Pete's Prep: Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Today's teacher strike

If North Carolina Republicans are going to be ripped as anti-education as they boost teacher pay and funding for public education, maybe they should just go ahead and dismantle the entire K-12 public system and build a better one. 

State Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore held a joint news conference yesterday, on the eve of the big teacher strike. The two Republican leaders touted the improvements the state has made since the GOP broke a century-long Democratic stranglehold on the state.

The GOP closed multi-year, multi-billion dollar deficits; paid off a federal debt approaching $3 billion; reformed a prohibition-era tax system which made NC among the best places in the nation to run a business.

And they boosted education funding that had been cut. Teachers had been fired and their pay frozen.

And for all of these efforts, they are called anti-education.

From the Carolina Journal:

The average 6.2 percent teacher pay  raise in the coming year hikes the average salary to $53,600 annually.  That doesn’t include local supplements, which push pay higher.

“That’s more than a lot of people out there in the private sector are getting,” Moore said.

Berger said the $53,600 average  salary is $8,600 more than in 2013-14. It’s a 19 percent raise. More  than half of all teachers — 44,000 — will receive at least $10,000 more  since 2014. Teachers with 25 years or more of experience will be paid  $9,040 more than they received in 2014.

Republicans have revised the pay  schedule so it takes just 15 years to reach the top of the scale,  compared to 32 years in 2011. Annual education spending is on track to  be $2 billion more than in 2010-11, when Democrats still controlled the  legislature.

Republican lawmakers put up a website today to counter the partisan attacks on their record. 

You can it here

It includes this graphic:

Of course, to the Editorial Board at the Charlotte Observer, this is one of many signs that Republicans are "rattled." The writers cheered the protest with a poorly-imitated of George-W-Bush-in-the-rubble-of-the-World-Trade-Center-esque "We don't expect Republicans leaders to cow, but they have reason to be  rattled. They're hardly fooling anyone, and today, everyone is going to  hear about it."

Normally, North Carolina's Republican leaders are a hard bunch to  rattle. They're dismissive of proposals that don't fit their agenda.  They sneer at people who make those proposals, or people who rule against them in court, or pretty much anyone who contradicts them in any sort of way. 

That nastiness has been a part of  the rollup to today's Teachers March on Raleigh, certainly. Union  County Republican Mark Brody called teachers "thugs" for participating  in the walkout. Other Republicans, including House speaker Tim Moore,  went with the well-worn approach of smearing the march as a "union"  effort, even though there is no functioning teacher's union in our  state.

But Republican leaders  also appear a bit, well, nervous about this event. They're flooding  inboxes with news releases about how well they've treated teachers.  They've launched a website,,  that helpfully supplies "The Truth About NC's Rising Teacher Salaries."  Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger even called a news conference  Tuesday ahead of the march so that they could promote yet another  teacher pay hike of 6.2 percent in the 2018 budget. 

To be clear, the Republicans SHOULD push back against this political campaign seeking to return the state to billion-dollar deficits, tax increases, and patronage. It's the reason the GOP won election in the first place.

There SHOULD be a resistance when the NC Democratic Party and the teachers union attempt to lie their way back into power.

There SHOULD be opposition when unwitting teachers are used for partisan aims, and when other educators mislead to further the cause.

I applaud NC PolitiFact for fact-checking a Stokes County teacher's Facebook post that went viral.

A teacher in western North Carolina said he makes $53 a  day, spurring politicians to use his claim to support their position  that teachers across the state are underpaid. The difference between  what the teacher claimed and what the records show is about $26.76. In  other words, his daily pay in April was about 50 percent higher than he  claimed it was.

What teachers make is  an important debate — one that should be won or lost on solid numbers.  There are many ways of illustrating a correct number, but the $53/day is  not the poster child it was made out to be.

We rate this statement False.

And it's why I applaud the NC Association of Educators finally admitting that the organization is a union.

The John Locke Foundation's Mitch Kokai has the info:

Representatives of the N.C. Association of Educators have complained  in the past when observers have referred to the group as a union.

Those complaints will be harder to make given the following snippets from a Monday evening email sent by the “NCAE Organize 2020 Caucus.”

*Page 1 – “We were inspired by the powerful organizing and social  justice focus of the Chicago Teachers’ Union and have been working to  bring similar energy to North Carolina.”

*Page 4 – “This isn’t union-like activity. It’s union activity.”

*Page 7 – “The General Assembly didn’t give us permission to do this.  We certainly don’t need their permission to call ourselves a union.  More importantly we don’t need their permission to act like one.”

*Page 7 – “If May 16 is going to matter, we have to build our union.”

*Page 8 – “Our union is what we make it.”

You can see the entire memo here.

For years, the NCAE has denied that it operates as a union. The leaders must feel like it's now beneficial to admit what most observers have known all along.


And another thing...

Socialists are celebrating statehouse wins in Pennsylvania, after four of the Democrats endorsed by the Democratic-Socialist Party won primary elections yesterday.

A Florida man died from an exploding e-cigarette.

The Carolina Panthers have a new owner.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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