The public education debate in North Carolina has been widely discussed, but either side has yet to propose any compromises or solutions for the issue. Both sides are fighting for the same outcome: the ability for North Carolina to equip children with strong educations and foundations for their future lives as productive citizens. However, they have different ways and ideas for accomplishing that goal. The legislature feels that in this economic state, public education cuts are a necessity.
These cuts impact teacher pay, teacher assistant positions, and access to instructional material. They also propose a merit pay system for teachers and appropriate money towards awarding low income students with private school vouchers. However, protestors think that the cuts are unfair and show a lack of support for public education from the government.
Compromises will have to be made in order for both sides to come to agreement. I feel like the first compromise should concern the merit pay system. The merit pay concept is a good philosophy, the state should reward teachers who are continuously making the most impact on their students. However, the state legislature wants to measure this impact by standardized testing of students. The impact a teacher has on a student is a subjective, unquantifiable variable. If the legislature could figure out a way to track a teacher’s efficiency objectively without using test scores, the merit pay system would be a win-win for both sides of the debate. In order to do this, the legislature could provide standardized evaluation forms for administrators to fill out after observing the teachers in the classroom. Even better, it could hire an objective, outside third party committee to evaluate teachers through in-class observations and evaluations.
As for the Opportunity Voucher debate, I feel like in order to make protestors happy, the legislature should not use this money to support private schools. The purpose of Opportunity Vouchers is to provide low income students the opportunity to get the individualized academic attention that they may not be able to receive in public schools. However, the state could still accomplish this goal if they transferred the money they were going to give to private schools and instead funneled it into creating special programs at public schools to help these children. This way, they are giving these students the attention they need without supporting private education institutions.
When it comes to reinstating teacher assistants and adding instructional materials, the state will have to decide whether they value these entities enough to spend taxpayer money on it; or, if it will just be a casualty of the hard economic times. Education is an important part of society and people will always debate in order to make sure it is working properly and to the best of its ability. Nevertheless, I feel like the legislature and the protestors could meet in the middle on many topics in order to unite in the support of public education, and help it reach its full potential for the students of North Carolina.