By John Peters
November 6, 2013
It started as a call by some teachers to literally walk out of their jobs, to protest General Assembly decisions regarding teacher pay and staffing by not showing up for work.
Largely at the advice of the North Carolina Association of Educators, that plan morphed into the idea of a “walk-in,” a day when educators would ask community members — commissioners, state officials, parents, most anyone who would show up — to walk into the classrooms and schools, to observe the schools and teachers in action.
The association was correct in urging the teachers to change their course — walking out would have been grounds for immediate dismissal in every school system in North Carolina, since state law prohibits teachers from striking. However, the tone in many communities was still, unmistakably, combative even with the idea of the walk-in.
Not so in Surry County.
A representative from the Surry County chapter of the association addressed the county school board Monday night, explaining what the walk-in would be like in the county schools, and asking the board for approval for such an event. Throughout the presentation it was clear the intent of the walk-in in Surry County would be to accent the positive, to show what the local schools are accomplishing, how well the system is working locally.
It was likewise clear from the presentation, and the discussion during the meeting, that the highest level of respect exists between the teacher’s association, the school administration, and the local board of education.
Whether teachers should get raises while taxpayers who have to fund those raises struggle is a legitimate discussion to have, as is the number of teachers to put in the schools given budgetary limits across the state.
Locally, though, that debate exists within the framework of mutual respect, with all involved keeping their focus on what’s important — educating and taking care of the youths who walk into the schools every day. This is an example of why Surry County schools continue to be among the best systems in the state.