As a lifelong educator, Jen has seen drastic changes in our education system over the past three decades and unfortunately, the majority, if not all, of the ineffective policies, mandates and budgets come from our General Assembly without any or limited teacher input.
Phil Berger and our current NC General Assembly leadership are dismantling public education and working towards privatization of schools. Berger and his followers call this “School Choice” but it’s not about choice at all. This movement is about a minority group of people, including North Carolina’s Art Pope and Phil Berger, who want to destroy public education. They are doing it systematically and selling it as something else so the public can feel positive about what’s taking place. BE WARNED. They prefer schools that reflect their single view of history, literature, math and science and meet their standard of ideological purity.
So how does he do that? How has Phil Berger, over the past 8 years, moved a state that had a strong public education system to a private and for-profit model?
- Phil Berger repeats the narrative that schools, teachers and parents are “failing”. Berger’s legislation requires schools, predominantly located in low-income areas and in communities of color, to be labeled as failing or low performing. Instead we should be investing in resources that help those schools thrive. This negative label on schools is devastating to the community including the teachers who work there. Jen is in “low performing” or “failing” schools weekly and there is tremendous potential, but unfortunately these schools are restricted by Berger’s policies. Investing in these young children and their teachers would also lead to more economic success down the road.
- Phil Berger does not respect, trust or pay teachers adequately; therefore, less people go into public education. He is constructing a business model for our schools and reducing costs by limiting veteran teachers’ salary, pensions, and healthcare. Berger is making schools for-profit whenever possible and someone is making money off of our children.
- Phil Berger removed teacher autonomy and professionalism from the career. He requires teachers to administer a ridiculous number of standardized assessments that are developmentally inappropriate. He then requires that teachers be evaluated based on their students’ performance without taking into account student factors such as language ability, economic status, or age. Little to no input on the evaluation is from school administrators, who actually work with teachers every day. In addition, Berger restricts teachers’ ability to make decisions for their students based on their professional knowledge. He has removed any power teachers once had in the classroom and on school sites. Public schools have not always been set up this way and teachers were once treated as experts in their profession.
- Phil Berger is now requiring local school districts to pick up more of the costs for schools. Poorer districts will not be able to sustain the state cuts, while districts with more means will have more options. Phil Berger is from a rural district that will not be able to make up the difference in the loss of state funds. He is hurting the people and children he represents.
- Phil Berger undermines Schools of Education and encourages “alternative” means of becoming a teacher. He does not require the study of pedagogy, child development or content strategies, only content knowledge. In fact, Phil Berger has stated publicly that we should be “scrapping” Schools of Education altogether. In addition, by taking about the financial incentive for earning a Master’s Degree, he has discouraged teachers from continuing their own education. What state do we live in where getting better at your craft is not valued when the end result is our children’s education?
- Phil Berger gives people money to leave public schools (vouchers) and attend private institutions. These schools are not held to the same restrictions as public education and they aren’t held to the same standards. They can also choose which students they admit. 66% of private schools are religiously affiliated. There is a need for private institutions, but not at the cost of our common good and public education. (Note: Catholic schools have historically held students to the same standards and had success.)
- Phil Berger gives for-profit charter schools unlimited access to state resources. Charter schools, as a whole, do not do any better at educating children than public schools. They use our TAX DOLLARS and take money away from public schools.
Jen wants teachers to be held in the highest regard and treated as professionals so that our best and brightest students are encouraged to go into education. Jen wants to mandate a pay increase for anyone who advances their 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 student centered projects, problem-based learning, inquiry and active dialogue. Currently, testing mandates and prescriptive programs limit teachers’ ability to engage students in this way. She wants the General Assembly to align state resources and education mandates with 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!