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"They're not rational": 80-Year-Old Educator Speaks About Her Arrest in “Moral Monday Protests” Against Extreme Right-Wing Agenda in North Carolina

A senior citizen endures an ordeal to protect equality and quality in the public school system.

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Now, another thing I’m really concerned about: I am appalled at the wholesale criticism of teachers. It’s a demanding job in our society and I would say important. And yes, in large groups you may have a few who are not as effective as others, but there’s either a pending or just passed law to have teachers’ bonuses for AP classes depend on the test performance of the students. Okay, now let’s say I’m an AP teacher and I’m going to get a bonus if my students who take my history class, or chemistry, whatever it is, score well. Well, what is that going to encourage me to do? Not to include marginal students who might have undiscovered interests and talents, and so again making it more exclusive, less inclusive, and short change some children who might wake up to doing very well.

Jessica Ferrer: You’re 80 years old, correct?

Barbara Parramore: Yes.

Jessica Ferrer: And so, you’ve seen a lot of changes –

Barbara Parramore: Listen, you know, if I live 10 more years, it’ll be nearly a century. I have lived through – I could start with 1950, the last 60 years, 60+ years, and I’ve lived through it.

Jessica Ferrer: And so you’ve seen those changes, the Brown vs Board of Education, you know, getting –

Barbara Parramore: Yes. And the movement for special education. The point I’m making is that change that is substantive and meaninngful you’re taking the long term, it takes a while to change things. These little quick fixes, it seems to me, are very short-sighted.

Jessica Ferrer: Do you view the changes that the legislature is trying to make as quick fixes?

Barbara Parramore: Many of them are, and they are narrowly focused. Like the charter schools, a separate board for that. We don’t need but one head of the school system. See, it’s the North Carolina school system. It’s not individual. In other words, each local district is a part of the state. They’re not independent. In some other states they have independent school districts which means that they raise their own money and have taxes and so the local folks can vote their taxes and so on. But in North Carolina, it’s a statewide system. And the proposal to allow charter schools to be run by for-profit people or organizations is another thing that is – I mean, we should not be having anybody making a profit off of the public school tax dollars. And not all of them are doing that, of course, you know there are some very fine charter schools, and the purpose of the charter school movement I don’t have any quarrel with, but how it’s been implemented, again, is short changing some of the students that ought to be treated better than they are, narrowly focused purpose and – anyway the for-profit idea of it isn’t a bad one – as well as having teachers who are not necessarily qualified to teach.

Jessica Ferrer: So what was your arrest like?

Barbara Parramore: I had had the opportunity of reading what the faculty member the week before had experienced, so that gave me an idea. I was impressed with the professionalism of all of the law enforcement officials, officers. They were courteous. I didn’t feel any hostility or even impatience, because I know, you know, we were adding a lot of work, 55 or however many there were of us. I did, I was surprised at the – that there were two series, two different parts of having us frisked and fingerprinted and photographs made. I don’t understand that.