Senate budget bill ends teacher tenure
by Anna Oakes
In addition to provisions for state appropriations, the Senate version of House Bill 950, approved by the N.C. House of Representatives May 30, incorporates language that ends the tenure system for teachers and school administrators in K-12 public schools in North Carolina and creates a performance-based pay structure.
The language is from the Excellent Public Schools Act, which the Senate passed June 4 and which has currently been referred to the House Committee on Education.
Currently in North Carolina, teachers with highly qualified licenses who teach for at least four years are eligible to receive tenure, or “career status,” which assures that they cannot be dismissed except for proper cause. Critics of the system say tenured teachers are rarely dismissed, even when student performance is poor.
The language in the Senate budget bill ends tenure and mandates a contract system for hiring teachers for periods of one, two, three or four years. The legislation sets forth guidelines for teacher suspensions, dismissals and demotions, as well as dismissals of teachers and school administrators in low-performing schools.
In addition, the Senate budget bill establishes a performance-based pay system for teachers and administrators, another provision of the Excellent Public Schools Act.
Rather than award pay increases to teachers for seniority, some have proposed that student performance should dictate teacher pay. The legislation would establish a performance pay system that would award bonuses or pay raises to school personnel for meeting certain performance criteria, including annual growth in student achievement, assignment of additional academic responsibilities, assignment to a hard-to-staff school or assignment to a hard-to-staff subject area.
According to the bill, school districts must submit plans for performance pay to the State Board of Education by March 1, 2013.
The budget bill approved by the House did not include these provisions.
An amendment to strike the language from the budget bill failed by a vote of 18-30 on Wednesday during the Senate's second reading of the bill.
The N.C. Senate budget bill does not include funding for verified victims of North Carolina's eugenics program. The state's forced sterilization (eugenics) program lasted from 1933 to 1974.
After a task force on compensation for eugenics victims submitted a report and recommendation earlier this year, Gov. Bev Perdue recommended that verified victims receive lump sum payments of $50,000 each.
The House bill included a Eugenics Reserve Fund of $11.1 million for compensation payments to victims and administration of the compensation program.
“You cannot rewrite history,” said Sen. Don East of Pilot Mountain, who said he opposed compensation payments. “You can't buy off what people did 30 or 40 years ago and make it right.”
Once the bill receives final approval from the Senate, a conference committee will work to reconcile the House and Senate budget bills for presentation to Perdue.