Politics and theatre productions share two very important concerns when dealing with the public - timing and staging. The Carteret County Board of Education failed to consider both of these key elements with this week’s announced $15,000 pay raise for County Superintendent Rob Jackson. This decision and the means by which it was done now create a predicament for Dr. Jackson as he delivers a variety of challenging decisions to an already critical audience.

The state’s education system at both the state and local level has been the arena for politically charged issues. Tuesday’s cavalier and arguably precipitous decision by the school board only heightens an already volatile environment for school administrators and staff.

Discomfort with state’s public schools has been accelerating over the past year with impassioned debates over gender issues and the inclusion of the controversial Critical Race Theory in a hastily designed social studies curriculum approved by the State Board of Education.

These controversies only fed additional public dissatisfaction and growing distrust of the state’s public schools and educational services expressed by parents frustrated by the disruption of in-class participation due to the Covid-19 pandemic quarantines. Because students attended school from their homes in most cases parents were given an opportunity to watch their children’s academic activities and progress, and many are dissatisfied with both the process and the content of the curriculum.

Most recently Carteret County parents have been showing up at school board meetings to argue aggressively against the board’s decision mandating masks for all students and teachers inside the schools. Masks are not required outside of school buildings.

Recognizing the heightened and vitriolic public criticism of that decision and ongoing curriculum issues it was surprising that the school board was so tone deaf that it moved forward with a salary decision destined to create a firestorm of criticism.

Compounding the bad timing of this decision, the board also failed on creating a good sales message which is resulting in bad optics for the board and school administration.

Unlike the controversial mask mandate decision, which was fully vetted in a variety of public meetings by the board, Tuesday evening’s decision was included in its consent agenda, which meant that be it would be voted on without board comment or discussion.

A letter written by school board attorney Neil Whitford, included in the Tuesday agenda packet, was the only justification offered. That letter noted that the board, concerned that Dr. Jackson’s current salary was “relatively low,” made the decision during an annual evaluation on Aug. 3. According to Mr. Whitford’s letter, Dr. Jackson’s salary is not comparative to nearby school superintendents, $191,830 for Craven County’s superintendent and $181,348 for Onslow county’s superintendent.

In many regards this decision, both in the way it was announced and in timing, are unfair to Dr. Jackson. At the very least the board should have made a greater effort to justify the decision beyond just comparatives with surrounding counties. They could have, and should have, identified some of the benchmarks that he has reached and in the process done a better job on selling his accomplishments to the public. Instead they treated it in a perfunctory fashion.

School staff and teachers are working in challenging circumstances due to pandemic concerns requiring masks and additional cleaning responsibilities, all of which are compounded because of staff shortages. Already loaded down with extra pandemic related duties, school personnel are being asked to take on additional jobs such as bus driving and food service operations on top of their normal activities.

The school board’s perceived lack of concern for the teachers and staff, as noted in a large number of critical postings on social media, creates a stark contrast for the $15,000 pay raise so quickly decided in the school board meeting. This only enhances the growing distrust of the public school system by taxpayers and particularly the parents of students.

It is too late to undo the critical reviews of Tuesday night’s announcement but the board should and must work to reduce the negative publicity it is causing themselves and most specifically Dr. Jackson. Otherwise there will be no curtain call but rather the lowering of the curtain on both the board and the administration.

(21) comments

David Collins

You elected what you got and by you I mean all over this nation . Continue what you always do and you will get what you always have gotten . That never changes !

To elect retired school administrators, who call themselves educators , is seldom a good thing . They just pick up where they left off . Sadly , education in our country is made up of progressive left wingers that are duty bound to change the world in their sometimes warped image . Reality is twisted into what is referred to as “ Wokeness “ . The students are never taught the basic building blocks of life to allow them to enter the real world and succeed . Guilt shaming is the calling of the day .

The madness continues .

mpjeep

Better be careful when addressing the school board…

To quell free speech, the Biden Administration uses its powers to silence American citizens, again.

Biden uses the Department of Justice to prevent parents from exercising constitutional rights and privileges by trying to oppress and intimidate parents who attend and speak at school board meetings.

He is doing this in conjunction with teachers’ unions and the national school board association with whom he was in bed during the 2020 elections. The school board now wants concerned parents labeled as “domestic terrorists.” Are you kidding me? Parents have every right to confront board members at meetings as long as there is no violence or criminal acts.

What’s next, “any” political protest and Biden would summon the FBI to investigate domestic terrorism? Can you imagine?

