by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
A recent statement from John Tate, a bank executive and member of the State Board of Education (SBE) from Charlotte, caught my attention. In a blog post, Charlotte Observer reporter Ann Doss Helms asked Tate about the teacher pay discussion at this week’s SBE meeting. Tate commented,
“We could pass a resolution saying, ‘We’re screwing our teachers,’ ” said Tate, who has never been one to mince words. “But the power of the purse string lies in the General Assembly.”
Last month, the SBE passed a resolution opposing the use of corporal punishment in schools. Similar to the teacher pay issue, the General Assembly has the final say on the issue of corporal punishment, but that did not stop the SBE from passing the resolution.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not asking the SBE to pass a resolution every time they disagree with the legislature. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Yet, if Tate feels passionately about the issue, then why not try to pass a resolution or hold a press conference or do something other than complain to the press? Surely, Tate and his colleagues on the board consider the plight of 95,000 teachers just as, if not more, disconcerting than incidences of corporal punishment.
This brings to mind another issue that few have discussed. The State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction have a fairly lousy relationship with the Republican leadership of the General Assembly. In part, that antagonism was cultivated by former chairman of the SBE Bill Harrison, who made a number of public statements (after Republican takeover of 2010, of course) about his disdain for the legislature’s policies. To her credit, Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson has not been as bombastic, but it is going to take more than June’s warm smile to thaw the relationship between the two.