Any successful business owner will tell you that without a viable plan - preferably a strategic plan - an organization's chances for success are almost non-existent. In the same breath, such people will also say that if the plan does not include a realistic vision it has little or no value. Let's take this argument one step further and make it clear that if an organization has neither a plan nor a vision then it is lacking in leadership. In a nutshell that is the current condition of North Carolina's public school system.
Governor McCrory's latest idea for giving a $10,000 bonus to 1,000 teachers who qualify on the basis of a yet-to-be disclosed merit system, is a clear indication that our state's political leadership has absolutely no idea how to improve the quality of its public schools. And it certainly does not understand what it takes to motivate its teachers. North Carolina has essentially become a proud member of the "idea of the month" club - a clear indication that everyone has an opinion on how to improve our schools but no one has a bona fide plan.
Rather than investing in research based ideas - the kind that allowed North Carolina to gain some traction during Governor Jim Hunt's administration - our legislative leaders are making decisions based on politics and hearsay. They are also operating with a mean spirit that is clearly meant to degrade our teachers and their profession. How else can we justify offering a $10K bonus for a select group of teachers while we fail to provide pay raises to everyone else, eliminate incentive pay for those with graduate degrees, and erase more than 3,800 teacher assistant positions while increasing the number of students in classrooms. Again, our political leaders are making it clear that North Carolina does not value education.
Our state desperately needs a strategic plan for education - one that has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with finding the best and brightest teachers, compensating them fairly, and showing them that they have our full support. In the past we made other states look good when it came to showcasing their public school systems. For a short while we were determined not to let this happen anymore. Today, we are once again looking at the bottom. It's time to get serious about education.