Supporters of public education in North Carolina are reeling as a result of the sustained assault by the Legislature in this session, but in comes a Gates-funded project to claim that defeats are actually victories and to lobby for merit pay.

The CAN idea is supported by hedge fund managers and Gates to promote charter schools, evaluating teachers by test scores, awarding higher pay to those whose students get higher test scores (merit pay).

CAN is closely aligned with the ALEC-style effort to privatize public education and to dismantle the profession of teaching.

Below is their triumphant letter, saluting the “victories” in the recent legislative session, where public schools and teachers were pummeled by extremist elements who control the Legislature.

Important to bear in mind that over the past century, merit pay has been tried again and again and again. It has never worked.

In recent years, it failed to produce results in New York City. It failed in Chicago. It failed in Nashville, where the bonus offered for higher scores was $15,000.

The Raj Chetty study cited below had nothing to do with merit pay. It established only that some teachers are able to produce higher test scores than others, and that students with higher test scores have slightly higher lifetime earnings. But there was no merit pay involved.

Here is what CAN said on its arrival in North Carolina, where the very future of public education hangs in the balance and where the Legislature is busily eradicating the profession of teaching and funding Teach for America while defunding the North Carolina Teaching Fellows:


A great teacher for every student.

That was our vision when CarolinaCAN launched its “Year of the Teacher” campaign—an effort to elevate the teaching profession through research-backed policy recommendations and, in turn, help our state recruit and keep great teachers. Because we know that’s the most important factor in schools to helping our students succeed—and it’s what all kids deserve.

At the heart of our campaign were three goals:

  • Giving teachers regular, meaningful evaluations that recognize excellence and provide them the feedback they need to improve their practice
  • Freeing districts from outdated salary schedules so they can invest meaningful financial awards in excellent teachers and other staffing priorities
  • Reforming “tenure” laws to award contracts based on excellence
How did we do? The short answer is that CarolinaCAN went three-for-three in our first legislative session: a proud feat for which we thank you—our partners and fellow advocates—and the lawmakers who supported much-needed reforms for the Tar Heel State.

To learn more about our policy wins, I encourage you to visit our website and read our blog series about North Carolina’s 2013 budget.

As always, the long answer is more complicated. These laws create a foundation of sound policy to build on—but we must build on them, to make them meaningful to teachers and enable local leaders to recognize excellence. As these and other policies from the 2013 budget go into effect in our schools, we need to make sure they’re carried out with integrity, in a way that’s best for kids.

Because right now, the landscape of North Carolina public schools remains dire. See for yourself by reading our inaugural State of North Carolina Public Education report.

Our work has just begun. Our dedication to North Carolina’s kids—and to great teachers—runs deep. And we’re busy planning already for the next legislative session, when CarolinaCAN will continue to champion smart solutions to tough problems.

I hope I can count on you to join us.



Julie Kowal
Executive Director