I got home from work yesterday after running a couple of errands. It was approaching 6 p.m. My wife, a teacher, was scrunched over her computer at our kitchen island, still working, still all in, too busy to even chat. OK. I changed from my work clothes, did a couple yard chores, tinkered around with my motorcycle. At 6:45 I came back and was just closing her laptop as I walked in, finally ready to relax.
North Carolina has about 1.5 million public school students, and according to a report from the Department of Public Instruction, 52.3 percent are minority students, while only 20.5 percent of teachers are minorities.
For Lin Forney, the end of fourth grade was the end of an era.
The year was 1963, and the world was changing. Nine years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision struck down the “separate-but-equal” precedent that allowed racial segregation in schools, and the Civil Rights movement was spurring change — or at least talk of it — in communities across the South. Now, that change was coming home to Haywood County. The schools were desegregating.
North Carolina’s population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse every day, but according to a report issued by Gov. Roy Cooper’s DRIVE Task Force, its educators don’t nearly reflect that diversity.
The DRIVE report, which stands for “Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education,” was issued this past Jan. 1 after Cooper called for a task force that was eventually convened in May 2020.
The start of this school year has been a topic fraught with debate about student needs, logistical hurdles and funding shortfalls. But, the voices and opinions of teachers seem to have been left out of the conversation when communities and schools need them most.
When teachers were starting their careers in North Carolina some 30 years ago, they did so with the understanding that their health care would be covered and the money they put into their retirement fund would cover the cost of living when the time came.
Leaving Watami Sushi & Noodles on Main Street in Waynesville, I smiled at the hostess, a girl named Hannah. She responded with an expression of recognition and we chatted. Hannah is a senior at Haywood Early College (HEC). I’d met her the previous week when I taught a session on blogging. Though we’d only been together a short time, we remembered each other.
Summer is ending and schools are opening. It’s the time year when I remember the teachers.
These days, teachers are too often scapegoats for the shortcomings of parents, politicians and society at large. Truth be told, what they do each day in the classroom changes lives and changes the world.
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