Entitled, "AN ACT to require criminal background checks for teacher licensure and school personnel employment and for board members of nonprofits seeking initial approval to establish a charter schools", Senate Bill 867 appears to legislate the protection of students, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, as with many bills the current GA is busy churning out, hidden in plain sight, is the casual removal of rights. In this case, under Article 36A, non-violent, civil disobedience would become grounds for the removal of a teacher's license and the potential ruin of a career.
Over the past few years, budget cuts have caused any number of negative changes to our public education system. Many teachers have protested against the lack of text books, teaching materials, and even toilet paper; not to mention reductions in teaching assistants, loss of benefits, and lack of pay increases. Our state's education system, once worthy of envy, has fallen to the bottom of the heap in dollars spent per student, while a voucher system siphons off funds for private enterprise, that would otherwise have gone to public education. Even in this bill, only the "board members of nonprofits" will be subjected to the proposed law; instructors for charter schools would remain free from scrutiny. But, the real problem is this...public educators who have participated in protests against these legislated hardships and have been arrested for non-violent crimes of non-compliance, obstruction, trespass, etc., will now, retroactively, be at risk of losing their jobs and careers, for standing up for your kids' right to a decent education. Our General Assembly members have figured out a way to stifle opposition to their attacks on public education, by those who are most familiar with the adverse effects of their decisions.
It's not too late to ask our legislators to protect teachers from this hidden consequence of an otherwise reasonable law. It's not to late to extend the background check to personnel of charter schools, to make sure all students are likewise protected. There is no guarantee they will listen, but if we fail to call these issues to their attention and to give them feedback before they finalize this bill, then we have failed in our own civic responsibility. NC Senators and Representatives are only a phone call or an e-mail away. Whether you agree or disagree, make your voice heard.