I appreciated Drew Elliot’s assertion that my August 2015 Washington Post column was the “harbinger” of what is now the primary line of attack against North Carolina Republicans and their lackluster support of public education. (“The problem with overblown education rhetoric,” Sept. 4) But Republicans’ real problem with my rhetoric is that hundreds of thousands of readers statewide are buying into it and refuting Republican claims that they’re doing more than cursory finger-lifting for educators and students.While our legislature has been muting educators, dismantling the hallmarks of their profession, and actively suppressing opportunities for young people to pursue teaching as a career, schools have succeeded in spite of their duress. Why? Because teachers understand the task before them is far more important than the political football public education has become. The schoolhouse is on the right track, Mr. Elliot. The career of an educator is not.And what about teacher pay? If lawmakers simply adjusted the 2008-09 North Carolina teacher salary schedule for inflation over the last six years, teachers in virtually every level of experience would make more than they do under the current pay scale.Our state government shows up in election years with its own exaggerated political rhetoric, but fewer and fewer teachers are buying it. It’s too hard for them to forget how Republicans tried to take teacher tenure away, only to be overruled in court. Or how they’ve singled out teacher retirement healthcare benefits. Or how per-pupil spending is still below standard.Elliot cannot believe that Republicans are waging war against public ed. If they are, he says, they must be “really, really bad at it.” But they’re actually quite effective. A quick look at enrollment in UNC teacher prep programs is the more accurate harbinger.James HoganStatesville, N.C.
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