Homeward Bound? Not Likely.

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As I’m sitting here, I wonder if I’m really even capable of blogging about this without it turning into some chaotic rant on the state of public education.  Probably not, but I feel like I need to say something about what’s been going on in public education in my home state.

See, when you’re an expat, even a well-adjusted one like I consider myself, you always miss home.  You get excited about going home.  You think about your favorite things to eat, the people you love, and all the stuff you’re going to see and do when you get back to the world you know and love. 

Over the past couple of weeks, through a draconian near-dismemberment of public education, the state of North Carolina has made pretty sure I won’t be going home when our time here in Korea is up.  And it’s not just because of the money, although not being paid for the Masters degree that I earned is a pretty serious affront.

As I’m sitting here, I wonder if I’m really even capable of blogging about this without it turning into some chaotic rant on the state of public education.  Probably not, but I feel like I need to say something about what’s been going on in public education in my home state.

See, when you’re an expat, even a well-adjusted one like I consider myself, you always miss home.  You get excited about going home.  You think about your favorite things to eat, the people you love, and all the stuff you’re going to see and do when you get back to the world you know and love. 

Over the past couple of weeks, through a draconian near-dismemberment of public education, the state of North Carolina has made pretty sure I won’t be going home when our time here in Korea is up.  And it’s not just because of the money, although not being paid for the Masters degree that I earned is a pretty serious affront.

It’s because people in my home state vote for legislators who claim we have “wasted money” on teacher salaries but continue to fund salary increases for their own staff members.  

It’s because I now hail from a state where it is appropriate in polite company to argue that all teachers do is sit behind their desks and collect a paycheck.  While I will admit there are lazy teachers (just like there are lazy doctors, lawyers, store clerks, and nurses), most of the people in my profession work exceptionally hard to serve their community’s children.   And they do this for very little pay.  Most of these hardworking teachers would wholeheartedly agree that lazy teachers (and lazy doctors, lawyers, store clerks, and nurses) should be fired.  But it’s not fair to rail against and devalue my entire profession because of a few lackluster educators.  

It’s because NC now thinks it’s OK to remove class size limits.  Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time with children knows that your ability to work constructively with them is definitely related to the number of them with whom you must work.  Suggesting otherwise is preposterous.  

It’s because, in my home state, I can now be summarily fired once my salary becomes too expensive and replaced with a cheaper, less experienced teacher.  And when this happens, I can kiss goodbye any hope of a fair severance package or retirement.  With NC’s previous career status system (the thing I frequently hear mistakenly called “tenure”), I also could have been fired at any time but would have retained the right to a hearing to defend myself.  

Or maybe it’s because, despite having graduated summa cum laude from an accredited NC university, earning a perfect score on my Praxis II content test, or finishing my Masters degree with a 4.0, I am from a state whose governor is cavalier enough to allege that I don’t have enough content knowledge to teach high school English.  

In my opinion, the NC General Assembly has made it abundantly clear that they no longer want teachers like me in their system–professionals who are caring, qualified, and competent.  They want men and women who are impeccably trained, who hold at least a Bachelors degree, but are willing to work for less than the salary of a McDonald’s manager.  

So, while I love NC and have never wanted to call anywhere else home, public education in the Old North State is in dire straits.  I feel like my home state is actively discouraging a successful public education system.

I guess fellow North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe was right: sometimes you can’t go home again.  

 

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Education, North Carolina, OMG, Teaching



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