mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
North Carolina Reforms Hit Teachers' Unions


North Carolina Governor Pat McRory last week signed the $21 billion conservative dream budget into law, and it is already getting enormous pushback, especially from teachers’ unions and their supporters.

One of the reforms in particular seems like a good idea to us: a provision that ends teacher tenure. Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, DC, a pro-voucher education think-tank, offered some blunt but sensible words:

“Tenure is an obsolete notion in almost all of America these days except for educational institutions and sometimes other civil service jobs with the government. I personally think it’s just insane for anybody at age 25 or 26 to be given a lifetime job unrelated to their future performance,” Finn said

“People deserve due process, multi-year contracts if they are good at what they do. If they aren’t, why does the state have an obligation to keep handing them a paycheck?” he said.

We’re not anti-teacher here at Via Meadia—quite the contrary. But teacher tenure, like many other features of the bureaucratized blue model, is a serious impediment to meaningful change in education. It forestalls the practice of evaluating teachers based on performance, a key means of torquing and improving the system overall. And quite frankly, this outdated model is holding the best teachers back from achieving their full potential.

As for the other elements of North Carolina’s plan, they are ambitious, to say the least, pairing a $20 million school voucher program with $482 million in cuts to education over two years. As we did with Louisiana and Kansas, we will withhold judgment on the wisdom of the program as a whole until we see how things pan out.

On the one hand, we’re glad for the ‘laboratories of democracy’ that the 5o states afford us. Large GOP gains in statehouses and governors’ mansions suggest public support for these kinds of bold experiments in many places—just as Democratic control in states like California and Illinois speaks to a desire in those states to stay on the blue highway. As red states experiment and blue states double down, their policies’ eventual success or failure will likely indicate some important trends in national politics in the years ahead. Our eyes are peeled.

But it’s also worth keeping in mind some historical context: North Carolina’s first modern experiment in public education was put together by “New South” progressives like Josephus Daniels. Daniels, who went on to serve as Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy in World War I, was a key figure in breaking black political power in the state in 1900.

Let’s hope that kind of troubling historical concordance does not play out again. Reforms and job creation policies need to be designed with an eye to the needs of poor people. If the next generation of African-American high school grads in North Carolina comes out better prepared to make their way in the 21st-century economy, and tax and business promotions keep the demand for labor high in the Tarheel State, the current wave of GOP reformers will end up with a better historical reputation than Josephus Daniels and the rest of the southern progressives of 100 years ago.

Features Icon
show comments
  • crocodilechuck

    OK, James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities – loose the chains of your stultifying tenure at Bard College…….and lead from the front!!

    ps and you don’t need that defined benefit pension you attack regularly, either.

    • Tom

      When did the taxpayer start paying WRM’s salary involuntarily?

      • cubanbob

        At least the taxpayers get more value for their dollar than wasting it on the ideological drones at the dept. of education.

        • Tom

          My point was that taxpayer’s don’t pay WRM’s salary. Taxpayers do pay for the salary of public school teachers.

          • cubanbob

            Taxpayers pay for teaching services. The salaries are the cost of providing the services. Tenure and unions aren’t needed to provide the services.

          • Tom

            I think I did not make myself sufficiently clear–I was explaining that I thought the comment to which I replied was quite silly and not at all germane to the discussion.

          • cubanbob

            In all this confusion I lost track of which comment you were referring to.

          • Tom


          • cubanbob

            I have no idea who and what he is talking about and I’m not sufficiently interested to look it up so on that note I will say you are probably right.

  • bpuharic

    Hey let’s teach creationism like they do in LA and other non – teacher’s unions states. See how our kids do on science tests…

    • Fred

      And with the usual irrelevant stupidity, here he is ladies and gentlemen…..BPUHARIC!

      • Andrew Allison


    • cubanbob

      Why not? It makes more sense than Lysenkoism or the ‘scientific ‘ Marxism.

      • bpuharic

        Or voodoo! Let’s teach voodoo

        Talk about a non sequitur

        • cubanbob

          Which is exactly what you are advocating.

          • bpuharic

            Evolution is a fact. the fact 60 percent of GOP think it’s not says alot about the brain damage caused by being right wing

          • Jeff Jones

            Source please on the 60%. Otherwise it’s your usual hyperbole. And you know by now that huff post, d-Kos, and firedoglake won’t cut it.

          • bpuharic

            Google it yourself. I’m not doing your homework for you.

          • cubanbob

            Creationism isn’t science but its real world harm is minimal unlike Marxism or the pseudo-science of AGW.

          • bpuharic

            I agree Marxism is one of the most lethal ideas humanity has ever generate…like any other religion

            AGW, however, is science. It’s supported by evidence.

