A Charlotte schoolteacher and a North Carolina senator who represents Lincoln County are currently publicly at odds with one another.
According to North Carolina Public Radio Station WUNC, Sarah Wiles, a science teacher for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, sent an email to every member of the North Carolina General Assembly with the subject line: “I am embarrassed to confess: I am a teacher.”
In the email, the six-year veteran explains her frustrations over low teacher pay and not having received a significant raise in several years.
“I am so tired of being lied to about how important I am and how valuable I am,” Wiles wrote. “I am also sick and tired of politicians making my profession the center of attention and paying it lip-service by visiting a school, kneeling next to a child, shaking my hand and thanking me, telling the nightly news that I deserve a raise, and then proceeding to speak through the budget that I am not worth it. If you aren’t going to do anything, and you know nothing will change, just leave me alone. I would rather be ignored than disrespected.”
Wiles said she believes politicians are only speaking up for public school teachers because it is an election year.
“I am embarrassed for you,” she wrote. “I am embarrassed by you and save for my students, I am embarrassed being a teacher in North Carolina — the doormat of society.”
While several senators have responded, Senator David Curtis has received the most backlash for his email response, after hitting the “reply all” button and sending it to every member of the General Assembly.
In his response, Curtis told Wiles that if she was so ashamed of being a North Carolina teacher, she should leave and find another career. He continued, outlining what she should ask for from her new private sector employer.
“You expect to make a lot more than you made as a teacher because everyone knows how poorly compensated teachers are,” Curtis wrote. “You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher.”
Curtis said her new employer should contribute to a retirement plan that would guarantee $35,000 per year for life after working 30 years in the public school system.
“The teachers union has convinced parents that teachers are grossly undercompensated based on a flawed teachers union survey of teacher pay,” Curtis wrote. “I support the teacher pay raise but am very concerned that the teachers union has successfully presented to the public a deceptive view of total teacher compensation that is simply not consistent with the facts.”
Curtis could not be reached for further comment prior to publication.