Here’s an exclusive sneak preview of the upcoming NC merit pay marketing campaign

Draft graphics from Eckel and Vaughan’s marketing campaign

If you missed yesterday’s Facebook and Twitter news, here’s your sneak preview of a draft testimonial video of 2020 NC Teacher of the Year Maureen Stover singing the praises of the North Carolina Pathways to Excellence teacher licensure and compensation overhaul:

Retrieved via public records request, the video is part of an upcoming Eckel and Vaughan ad campaign intended to garner support for the switch to merit pay.

Eckel and Vaughan and SREB provided this video to Human Capital Roundtable members in October 2021, asking for feedback and cautioning “Please don’t share this version with others.” 

For context, Eckel and Vaughan is the Raleigh-based marketing firm who infamously advised DPI staff to “always speak about the [Pathways to Excellence] plan in a positive manner” and to avoid discussing its “complexity or the burden it may put on districts to manage.”

The first half of the video is about Stover’s struggles with getting credit for graduate degrees and years taught in Florida when she began teaching in North Carolina.  

Without providing any supporting data, Stover claims that this is a widespread problem, saying “Many teachers who transfer from another state are not given credit for the years that they have taught outside of North Carolina.” 

Without evidence it’s hard to know how many teachers experience that problem.  For me, getting credit for out-of-state teaching was just a matter of filling out and submitting DPI’s verification of experience form. Comments on my Facebook post of this video indicate plenty of other NC teachers who came from out of state had no difficulty with this issue.

It’s also unclear why this very specific problem would require us to completely scrap our whole experience-based pay scale and move to merit pay for all North Carolina teachers instead of simply fixing issues with reciprocity.  

The rest of Stover’s testimonial focuses on the need to provide teachers with pathways to career advancement besides going into administration.  She says it would be “incredible” to give teachers the “opportunity to lead not only in their classrooms, but also among their peers by providing mentorship to other teachers that are also working in their schools.” 

Of course, NC teachers already mentor colleagues–we just aren’t provided with time or compensation for doing so.  Here again there’s a relatively easy policy fix.  State legislators just need to commit additional resources to public schools to solve the problem.  Of course it would require more legislators who value public schools over tax cuts.

Stover also says that “The consequences of not having a clear advancement and development process for our teachers is that we will begin to lose teachers from our classrooms.”  

There’s no “begin to lose teachers” about it.  We’ve been losing teachers for years, and it has very little to do with their frustration over options for career advancement.  It’s because they’ve had enough of the low pay, lack of respect, and unsustainable workload that are primarily the result of bad policy by our General Assembly.  This merit pay proposal isn’t the answer to any of that.

When Pathways to Excellence goes to the State Board of Education for consideration, likely this fall, Stover’s video will be used as part of a flashy Eckel and Vaughan marketing campaign to drum up public support for the deeply unpopular merit pay plan.  

More recent documents indicate Stover’s video is now being finalized and that videos by Pitt County Asst Superintendent Steve Lassiter and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt will be a part of the marketing campaign as well.

You can view Dr. Lassiter’s draft video, in which he asserts that “We need to move away from a test-based licensure model to an effectiveness model,” below:

Of course the merit pay proposal Dr. Lassiter supports uses standardized test data to determine whether teachers are “effective.”

Both Stover and Lassiter will also sit on the Board of Directors of the UpliftEd Coalition, a group being assembled by Eckel and Vaughan and the secretive Human Capital Roundtable to serve as the public face of the campaign to reform how North Carolina teachers are licensed and paid.

In addition to Stover, Truitt, and Lassiter’s video testimonials, an email by State Board of Education member Jill Camnitz reveals a plan to have the current NC Regional Teachers of the Year also create videos in support of the proposed policy.

Both Stover and current NC Teacher of the Year Leah Carper will speak at the invitation-only September 7 Best NC Innovation Lab, which is shaping up to be a Pathways to Excellence love fest.

One thought on “Here’s an exclusive sneak preview of the upcoming NC merit pay marketing campaign

  1. They are proving the opposite point with that first video. Give teachers Master Degree pay. Reciprocate years of teaching from other states (which we already do). Don’t have experienced teachers have to go through the BT program. Set up a proper mentoring and master teacher program AND PAY US FOR IT. Pay teachers who run clubs, special activities, and academic societies. Pay teachers for being in leadership
    positions like SIT team or Intervention, or PLT leaders. This isn’t complicated. Teachers that just show up and teach and want to go home can do that, but those of use that want more money can continue to provide mentorship and leadership within our schools, without having to go into administration to earn more pay or advancement. They spent all this money and time and all they had to do was ask me and my colleagues.

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