Editorial: Teachers' school-day protest ill-conceived

Nov. 02, 2013 @ 11:54 PM

Although you can count us as firmly on the side of those who believe teachers have been getting a raw deal from the N.C. General Assembly in recent years, especially this past year, we have to agree with Republican legislators and conservative groups that the N.C. Association of Educators and some teachers appear to be injecting politics into the classroom.

At issue is a statewide day of protest Monday on funding for public education. Originally, some teachers had been calling for a walk-out or just not showing up for work Monday.

But many were justifiably uncomfortable either that such a "blue flu" violated their contracts or that the victims would be the students, not the politicians who are to blame for whatever budgetary ills are the source of teachers' complaints.

So the NCAE, the largest group representing the state's public school teachers, started encouraging "teacher walk-ins"; teachers would wear red on Monday, march to school and hold community meetings.

Those all certainly are better than not showing up for school. And by all means, wear red. Wear any color you want. It's a free country. Walk to school, march to school, skip down the block -- it's all better for the environment and your own health.

But it's the rest of the equation that looks like it crosses the line. For example, the News & Observer reports that the PTA at Lacy Elementary School in Raleigh was seeking volunteers to cover classrooms from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday while teachers meet on campus with parents and community members -- with the event being broadcast on televisions in the classrooms "so that no one will miss it," according to the PTA.

Time during the school day should be used for education of the students, not education/lobbying of parents and community members.

Beyond that, these efforts seem misdirected. It is not the students or their parents who really need convincing, but they are the ones who will show up to see a sea of teachers in red in the classrooms and on classroom TVs and hear them making speeches about what politicians are doing to the schools.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: If you want to change what happens in the legislature, craft an argument, pitch it to the voters, and win an election. Tuesday is Election Day -- but not for anyone in the General Assembly. One can't help but wonder what this event is intended to achieve.

We're with the teachers in spirit, but if we were in the business of issuing grades, this civics project of theirs would get no better than a C.