Stuart Egan has posted several times on this blog, expressing his concern for students, teachers, and public education in North Carolina. He is a National Board Certified high school teacher.



He writes:



Dr. Ravitch,

As a North Carolinian, it is hard to express the absolute disappointment, anger, and shame that I (and countless others) feel about the shadowy special session that our General Assembly held this past week and the passing of House Bill 2, the single most discriminatory piece of legislation in recent memory.
It is totally understandable that many corporations and companies have called for a boycott in doing business in North Carolina. The list grows by the minute. And it is right for them to do that.

But I beg that NPE does not cancel the 2016 conference in Raleigh for many reasons because NPE is not doing business, it is providing a service to people in need.
As educators, teachers, activists, and advocates, we have a duty to our students and our communities. We go straight to the source of the very obstacles that stand in the way of our students and public schools succeeding. And we have a very large and visible obstacle here – government “regression” and overreach of partisan politics into the lives of the very students and parents we serve.

NPE and public schools are not in a profit-driven business; we are a people-centered service. I do not see the people we are and the people we claim to be even thinking about not coming to Raleigh at this time. North Carolinians and all of the country need to see how people invested in our public school kids can come together to support others and help to overturn oppressive legislation to improve the lives for all of our students.

What happened in North Carolina this week was a regressive minority trying to take control of all the local municipalities. It sounds a lot like a few regressive “rephonies” trying to privatize something that belongs to the people, public education. We need to stand up to them in the very place where the battle is happening. We have been doing that already with the Opt-Out movement in New York, the charter school battle in Ohio, and the PARCC testing on Pennsylvania. We have not been doing that from afar. We have been going straight to those places to show support, offer encouragement, and invest in our fellow people.

North Carolina has 100 counties, each with a county public school system. According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Dept. of Commerce, the public schools are at least the second-largest employers in nearly 90 of them—and the largest employer, period, in 66. That means teachers represent a base for most communities, the public school system. And they are strong in numbers. Now add to that the number of students who attend those schools. Now imagine the number of parents and guardians and family members who support those local public schools. Now imagine the businesses that help support those schools. Now imagine your own state.

They all could use the help of NPE and those who align with them.

I have been at Moral Mondays led by the Rev. William Barber, who is a keynote speaker for the NPE Conference and the president of the NC NAACP. I have seen him stand on the very ground he was defending in Raleigh and look at his opponents straight in the eyes and tell them that their actions were not in the best interests of the people. He is being heard; therefore, we can be heard. He is standing with us.

We need to do the same for our public schools. We have a chance to stand with others. The overwhelming majority of people in this state do not agree with this bill and its implications. It is simply shadowy politics in an election year being exercised to give a fearful minority a false sense of security.

You, Dr. Ravitch, said in an early invitation to NPE 2016 on your blog,



“We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.”


The Moral Monday protests transformed North Carolina politics in 2013, building a multiracial, multi-issue movement centered around social justice such as the South hadn’t seen since the 1960s. “We have come to say to the extremists, who ignore the common good and have chosen the low road, your actions have worked in reverse,” said Reverend William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and the leader of the Moral Monday movement, in his boisterous keynote speech. “You may have thought you were going to discourage us, but instead you have encouraged us. The more you push us back, the more we will fight to go forward. The more you try to oppress us, the more you will inspire us.”

Those very words ring even more true now in the wake of what has happened in North Carolina this past week.

For NPE to cancel its conference this April in Raleigh would be counterproductive to what we as a group stand for. Industries can choose not to do business as a statement and hit a locality through its wallet. But this is about people, and when people are in need we go to them and see what we can do to help.

Come to North Carolina.

We need you more than ever.


Stuart Egan, NBCT
West Forsyth High School