N&O Editor Calls Opportunity Culture Solution a “Symphony”

by | June 9, 2014

Calling school models in an Opportunity Culture a simple, harmonious solution, Editorial Page Editor of The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer Ned Barnett highlighted the work of Public Impact and Co-Directors Bryan and Emily Ayscue Hassel in his column yesterday.

In Let NC’s top teachers teach—and earn—more*, Barnett said:

“With all the angst and alarm over the General Assembly’s approach to K-12 education, hearing Bryan Hassel talk about how to create more effective schools is like listening to a symphony. He has a solution. It’s simple and harmonious and won’t cost more than we should be spending anyway.

Embracing the Opportunity Culture concept—which extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within regular budgets—Barnett noted:

“The Hassels’ approach would not be cheap at first for North Carolina. They say the state needs to raise its average teacher pay 10 percent or more to reverse the backsliding that has sent the average pay sliding to 48th in the nation. But after that, schools could reallocate funds between extra support staff and great teachers teaching more students without increasing school district budgets.

Compare the teacher response to the Charlotte experiment with the statewide situation in North Carolina. While teacher applications piled up for the Charlotte pilot schools, low pay and low morale statewide are fueling an exodus and a looming teacher shortage.”

As North Carolina grapples with this, the governor has proposed sustainable career pathways that districts and their teachers can design. The Senate proposed large average base pay increases. We at Public Impact hope that now the state House, Senate, and governor can work together to bring both of these to reality, and fund education at a level that lets North Carolina ensure a competitive workforce and robust economy.

As Barnett concluded:

“The General Assembly and the governor are responding by offering a boost in pay. Hassel says that helps, but it’s only paying good and bad teachers more to do the same job. What should happen is more pay for good teachers and a winnowing of low performers.

In addition, Bryan Hassel says, the state should be adding teacher assistants, not cutting them by half as proposed in the state Senate’s budget. The teaching profession is virtually alone, he notes, in asking teachers to work in isolation doing many tasks involving a range of skills. Why have great teachers sidelined to tend to sick or unruly students or to monitor cafeterias and bus lines?

North Carolina is in an educational crisis and if it continues the state will lose many excellent teachers. It’s time to support top teachers by making a substantial change in how they are employed and what they can earn.”

*This article is no longer available online.

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