          • cubanbob

            Your half way there. Stripped of the pretense AGW is a much real science as creationism but applying it would be far more harmful than creationism. There are too many flaws in the data, the modeling and the underlying assumptions too poorly understood to take AGW seriously. But even if it were true, no one truly knows to what extent it will good and ill effects and there is no practical and effective applied science-engineering to anything about it nor is the developing world going to further impoverish itself to placate the greens.

          • bpuharic

            Prove it.

            Too many flaws in the data for what? To conclude it’s happening? It IS happening.And this isn’t the forum to debate it

            Take your crank views elsewhere

          • cubanbob

            It’s not for me to prove. It’s for the proponents to prove it. And so far they haven’t. But even for the sake of argument it were true, since their is no know technological way to stop this without impoverishment of the developing world it’s not going to happen. Even in the first world it’s not going to happen. The poor, working and middle-class aren’t going to stand for a substantial decline in their living standards.

          • bpuharic

            Those of us who are scientists, as opposed to folks like you who aren’t, understand you very seldom prove a theory true. But it’s easy to prove it false

            Go ahead. Do it.

            And impoverihsment? What do you think is going to happen to the world economy if AGW is true? The earth’s ecosystem is a finely balanced machine just like your body.It just plain irrational to pretend you can inject such a system with this much energy and nothing’s going to happen.

          • cubanbob

            When you resort to ‘authority’ you already lost the argument. A volcano can inject more carbon in one eruption than all human activity combined yet there is no way to stop them. There are too many complex interactions to account for. The science isn’t there yet. Long before humans had any impact the earth had warming and cooling periods. But again even if true, how do you get all of the contrives whose growth would be immediately impacted to go along with this? It’s not going to happen.

          • bpuharic

            Volcanoes are irrelevant. Action at the margin is. That’s the mechanism. You don’t understand the concept of mechanism in science because you listen tot he greatest authority teh right has..>Rush (PBUH) who says evolution doesn’t happen and neither does AGW.

            Again where’s the evidence?

            And what do you do when coastal areas flood, fish start dying, food growing patterns change, etc

            what do you do then? Again you don’t understand how systems work. You simply can not inject this level of energy into a balanced tuned system


          • cubanbob

            Look your arguments are tired and silly without a scintilla of actual incontrovertible facts. I doesn’t matter what you think it doesn’t matter what I think. Unless every country in the world signs up for it and starts immediate action the remediation isn’t going to happen. And all of the worlds countries aren’t going to do it so its a waste of time. China and India for starters aren’t going to accept permanent poverty and the US isn’t going to beggar itself for the sake of Gaea. That is reality, your position is fantasy.

          • bpuharic

            Without a scintilla of evidence? Gee. 95% of the world’s climate scientists disagree

            Where’s your published evidence?

            I agree with you about China and India. But that’s the difference between us. When you’re right and you have the evidence, I acknowledge it. the fact is it’s going to be very difficult to do anything about AGW without China and India

            But that’s different than saying it’s not happening.

          • cubanbob

            95% of the world’s scientists believed a lot of things in their respective fields that were proven wrong. Astronomers for one.

            Now maybe you are right, maybe 95% of climate scientist agree on global warming but do the 95% believe that human agency is the tipping factor? And even if they do, Do 95% of the mathematicians, physicists and chemists among the underlying fields, which underpin climate science believe that to be true in their respective fields? Do 95% of the computer scientists believe the programs used to model are true and accurate? Indeed given the known climate records from geologic time frames the climate changes tends towards cooling, not warming.

          • bpuharic

            Except, of course, we have the evidence for AGW. Big difference. That’s what the right never understands. The right functions on the ideology of authoritarianism.

            We have the data. And that’s what matter, no matter what tales the right spins

  • Pete

    “I personally think it’s just insane for anybody at age 25 or 26 to be given a lifetime job unrelated to their future performance, …..”

    Amen to that.

    But of course the unionized teachers argue that tenure for them is really for the sake of the children.

    And to think that such stupidity is (or was) taken seriously by the media and passed on to the public as gospel.

  • cubanbob

    No one has to be a teacher. If they can or want to, they aren’t indentured servants. They are free to change careers.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    We can see in Detroit what the destination is for those states doubling down on the Blue Model. There is an economic concept known as “Dislocation”, this is the economic cost of changing the direction of a business plan. The longer that those states doubling down on the Blue Model stay the course, the greater the Dislocation will be when forced by reality to change to what is becoming the successful Red Model. Those of us that can see how obviously the Blue Model is going to crash and burn, can only view with disgust those who are so delusional, corrupt, and evil that they continue to support the Blue Model. If you are living in one of these Democrat controlled Blue Model train wreck states, and you want to have a future for yourself and your family, you need to leave immediately.

    • bpuharic

      The Red model cost us 19 trillion dollars and 8 million jobs. But the 1 percent came out OK which, to the socialist right, is all that’s important.

      And, as WRM showed the other day, many Red model states are in deep financial trouble as well.

      But let’s not let the facts wreck the obsession the right has with destroying the middle class moochers.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service