary Magnet School special education teacher Jessica Benton called the law "absurd" and "insulting."

"This notion of 25 percent of us being better or more worthy of an extra $25 in our paychecks for a year is absurd and it's insulting," Benton said. "The bottom line is it goes against the very collaboration we strive to do and have been trained to do."

But supporters say the contracts will promote better performance in the classroom.

Senate President Pre Tempore Phil Berger said the law is meant to give administrators the ability to make sure under-performing teachers improve or find new professions. He said last school year, 17 of more than 95,000 instructors were dismissed for cause, implying it would have been more had others not had tenure.

"Schools across North Carolina rightfully take pride in naming teachers of the year, who are positive role models and leaders in their local communities," Berger said. "Likewise, we should embrace the opportunity to recognize and reward more of our top performing teachers."

The NCAE said there were already checks in place to weed out teachers who shouldn't have been in the classroom.

Gov. Pat McCrory has vowed to push for teacher pay increases, but the NCAE said it can't wait because North Carolina is already losing teachers to other states. The NCAE said a teacher could make $4,000 more in neighboring Virginia.

Teachers are being asked to wear red on Wednesday and take pictures of themselves holding signs that include the hashtag "#decline2sign" along with the name of their school and city. Teachers are also being asked to sign a petition.

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