Yesterday I wrote about a flyer that came home in the homework and take-home folders of hundreds of kids at Holly Ridge Elementary. That flyer is posted below. I also posted an image of the ‘Walk In’ protest event being promoted by a teacher during the workday on Monday using an official email. The story took on a life of its own and within hours it was clear the ‘Walk In’ being promoted in that flyer was being promoted through official channels in multiple locations throughout the state.
Yes, I am calling this a protest. When one sends out a flyer like the one below, advocating for one side of an issue, that could be called ‘raising awareness’…in political correctness speak. Events where you are speaking out against something, calling attention to something or are asking for people to join you in doing so are usually called protests. Speak out? Be heard? That’s protesting… and THAT’S OK.
The most disturbing being Lacy Elementary where volunteers were originally asked for to come in to staff room so teachers could attend the ‘Walk In’ during school hours and on school grounds. They used SignUp Genius to solicit parent volunteers. It would seem that the President has now taken up most of the empty slots. A later email about the Lacy ‘Walk In’ rescinded the need for volunteers because staff were going to step up but the event would still be going on. This ‘Walk In’ wouldn’t be missed by anyone because they were going to broadcast it over the schools television system.
An update that didn’t make it into yesterday’s article comes from Mayor of Holly Springs, Dick Sears. His opponent released a statement yesterday that I published along with the other updates of the day. To keep it balanced, here is the statement from Mayor Sears:
I was recently asked to attend a “Walk In” for our wonderful public schools. I was told that this would be an opportunity to listen to the concerns of teachers and that other political candidates would be attending. With that understanding, I immediately accepted the invitation as the concerns of teachers are extremely important to me. Last night, I received word that children were bringing home political fliers in their backpacks along with their homework. I have also learned that this event is more divisive and political than was explained to me. Upon learning those crucial facts, I formally decline the invitation due to the tactics used as well as concerns with the agenda.
I am firmly pro-teacher. Both my father and my grandfather were proud public school teachers. I have an excellent working relationship with every Holly Springs Principal and I meet with the Principal of the high school for lunch every few weeks just to make sure there are no concerns or issues where I might be able to help our schools. I am thankful to my many teacher friends who not only are wonderful people, but also keep me apprised of their opinions and needs. I visit classrooms regularly when invited and I have said many times that it is among my favorite activities while serving as Mayor.
The schools and our teachers are one of my highest priorities for Holly Springs. I do not feel that our schools are “there yet.” We need better staffing. We need increased pay. We need better availability of resources. I will continue to work with the Wake County Board of Education and other entities to meet those goals.
I trust that our schools and the individual teachers will handle this matter appropriately. As for my part, I again decline the invitation, as I would have if all the pertinent information had been available. And I stand on the side of educators, ready to assist in any way I can.
Thank you very much for allowing me to clarify this matter.
I have received multiple complaints this Walk In was not linked to the NCAE but was a ‘grassroots’ effort to make people more aware of the state of education in North Carolina. I assure all of them, this is the NCAE’s event. WRAL even did a story on it, titled NCAE plans “Walk In” To Generate Public Discussion.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Aiming to create more dialogue about the plight of the state’s teachers and the challenges of public education, the North Carolina Association of Educators on Thursday announced plans to host a “walk-in” on Nov. 4 at schools across the state.
Teachers continue to be frustrated with the lack of broad pay raises and the loss of both tenure and master’s pay, said Rodney Ellis, president of the NCAE.
“It’s about getting parents, educators, administrators, elected officials and everyone together in a school building having conversations about the challenges and successes are in our public schools,” Ellis said.
When the article said “at schools across the state” I don’t know that anyone took it seriously that these protests would actually take place at school, much less during school hours. Apparently, this was spot on and that is exactly what was planned in many places.
The Missing Links
The flyer and these events all traced back to the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) through the Organize 2020 website provided on the flyer. Originally, the NCAE site had a page dedicated to this ‘Walk In’, complete with a Toolkit encouraging flyers like the one above be employed. That page and the tookit at the NCAE site disappeared right after Senators Burger and Hunt issued their joint statement asking for an inquiry into the ‘Walk In’. If you want to read what they took down, I have a copy. A copy of the kit can be found here.
— Stacey ‘ST’ Matthews (@sistertoldjah) October 30, 2013
— LL1885 – A.P. Dillon (@LadyLiberty1885) October 30, 2013
Just to be clear: The NCAE did tweet about the ‘Walk In’ being on their website earlier this month.
The Organize 2020 toolkit is intact and Organize 2020 links back to the “Teacher Walk Out” site. If NCAE didn’t launch this thing, they surely are the river carrying the boat. Make no mistake, Organize 2020 has a partisan message as evidenced by the petition they promote on their site. By the way, a WHOIS shows that petition site is registered anonymously and Organize2020 is also registered anonymously. At the bottom of the printable petition in .pdf format, it states where you can return it:
Send completed petitions to: Larry Nilles, c/o Wake NCAE, 3900 Merton Drive, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27609
Gee, Wake NCAE. That’s the same Larry Nilles who came out in and stated to the News and Observer that the flyers are no big deal. He states this event wasn’t about politics, it was about our schools:
Nilles said that the fliers paid for by NCAE are not political and that nothing should be read into the reference to Organize 2020’s website.
