Old school issues attacked

Mark Schenck - Contributing columnist

Recently an innovative, uncomplicated and cost effective program was introduced by state Sen. Tom McInnis. A shortage of teachers and their constant turn-over in certain areas of North Carolina inspired Sen. McInnis to find a solution to this obstacle blocking our state’s educational path.

Sen. McInnis’s program utilizes the existing assets of certified teacher’s assistants who have completed their required two year degree. The senator’s program then offers participants student loans to pay for night, weekend or on-line classes enabling teacher’s assistants to complete the two additional years required for their teaching degree while maintaining their current employment.

At the conclusion of the program participants would be certified to teach students in both private and the public school systems. In addition, the student loans would be forgiven if the program participant agrees to teach in a low-performing school for four years, or a higher performing school for eight years..

The program itself reflects many of the same qualities as Sen. McInnis in that it’s strait forward, without clutter and unnecessary regulations. Sen. McInnis campaigned on a vow to “cut unnecessary red tape and regulations,” and this program reflects his intent.

At the core of this program is the senator’s concern for the hard working citizens of North Carolina and how to assist them in climbing the ladder of success while at the same time improving the quality of education for North Carolina’s children.

In addition, most local teacher’s assistants already have roots and families in the state, which should reduce the turn-over rate and add a sense of stability to the class room. Without the constant turn-over of new teachers we just might be able to return to the days when a teacher not only knew the student but also other members of the students family, where and how they live, and may have even taught other members of that family. This kind of student/teacher relationship tends to promote trust, compliance and cultivates an atmosphere of family involvement.

Sen. McInnis also stated that “do to being a freshman senator, he didn’t have enough horsepower to get his program passed, however a pilot program was approved which included three counties: Scotland, Richmond and Anson however Moore and Franklin were added recently. Each county will contribute 10 teachers assistants per year to the pilot program to test and fine tune systems and procedures.

This program promises to be one of the most innovative and productive restructuring of North Carolina’s education personnel in recent years. Not only does the program offer positive results for teacher’s assistants, the students and the communities but also has a very modest price tag which is practically unheard of in today’s government programs.

Creating good teachers is fruitless if you cannot keep them. For the last three years, Gov. McCroy’s changes to North Carolina’s financial structure has GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growing faster than any other state in the nation. This year’s budget continues to make available additional revenue for North Carolina’s school system and teacher’s pay increases.

In retrospect, Gov. Mike Easley’s last budget, while in office, started the downward spiral of N.C. teacher’s pay which continued during all four years of the Perdue administration. At it’s lowest point North Carolina’s average annual Teacher’s wages had dropped from $33.300 to $30.800 from 2008 to 2013. Over a period of five years that was a drop of $3.500 or 10 percent, and yet not a word of protest from A.G. Roy Cooper.

Under the McCrory administration, new rankings of average teacher pay across all 50 states show that North Carolina teacher pay is increasing faster than any other state in the country. This basically reversed the trend under Democrat Governor’s Easley and Beverly Perdue, who actually froze N.C. teacher’s pay.

Today,education funding is up, tax rates are down, and North Carolina continues to lead the South as a model for economic reform. And despite the rhetoric from “Yesterday’s Democrats” North Carolina teacher’s wages are on the rise thanks to Gov. McCrory’s fiscal leadership.

Lawmakers stated,“Average teacher salaries will increase by approximately. 4.7 percent just this year.” Counting local supplements, the average teacher salary in North Carolina will rise to more than $50,000 this year and top $54,000 over the next three years. According to a salary schedule every teacher in the state would get a raise under the bill. And with nearly $4.4 billion in state tax cuts for working families, North Carolinian’s will be able to keep more of their hard earned money.


Mark Schenck

Contributing columnist

Mark Schenck serves as chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party

Mark Schenck serves as chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party

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