Letter: School as free-enterprise system now is reality

Dec. 14, 2013 @ 04:12 PM

To the editor:

As a past educator for 31 years, experience teaches me that raising “core standards” will eventually fail as all other “raising standards” experiments have failed in North Carolina. Raising “core standards” is at best only 20 percent of needed reform in education and not the place to start. Basically raising core standards is simply putting lipstick on the pig that has been created by politicians.

Politicians in Raleigh are now totally making educational decisions. Corporations now control politicians. Corporations sell programs to N.C. Top-level administrators in education were once “Curriculum Directors,” now they are “Program Directors” with entirely different roles. Teachers were once “Teachers,” now they are “Program Implementers” and “paper pushers and test givers.” The role of educators has been changed dramatically by the invasion of politicians into education. To further complicate matters the General Assembly ended tenure this past year and dramatically changed the role of decision maker in your child’s education. Accountability for education just changed from teacher/parent to politician/program evaluation. Your child’s education will be governed by programmatic instruction purchased by politicians from corporations contributing to their re-election. Why do you think we have so many programs and tests in N.C. (and adding more each year)?

My advice to teachers is to change with this change. The time for fighting this change has ended. It can be beneficial for you if you learn to play the “capitalist/political” game. Math and science teachers should lead the way. Gain “expert” status. Work with the present NCAE to move from collective representation into individual agency status to represent you in negotiating individual contracts with boards of education. Form small companies (LLC, corporations, etc.) to represent your interests (seek legal advice). Negotiate items such as salary, bonuses, class size, discipline, class periods, decision making, planning periods, assistance, etc. A number of disciplines such as speech, physical therapy, psychological services and vocational services are presently contracted through companies and negotiate contracts. Other disciplines should follow suit. This can be a positive change for you if you take positive action now. North Carolina politicians have established new rules for education. Remember, this is the “free enterprise” system now.

My advice for boards of education is also to adapt to accommodate these upcoming changes brought on by state politicians. Your competition is other school systems for the best teachers. Be proactive.

My advice to parents and taxpayers is much the same except you need to budget an increased amount for educational expenses for your child and at an earlier date. K-12 education is about to become expensive as education moves into the “free enterprise/capitalist” realm. Your means of comparison is day care and college. Free public education as we know it is about to end. Seek tax shelters and credits from the General Assembly.

Brent Helton

Lenoir