“It’s not about politics,” Nilles said. “It’s about talking about our schools.”
Not political at all. Right. Maybe not for the teachers who want their issues heard, but coming from the NCAE’s Organize 2020, there is clearly a political edge to it. Nilles also cops to paying for the flyers, so he and the NCAE aren’t totally throwing the teachers and this event under the bus. I predict, however, that the removal of the material from the NCAE site is the first step in an attempt to distance themselves. The NCAE narrative in the next week might become something along these lines:
— LL1885 – A.P. Dillon (@LadyLiberty1885) October 30, 2013
The News and Observer has a follow up article:
As noted in today’s article, the Holly Ridge flier is one of the things that’s drawing conservative groups to charge that Monday’s statewide teacher walk-in events are political events using children as pawns.
Lady Liberty 1885, a conservative blogger, first wrote about the Holly Ridge flier on Tuesday.
Lady Liberty focused on how the flier includes the website for Organize 2020, a group that’s helping ot organize the walk-ins. The website is highly critical of state Republican leaders for their education-related decisions.
“This is pure political organizing using our children,” Lady Liberty writes. “It’s the NCAE using our kids to drive their own agenda. This isn’t about kids or education, this is about unionizing. This is a political agenda being toted home literally on the backs of our kids. It’s appalling.”
Given what I saw with my own eyes, what I read at the NCAE’s Organize2020 website and the landslide of other events state-wide, I stand by every word of that. It is appalling. I hope the News and Observer stays abreast of the NCAE attempting to cover it’s tracks. The News and Observer also clarifies with McCoy on the flyers and she states they do not violate the guidelines. I strongly beg to differ with her – it would appear that perhaps Principal approval mentioned in the guidelines was not given for these flyers, at least at Holly Ridge. Read the whole N&O article.
Just one more reminder that Organize 2020 is a part of NCAE and it has been stated on the Organize 2020 site and on their Twitter account they are a member led group within the NCAE:
Origins of the Walk Out/ Walk In
I’ve also been informed by readers that the Facebook page event wasn’t linked to the NCAE either, yet it is also promoted on the Organize 2020 events page. It started as a ‘Walk Out’ organized by teachers — but it appear that some of these individuals are part of the “member led” group within the NCAE.
The Facebook event was posted by Dov Rosenberg. Mr. Rosenberg’s Facebook page is unsurprisingly one big promotion of the Walk In, since he states in an October 16th entry he is a part of Organize 2020. Excerpt, emphasis added:
Therefore, instead of “walking out” of our schools, we at Organize 2020 propose that NC’s public school educators and local communities hold a November 4 “Walk-In.” Our goal is to organize every concerned North Carolinian in support of our students and public schools. Help us begin that work on the morning of November 4, when we will stand together in solemn silence, wearing red, at a location where parents can easily see us as they drop their children off at school.
Full version of this letter in a screen grab here.
I am certain Mr. Rosenberg has improving education at heart and I mean him no disrespect, but here, Mr. Rosenberg is actually advocating an event at a school where the intent is for parents can see this. Was it also the intent their kids they are dropping off would see it too? Now the parent has to explain to their child what went on… when the parent might not even be sure themselves. How is this any different from sending home the flyer that got this noticed in the first place?
Please, don’t tell me this is “about the kids” when you use them in this manner. Would it be alright if I decided to wear Purple, invite a hundred friends to do the same and hold a moment of silence on a school lawn while moms and dads drop off their kids to raise awareness for say, school vouchers? No, it wouldn’t.
Paper cars with leaflets, hit mailboxes, do a mailing, Tweet it, blog it, Facebook it, stand out on a corner with a sign… whatever. Leave. The. Kids. Out. Of. This.
Right Place, Right Time, Right Audience
Teachers can and should air their grievances just like any employee anywhere else has a right to do. Being state employees puts limitations on how and where that grievance airing can be done. That is part of being a public employee. Those limitations are there for a reason; your jobs are funded by the taxpayers. It is illegal for state employees to conduct political activity on the state’s time or the state’s dime. This series of events has been proven to do be treading on the grounds of doing just that. In general, it should be repugnant to all that any of this activity was involving our kids.
On a personal note, the comments and emails I have received from people claiming to be teachers have been both positive and negative. Some were straight forward and polite, others downright rude. I heard again and again how I don’t get it, yet few of them thought it was wrong to use kids in this manner. Many applauded me for bringing this to light and were unhappy with the tactics being employed. Others chose to make assumptions about me personally instead of discussing the issue at hand of the flyers. That’s fine. They are upset and I get it. I have a pretty thick skin.
I would like to correct anyone out there with the notion that I “hate teachers”. Far from it – many of my friends are teachers and I greatly admire their hard work and dedication. I am very involved with my child’s school and I don’t hate anyone. I do resent my child being used to ferry protest flyers home in an effort to get to me though. This is a charged issue, but I hope that awareness has been raised on both sides and will then keep our kids out of the arena and from becoming unwitting couriers again. Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, this story needed to be told.
Thank you to WWNC’s Pete Kaliner for linking.