The General Assembly Has Teachers Looking Over Their Shoulders
The General Assembly passed a law in 2013 that is still preventing teachers from having the workplace protections they deserve. The ability to be fired on a whim is not helping teachers and is more like an excuse to re-negotiate their contracts.
The law, passed by the General Assembly in 2013, stripped teachers' ability to earn "career status" after four years of satisfactory performance. Lawmakers mischaracterized it as tenure, saying it prevented school districts from firing incompetent teachers.
The truth is, if school districts use it as an excuse to keep lousy teachers in the classroom, it's their own fault. The law specifically empowers administrators to fire bad teachers for reasons including poor performance, insubordination and immorality.
Lawmakers instead wanted to force teachers to renegotiate contracts every few years, so the schools could get rid of the incompetent ones. But since schools already can do that, what the new law really means is teachers have no protection against getting fired on administrators' whims. Keeping a teaching job can become an exercise in politics and teachers can spend a career looking over their shoulders in fear that they'll be sacked if they look cross-eyed at a hostile principal.
Surprisingly, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who's running for governor, sent his top appeals lawyer to court Monday to argue in favor of the Republican-backed legislation. Lawyer John Maddrey repeated the legislative nonsense about the "career status" system amounting to "permanent employment."
As the teachers' association lawyer responded, if lawmakers really wanted to improve the quality of teaching in the state's classrooms, they could have raised the performance criteria teachers must meet to keep their jobs.