How to destroy a professional organization

Today’s Government Ops committee meeting went over an issue related to teachers that focused more directly on Rodney Ellis, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, NCAE.

In the past, when a teacher was elected President of NCAE, as Rodney Ellis is now, that person went on leave from their local school authority to take up a full time job with NCAE. The NCAE president was paid a salary by NCAE, and received no salary from the school board during that time. But the school board continued to make payments for that teacher to the state retirement system, and were reimbursed for it by NCAE. Are you with me so far?

The NC General Assembly found out about this process and did away with it. The NC General Assembly now claims that either “the teachers’ union” or their “employees” found a way around the ban on this by getting the elected teacher placed on Educational Leave. So the old process continued, the teacher who went to work with NCAE and their retirement benefits were paid for by NCAE as if they were still working in the school system.

The time on Ed Leave was also counted as time in grade, so to speak, for teacher raises.

NC General Assembly has found out that this is still happening and is upset. So upset, they forgot that there are NO UNIONS in North Carolina, and spent the day referring to NCAE as "the teachers’ union."

General Assembly Republicans called in the Forsyth School Superintendent and the Chair of the School Board, and spent over an hour raking them over the coals. How long has this been going on? Who approves the request for Ed Leave? Who approves the contract? Does the person going on Ed Leave return to the county to teach? What happens to the teacher’s classroom while the teacher is on leave? Were you aware this year off was still counted as time towards retirement? What benefit comes to the school children as a result of this arrangement? Do you tell the state that an employee is on Ed Leave? Does NCAE endorse candidates running for school board? Do you do this for other employees who go on leave to work for a private entity?

Rep Avila even exclaimed, “I can’t believe with all the trouble we’re having keeping teachers in the classroom, you’re giving them reason to get out of it!” (A startling admission that, yes, teachers ARE leaving our state.)

And it’s not that any of these questions are over the top, or even inappropriate. It seems a lower level of government began this practice many years back, and when the General Assembly tried to discontinue it, took it up again through another route . But the repeated mentions of Rodney Ellis and references to “the teachers’ union” left little doubt that the real object of this hearing was finding a way to denigrate or destroy NCAE as a professional association for teachers in North Carolina and to discourage any classroom teacher from seeking election to a position with NCAE. Easy way to destroy a professional organization is to have no one run for office. The disempowerment of teachers is the real goal.