David Collins

Could not imagine this happening before Bungles Biden but now it is real . Scary thing is his administration appears to think this is OK . What a fine mess we have gotten ourselves into and they complained about our former president .

dc

Who knows but doubt our school board is comparable to ones like that one in Va and those similar which obviously are many. Public education controlled by the Left loonies has gone way beyond their authority. There is only one solution for parents who disagree with the path of public education. Suppose it's possible that any local education authority could decline federal funding and possibly not have to accept the garbage handed down from on high. However, that may be wishful thinking based on what we've seen in recent years especially under the past and this D admin. Meantime, locally CC admin folks are seemingly trying to keep up with much greater populated counties/systems with the across the board pay structure they're pursuing in recent times. Onslow county has 36 schools and 24,000 plus students while Craven has 25 schools and over 12K students. Carteret has what 17 schools and a little over 8K students? Believe with some variables principals pay statewide is commensurate with number of teachers they supervise. Using that standard things are seemingly out of whack. Obviously, it may be sensible to pay folks according to their performance. Many varying factors are in play especially in education compensation. For instance, if you were a 4th grade teacher in Onslow with 28 or more students with a high number of free or reduced lunch students and your pay is similar to a CC teacher with similar education and experience with 18 students is that fair? Of course not, but that's a good example of the different systems locally. Most Carteret educators in most positions are probably fortunate in comparison to other local systems. The Leandro suit pushed more funding to poor systems but little change has been realized. Things are getting tougher for all aspects of public education from PK through the university system. It's tough enough without all the Leftism garbage dictated from above in public education but it is more and more bent on an uncharted course headed for untold peril.

David Collins

When things in education just get better and better like now , it comes out officially that the norm to graduate from a 4 year college has officially changed to 6 years and in some cases pushing towards 8 years . The main reason is the incoming freshman classes are not prepared for college . They have been dumbed down and can not focus on their job . Too busy pulling down statues , I guess . Good job public schools !

dc

Actually, believe Onslow probably has 37 schools and other number not exact but close enough for big picture comparisons.

drewski

Leftist loonies in charge of education.

Another meeting of the flat earth society brought to you courtesy of maga media.

Hyperbole and hysteria " priceless"

dc

Who is in charge of the education that's pushing the loonie BS?

dc

Those "abysmal numbers" are brought to you by more than the virus, your imaginary flat earth society and maga. Since your Leftist BS hasn't worked and isn't working maybe a change is in order. Seems maga policies were working a little better than the looney Left.

dc

China has won the AI race the Pentagon's ex-Software Chief says. We were too busy worrying about Leftist BS. Who knows if it turns out to all be relative maybe it will turn on them but don't bet on it. They and their allies here and all over the world will see to it.

drewski

When you hear hoof beats think horses not zebras. Perhaps China is winning the a/I race. Perhaps the reason is most Asian parents put a higher focus on education and work ethic then most American parents. One cannot deny S/ Asian children have dominated the Scripps spelling bee for the last 30 years. Is that another nefarious lefty plot as well? In ww2 Japan " awoke a sleeping giant" that giant pretty much naps all the time, or is playing on a cell phone while it's kids fall futher behind in basic skills and education.

dc

Are Leftists plotting for power and total control of the masses, equity among the races, or what? How much diversity is there in China and Japan or even Finland? Can't have exceptionalism in this country can we? Just wouldn't be fair would it? Keep all children behind so no child gets left behind and brainwash them all to believe this country is terrible and always has been.

dc

A good start to "Restoring America" might be found with that title at The Washington Examiner.

dc

But wait "Pentagon not conceding AI and cyber dominance to China" by Jamie McIntyre. Maybe if our tech folks cooperated as much with the Pentagon as they do with China and the tech companies and Pentagon stayed out of politics with a need to destroy one man we'd be in better shape.

JusticeForAll

What is more scary than artificial intelligence is the lack of intelligence from so many on this planet.

drewski

"with a need to destroy one man" your obsession with trump and blaming the left for Every ill under the sun seem to preclude understanding what others are saying. What I said was American parents are the reason american children do not excel like others do. Education and work ethic are passed down like eye and hair color. If education is important toparents it is important to the children. in many cases here in america the parents are preoccupied with other things leave the education & guidance to the schools,then wonder why their kids are unmotivated lumps.

David Collins

Quite true . Prosperity does tend to bring on complacency over time . Time for a real shooting war ? That is usually an attitude changer .

dc

If that book LtGov Robinson referenced is indicative of what's important in public ed and the left's controlling agenda scholarship is lost.

drewski

The lt gov's recent remarks about "filth "have likely put the final nail in his political coffin. Book banners are just a half step away from book burners. While some folks undoubtedly agree with his archaic mindset,, the vast majority see him for what he is.

dc

"The problem with school boards" by Peter Shurkiss. The last sentence is the bottom line. The job of educators and all involved in education is to educate not indoctrinate.

dc

"There's still time to turn Virginia completely red" by Ed Timperlake. Lot going on with this subject especially how their law was changed as evidenced in this article. Similarly, BO and his crew published "dear colleague" letters chastising the states for suspensions and/or other consequences which likely resulted in or at least didn't help prevent the Parkland tragedy.

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