Legislators, Teachers Have Split Opinions On New Bill

Legislators sat before a group of frustrated Craven County educators on Thursday.

The frustration? A new bill that phases out teacher tenure and replaces it with shorter contracts.

Under the new law, districts must offer 25% of their best teachers the contract. Those who sign get a $5,000 bonus.

The law doesn't sit well with many teachers, including Craven County's Teacher of the Year Ike Smith.

"I don't think the four-year contracts are a good option," said Smith, an English Teacher. "I know some of the legislators disagreed with this, but I think it is going to have an impact on teachers wanting to work together. We're certainly going to do the best we can, but if you tell folks that we're going to slice 25 percent of you, that's not encouraging them to help one another."

Senator Norm Sanderson said the law is meant to encourage teachers to do better.

Sanderson said, "The intent of the General Assembly was not to have competition among the teachers. It was for the teachers to be competitive with themselves and want to move to the next level. In order to do that, sometimes there needs to be an incentive. It works everywhere else in our economic system."

Craven County is one of several school boards that's come out against the law. They hope to get it changed before it goes into effect next school year.

Representative John Bellhouse of District 10 said, "Our job as legislators is to listen and learn. What teachers have to say, what administrators have to say and go back to Raleigh and put it together the best we can."

If teachers sign the contract, they'll lose tenure. The contract says they'll lose it regardless in 2018.

The General Assembly will have a short special session at noon on May 14th. That's when many teachers hope the law can be changed.