Legislators, the State Board of Education, and teachers are missing a big elephant in our classrooms.
To be clear: I am in favor of paying people more if they do their jobs well. That said, there are several badly designed proposals now before the N.C. Legislature aimed at changing how public school K-12 teachers and administrators are evaluated and compensated. The proposed new law would have educators’ pay raised only if the students’ learning improved year-after-year on statewide tests.
This is profoundly unfair to those who teach in older school buildings. Learning is impacted by many things besides the teachers, the most powerful of which is the quality of air the students breathe. If the classroom air is not fresh and contains too much pollution, learning drops one or two letter grades every year. According to the EPA, half of all classrooms in America have poor indoor air quality.
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If you are a principal in a poorly maintained old building, there is no way your students can improve at the rate the students in a recently built building down the street will.
These soon-to-be-voted-on state rules would be like the people in charge of the Atlantic Coast Conference football schedule requiring NC State or UNC players to wear 10 pound ankle weights when playing Duke, Notre Dame or Wake Forest.
In fact, it is worse than that, because the football players may lose a game. The kids lose their future.
Francis Koster, Ed.D., is a retired pediatric health care executive living in Kannapolis. His 501©(3) lends meters to students and staff to inspect their schools for pollution.
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