As one of fifteen principals from across the country selected to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Eddie Price was expecting long, eloquent speeches about education from the federal perspective.
Instead, Duncan walked in with a blank sheet of paper and said, “You tell me, and I’ll listen.”
Such was the nature of Price’s recent visit, which was part of an effort to bring education leaders together to discuss education concerns that face each state. Price, the principal at South Johnston High School in Four Oaks, N.C., had the floor to voice concerns about the issues such as teacher pay and morale, as well as the amount of testing required for students.
Prince, who earned a master’s degree in education from NC State in 2004 and a doctorate in education from NC State in 2014, was nominated to participate in the meeting because of his work at South Johnston High School. Since Price took over as the school’s principal in 2010, the graduation rate has improved from 70 percent to 93 percent and the dropout rate has decreased significantly.
“It was a good trip because I learned that [Duncan] is very passionate about education and actually wants to listen to the practitioners,” Price says. “And our governor is very educationally minded. He has groups talking about improving pay and I know he wants to improve pay. I’m just not sure how close we are to resolving that.”
Price appreciated the chance to talk about issues that concern him—student testing and teacher pay. North Carolina employs two types of assessments for students: formative and summative. Summative assessments, according to Price, are like “autopsies” that measure whether the teachers’ impact on the students was where it needs to be. However, he says, summative tests may be having a negative impact on the system.
“The teachers feel right now that the assessments are not aligned with the curriculum, and so morale is low about that,” Price says.
Even more pressing was the topic of teacher pay.
In 2013, North Carolina was ranked 48th out of the 50 state and Washington, D.C., for average starting teacher salaries, at just $30,778 per year. Price hopes steps can be taken to improve the pay for teachers throughout the state.
— Christian Candeloro