Last week USA Today reported about the poor quality of systems tracking teacher discipline around the country. The systems are so bad that teachers or educational staff can frequently flee one area and get a job in another. The article ranked states on the quality of their systems for checking teacher backgrounds. North Carolina was one of the worst offenders. It received a failing grade, F.
If you want to know how this issue plays out in districts across North Carolina read an excellent article by Tonya Maxwell of the Asheville Citizen Times and reprinted in USA Today.
The problem is bad enough, Sadly we’re all familiar with the horror stories of teachers with questionable backgrounds — or worse — showing up in different districts. What’s worse is that it didn’t have to be this way.
When Katie Cornetto became a staff attorney with the State Board of Education in 2008 she saw a less than stellar system for checking teacher licensure and backrounding. She pushed for a task force to address licensing and ethics issues.
In 2010 Superintendent June Atkinson received the task force report. The report contained 15 recommendations including hiring more investigators to prosecute teacher misconduct, fingerprinting and allow the state board to share background information with local school districts.
It’s now 2016. And, none of the recommendations have been implemented.
Why? News reports covered the release of the report. The State Board of Education and DPI say the brutal murder of State Board of Education member Kathy Taft and budget concerns pushed the issue to the sidelines.
That was six years ago.
If DPI is truly concerned about ensuring our children are safe and our classrooms have high quality teachers, you have to ask: where’s the evidence?
The inaction speaks — no screams — louder than words.