Leader declares challenging time for education

Leader declares challenging time for education
March 24
00:00 2016
Photo by Todd Luck
North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) President Rodney Ellis, a Winston-Salem native who taught eighth grade language arts at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, was among the many educators helping out at Kimberley Park Elementary School on Friday as part of the NCAE’s convention.



People cleaning up in schools might not seem unusual, until you realize the people are educators. Members of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) did just that during the 46th annual convention in Winston-Salem.

About 500 educators attended the convention at downtown Embassy Suites on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19.

On Friday, attendees spent the afternoon doing service projects at local schools. About 100 educators did things like yard work, staining benches, waterproofing the school’s outdoor stage, painting, organizing library books and decorating bulletin boards and classroom doors at Kimberley Park Elementary School. At Hall-Woodward Elementary School nearly 50 educators tutored students.

“As part of our convention we decided this year to get out into the communities and do some work,” said NCAE President Rodney Ellis, a Winston-Salem native who taught eighth grade language arts at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy before taking his current position.

NCAE is the largest education organization in the state. The convention is a chance for its members, which can include any employee of a public school, to plan out NCAE’s educational advocacy activities.

Ellis said it is a challenging time for education in North Carolina. School systems all over the state are having difficulty filling their positions and the teacher shortage is expected to get even more severe in the coming year. Schools of education aren’t producing enough new teachers to meet the demands of public schools, said Ellis.

“That’s a clear sign that something’s not right with public education if you don’t have people interested in the profession,” he said.

He said educators are frustrated that they have relatively low salaries and resources while state funds go to vouchers for private schools.

Ellis said the local situation with Cook Elementary school reopening with new staff after being labeled as low performing has happened to schools all over the state. He said he didn’t feel replacing the staff was the right approach and what schools like that really need is greater parental involvement.

“I think that too often we point to teachers and staff as the reason that schools aren’t performing at the level of expectation, instead of what a lot of the real issues are, and that’s poverty,” he said.

During the convention, educators heard from N.C. Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper, N.C. Public Education Superintendent June Atkinson and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

During the primary, NCAE endorsed Cooper, who Ellis said would be a “ true champion of education” as governor. They also endorsed Atkinson, who Ellis said has been open and responsive to NCAE, meeting with members of the group before each of the N.C. State Board of Education’s monthly meetings.

“We have a seat at the table with June and we’re very appreciative of it,” he said.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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