NC teachers being ‘voluntarily exploited’
In an op-ed in the News and Observer, Gene Nichol highlights the stories of three teachers, who are struggling to make ends meet after years of cuts to public education.
The level of commitment, professionalism and selfless dedication demonstrated daily by heroes like NaShonda Cooke, Angela Scioli, Brendan Fetters and the other teachers they represent and inspire can barely be comprehended. They instruct with generosity, patience and passion. They lift up children who face our society’s most impenetrable barriers. They push back against unrelenting tides – unwilling to surrender, or retreat, in what might be life’s greatest mission. They move beyond the classroom into troubled and threatened communities – looking our boldest problems in the face, rather than turning from them like the rest of us do.
They do all this, too often, without real compensation, support and appreciation – at least appreciation beyond the parents and students who worship them. They work for basic salaries that embarrass both them and North Carolina, in an education system dramatically stacked against the poor children to whom they have dedicated their lives. They are teachers who, as Jesse Jackson used to say, “teach because they can’t help it.”
I think Cooke, Scioli and Fetters knew what they were signing up for. This path has never been strewn with rose petals. I know they didn’t expect, however, to be officially derided for their efforts. “The elephant in the room,” Fetters explains, “is the constant claim that we are failing our students.”
The politicians who accuse them, of course, never go to their schools, never talk to the teachers. They do, though, “take away our teaching assistants, run good teachers off to other states, give us bigger classes, cut our budgets and disparage our schools,” Cooke says.