Last week's cover story profiled nine local teachers who were taking part in the May 16 Rally for Respect in Raleigh to pressure the General Assembly to better fund public education.
Elizabeth M. Johnson writes that her child's public-school teacher is a lot like the educators we spoke to: "Neither my husband nor I attended public school. When we looked at a school for our daughter, there were many options, but we decided on public school. We are astounded and grateful for her experience this year. The level of care and dedication to the students at our daughter's school is nothing we have ever seen before. There's a teacher greeting kids as they walk through the front door. We see her with a hairbrush, doing a student's hair as they chat about reading or the school play. There's another teacher stationed in the same corridor every morning, greeting every kid who walks by.
"Our daughter's teacher is a wonder. She has the patience of a saint, managing twenty kids of varying backgrounds and skills every single day. Our child comes home every day rattling off new facts. We wonder aloud where all of this comes from or how she knows owls don't have ears! These three teachers at our child's school are not anomalies. They are like each of the nine teachers in 'School's Out.' They go beyond what is expected, put in countless hours, buy their own supplies, and care for our children in increasingly more complex and emotionally challenging ways than ever before. When are we going to realize that public-school teachers are actively influencing our future? They, and our kids, deserve much better."
Tammy Raynor Petrosillo says she too had a situation with many more students than desks: "One year as an art teacher my last class of the day was forty-two students. I only had twenty-six seats. It was a nightmare and left me in tears most days." Melissa Wilder adds: "My son had a math class his junior year with the teacher out sick on [long-term disability], so they combined classes and there were sixty students in the math class! It didn't go well. That was in Wake County at a 'top' school. So unacceptable!"
Kimberly Edwards writes that, at least where she comes from, the teachers shoulder some of the blame: "In my county, many teachers (the ones who have even bothered to vote since 2010) elected these sitting Republicans because their preachers told them so. I can only hope that they're finally mad as hell. It's been eight long years."
And Chris Jay points out that, on the day of the rally, lawmakers ended the first day of the short session after less than an hour: "The cowards ended the legislative session for the day after just forty minutes. They either are afraid of the teachers marching or don't care about why they are. If we don't get both the House and Senate back in November, the teachers need to go on strike!"
Last week we broke the news that Nancy Errichetti, the head the Montessori School of Raleigh, had been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting Nick Smith, who was charged last year with sexually abusing two students. As the INDY has previously reported, Errichetti twice gave Smith warnings for inappropriate behavior, including going into girls' hotel rooms on school trips, but he remained in the classroom until his arrest in November.
RaleighMom1977 doesn't understand why the school's Board of Trustees hasn't cut Errichetti loose: "Please help me understand how this school has not asked this woman to step down. She is a mandated reporter. State law requires mandated reporters to report suspected abuse/neglect. She slapped his hand and wrote up a bogus corrective action plan; meanwhile, this rapist continued to be around young children. The Board of Trustees must be held accountable for this and fire her immediately."
Montessoriparent offers similar thoughts: "The school should be shut down and a thorough investigation, by external authorities, undertaken. This school is suspiciously evasive and promotes a culture of secrecy. So glad we pulled our kids out when we did."