Beth Milne is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Earlier this year, before the heat of summer and this legislative session, CarolinaCAN released a suite of policy recommendations to help make 2013 “The Year of the Teacher” in North Carolina—recommendations that would elevate the teaching profession and help our state recruit and keep great teachers.

This week, the state senate and house released a budget that has crucial implications for North Carolina teachers and their students. While the budget leaves a lot of work yet to be done, it takes important steps forward, as well.

As part of our Year of the Teacher campaign, we recommended:

  • Giving teachers, regular, meaningful evaluations that give them the feedback they need to improve their practice;
  • Freeing districts from outdated salary schedules so they can provide their great teachers with meaningful financial awards; and
  • Reforming continuing contract laws to award “tenure” based on excellence

In the latest version of the 2013 budget, due to be approved later this week, we’ve achieved many of these goals:

  • All teachers will receive annual evaluations, except those who have already demonstrated consistent excellence in the classroom, who may opt for less frequent evaluations
  • A task force has been charged with studying the extremely complex question of differentiated teacher compensation and recommending a statewide model to help North Carolina recruit and keep highly effective educators
  • NC educators rated “effective” or higher on the state evaluation instrument will be eligible for multi-year contracts and annual pay raises

These new policies create a foundation of sound policy to build on.

But our work is not nearly done. Overall cuts to public education, glaringly low teacher salaries, and an extremely negative message about the value North Carolinians hold for our public schools hardly make 2013 “the year of the teacher.”

In the next few days we’ll be diving deeper into the budget and its implications for North Carolina schools, detailing how the state must leverage each of these new policies, influence implementation and continue working for other advances to make our teaching profession one that top graduates want to join, and where our best want to stay.

Stay tuned!


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