As thousands of North Carolina public school teachers put in for personal leave in order to attend the May 16 Advocacy Day event in Raleigh, some school districts have resorted to scare tactics in an attempt to keep teachers in the classroom. Teachers in various counties report receiving emails from district leadership reminding them about policies governing employee political activities, implying that travelling to Raleigh on May 16 would violate those policies.
Every district has policies governing political activity by school employees, and they’re important. Such guidelines ensure that teachers will not use their position as a platform to convince students of their political views. Beaufort County’s Policy 7720, for example, states that employee political activity must not
1. take place during school time or at any time that the employee is performing his or her job duties;
2. involve school monies or materials; or
3. make use of an official school position to encourage or to coerce students or other employees of the system to support in any way a political party, candidate or issue.
As important as these policies are in ensuring that teachers don’t stray outside the parameters of their job description, it should be obvious that have absolutely nothing to do with what a teacher does on a personal day. It’s called a personal day for a reason.
On the contrary, the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards actually encourage teachers to be active in their advocacy and work to improve teaching conditions and change policies that negatively impact our profession. Take a look at Standard 1 for yourself:
Teachers lead the teaching profession.
Teachers strive to improve the teaching profession. They contribute to the establishment of positive working conditions in their school, district, and across the state. They actively participate in and advocate for decision-making structures in education and government that take advantage of the expertise of teachers. Teachers promote professional growth for all educators and collaborate with their colleagues to improve the profession.
- Strive to improve the profession
- Contribute to the establishment of good working conditions
- Participate in decision-making structures
- Promote professional growth
Teachers advocate for schools and students.
Teachers advocate for positive change in policies and practices affecting student learning. They participate in the implementation of initiatives to improve the education of students.
- Advocate for positive change in policies and practices affecting student learning
- Participate in the implementation of initiatives to improve education
North Carolina teachers who are coming to Raleigh on May 16 will be hard at work on Standard 1, demanding that our state legislators work to reverse the alarming trend of defunding public education, making it harder for our state to attract and retain great teachers, and depriving our state of billions in potential revenue through massive tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
While you’re at the General Assembly advocating on behalf of your students and colleagues, be sure to get some pictures of yourself. They will serve as useful evidence of your distinguished performance on Standards 1c and 1d.