In a lengthy news conference yesterday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory made a passionate case for creating an efficient and effective state government that gave citizens “a bigger bang for their dollar.” That’s a noble goal I can fully support. Governments SHOULD be efficient — and any governor who is willing to step up and find ways to provide high quality services by “spending less and taking in more” is a-okay by me.
When detailing his plans for making government more efficient, McCrory argued that improving governmental services while simultaneously saving taxpayer dollars was dependent on empowering state employees. “The most productive state workers,” he said, “have a say in their jobs and their goals.”
Dig through case studies on highly successful organizations and you’ll find out that McCrory is right.
Employees that have a say in their jobs and their goals give willingly of themselves simply because they feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves. As Harvard business researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer demonstrate in The Progress Principle (2011), “the secret to amazing performance is empowering talented people to succeed at meaningful work” (p. 2).
Amabile and Kramer’s argument was recently echoed by Jim Goodnight — CEO of SAS, a highly-successful local software company that has made employee satisfaction and empowerment a top priority — who said, “If you treat employees as if they make a difference, they will make a difference.”
When talking specifically about improving education in North Carolina by reducing teacher turnover and increasing both salaries and opportunities for practitioners, McCrory’s Senior Education Advisor Eric Guckian went even further in yesterday’s press conference, stating that our state’s leadership was genuinely committed to ensuring “that teaching profession is a destination and not a layover and that we have a long-term profession in place for our teachers.”
Great soundbite, right?
Here’s the hitch, though: Over the past year, McCrory and North Carolina’s Republican heavy legislature haven’t done a durn thing to give our state’s classroom teachers “a say in their jobs and their goals” or to ensure “that the teaching profession is destination and not a layover” when crafting the policies that govern the work that happens each day in North Carolina’s classrooms.
Need proof? Then check out this recent summary of a survey of North Carolina public school teachers and administrators conducted by Dr. Scott Imig and Dr. Robert Smith — professors in the University of North Carolina System — where:
- 97 percent of respondents think recent legislative changes have had a negative impact on teacher morale.
- 74 percent of respondents reported being less likely to continue working as a teacher/administrator in North Carolina as a result of those changes; and
- 96 percent of respondents think public education in North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction.
As Imig and Smith explain, “Regardless of one’s political affiliation or profession, these statistics must be seen as deeply troubling.”
I’m guessing that means Pat and Eric and the boys are planning on getting back to the ol’ drawing board, huh?!
You can’t honestly claim to be committed to lofty goals like giving state employees a say in their jobs and making teaching an attractive profession while simultaneously ignoring a survey showing that 96 percent of practitioners — the very people you claim to want to empower and retain — believe that your policies are harmful and that 3 out of 4 of those same practitioners are ready to quit working in our state’s public schools, can you?
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