As a lifelong educator, Jen has seen drastic changes in our education system over the past three decades and unfortunately, the majority of ineffective policies and mandates come from our state government without any or limited teacher input.
It is widely believed in education communities around the country that some of our leaders would like to move to a privatized school system. Make no mistake, this is not about “school choice”. It is about a minority of people who want to dismantle public education because it doesn’t reflect their single view of history, literature, science or math. North Carolina was once a leader in education but over the past 5 years, we have taken a downward spiral racing for the bottom across the country.
Since 2011, teacher pay has continued to decrease with only a slight bump right before the 2016 election. Giving teachers raises right before elections makes teachers pawns in a system that does not have the common good at heart. We are at the bottom of the country in per pupil spending as well. The most damaging strike to the teaching profession has been the General Assembly’s narrative that teachers are not worthy of trust, respect or professionalism. For instance, if you are a teacher and work towards a Master’s degree, North Carolina won’t reward your hard work with a pay increase. If you teach in a high poverty school, North Carolina will label students and teachers as “low performing” or “failing” and expect you to utilize a scripted reading and math program instead of trusting teachers’ knowledge and skills. With the current legislative leadership, teacher assistants are a rarity and so is teacher job satisfaction. Paperwork, testing and bureaucracy have increased while professionalism, academic choice and trust have waned. Schools of Education have had decreased enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate programs across the state by more than 30%. This narrative means that we are experiencing a teacher shortage and will soon be at a crisis level.
Jen wants to see teacher pay in North Carolina exceed the national average. She wants teachers to be held in the highest regard and treated as professionals. Jen wants to mandate a pay increase for anyone who advances his/her degree in their license area and reduce the amount of paperwork, testing and bureaucracy that takes away from valuable instructional time. As an expert in effective instruction, Jen would like to see teachers rewarded for encouraging more rigorous and engaging classroom instruction such as engineering, student centered projects, problem-based learning and active dialogue. She wants the General Assembly to align the resources we allocate, and our education mandates with our North Carolina values. If we want a more competent, career ready workforce, we must make changes from Pre-K through higher education. Jen wants to be part of the solution and is ready to roll up her sleeves and advocate on behalf of teachers, families and students. If we want world-class schools tomorrow, we need to invest today!