Archive for the ‘Washington’ Tag

On the Go! Go! Go!   1 comment

North Carolina is a beautiful state with so much to offer.  As a rather conservative person I think that taxpayer money needs to be not only spent well but frugally.  Unfortunately, North Carolina has not valued educators as it should.  Some paring of funding may well have been appropriate.  With less money most school districts in North Carolina have managed, until changes in testing make long term trends an exercise in comparing apples and, oh, say celery, to not show much, if any, deterioration in skills among their students.  With outcomes similar over time it is hard to argue that some aspects of previous spending were not wasteful.  Education has always been a carousel and pendulum ride between different strategies, methods and, yes, fads.  Enormous amounts of money have been spent on such endeavors.  Now, the trend is towards the use of notebooks, laptops, tablets to further instruction.  This is expensive and there is inherent obsolescence that requires commitment to further large expenditures of money down the road.  While it may exist, and everyone will have an opinion, I have not seen much evidence that these expenditures are justified in outcomes in comparison to other uses for that money, the opportunity cost.  (But it is a grant we won!  How could we turn it down?! Um, that is not free money.  It is borrowed from somewhere, mostly the future and to some extent China)   I hope the positive outcomes will be there because that is a money that could be spent in many ways that have proven effective over the years and to pay for quality teachers.  I am not a big fan of tenure, as I have seen some teachers ride along for years with little productivity and even less reaction to this.

So North Carolina passes a budget with raises for teachers that on the early years of the pay scale yield large raises and nothing, for all practical purposes, for teachers with a great deal of experience.  What must be noted is that these are not actually raises at all give even the low levels of inflation for the past 3 or 4 years.  For the veteran teachers it represents falling behind for another year by the rate of inflation for the year.  Further, in North Carolina, the pay scale is subject to legislative approval most every year.  So if you are a new teacher and look at the pay scale and say to yourself, “Self!  Look what I will be making in 5 years!  Woohoo!” then you could be sadly disappointed as the legislature could do exactly what it has been doing, basically freezing your salary by making what you make at year six the same as for year 5.  It is at their discretion each year.  So watch out!

So why am I going on about this?  In my district in North Carolina our local supplement has not been restored to the levels at the beginning of the recession even the county as a 25% budget balance, far above what is considered prudent.  Taxes are among the lowest in North Carolina.  Have the low taxes led to vast migration of businesses and industry to the county?  No.  What does not appear to be understood by county leadership is that businesses don’t just look at the tax rate.  They look at other factors as well, the educational status and support for education, school ratings on Zillow and other sites on the web, community support for recreation, not just remaking a downtown, and at other indicators of the overall health of a community.  With no prospects for improvement and approaching the end of our working life cycles, we realized that there just would not be enough money to do what we wanted to do in retirement.

Well, over the course of about two weeks I submitted resumes through Teachers-Teachers.com, interviewed and accepted a position in Sultan School District in Washington state, approximately 2800 miles from here, and began the process of retirement here.  On August 20th we journey there with our house sold and a very much downsizing condominium purchase in Everett, Washington.  Sultan is a small district, but when we went there in July we were met by extremely friendly people.  I can’t wait to go to work there.  I was hired there even though I was going to be pretty close to the top of their pay scale.  I wonder if that would have happened here in most districts……

Nana will be fully retired and I will work to fund all of her extravagances!  I expect martinis and lingerie at the door when I get home each day.  Yeah, right!  Not necessary at all.  Instead of constant monetary anxiety I will come home to a less stressed spouse, and that is enough right there.  There are downsides.  Expenses of moving but they will be recouped.  Moving further from two grandchildren but a little closer to three.  I know!!  It is supposed to be wet out there!  Raincoats or hats!  And I do already know, no umbrellas or you will be silently ridiculed!  It will be about a 30-35 minute drive to my district.  Some of the time through residential or I can four lane it most of the way but my favorite route so far is through a beautiful river valley with field that spill over with fruits and vegetables.  The cascades rise to the east as I approach from Everett.  Every day (yes, there will be many days where clouds and drizzle will spoil the view!) has the potential for me and us to see and do the things we yearn for when we travel.  What better conditions for work.

Someday we, at this time at least, anticipate returning to North Carolina to retire, perhaps around Brevard unless it is completely overrun by sweated out Floridians seeking something cooler to the north.  Who knows.  I hope, even among my usually favored conservatives currently running the state, that they find the will to do what is right on a consistent basis for education.  The children and the teachers deserve better.  The state deserves better.  Give us a reason to return.

Advertisements