Letters to the Editor, May 7

May. 06, 2014 @ 06:11 PM

Trade, open markets essential for state

When it comes to creating jobs and boosting economic in North Carolina, few policies are as important as opening new overseas markets and leveling the playing field.

According to the Commerce Department, exports support more than one-fifth of all North Carolina manufacturing jobs and contribute nearly $30 billion to the state's economy. More than 87 percent of North Carolina exporters are small businesses, and jobs linked to exports pay 18 percent more on average than other jobs.

BASF Corporation is dedicated to North Carolina's growth and economic development. We employ more than 1,000 people across the state and recently invested $33 million to expand facilities in Research Triangle Park. Pending U.S. trade agreements with Europe and the Pacific Rim would open new export opportunities for North Carolina products, enabling us to continue to create jobs and invest more in the state.

To highlight the value and potential of trade and open markets for the North Carolina economy, BASF and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) hosted an event last month that brought together leaders from across the state. With 95 percent of the world's consumers residing outside of the United States, we recognize the direct connection between increased exports and job creation.

Renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is crucial to ensure successful negotiation of these new trade agreements and put us in the strongest possible bargaining position. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has had this authority and it's time for President Barack Obama to have the same.

Steven Goldberg

Vice president, regulatory law and government affairs, BASF Corporation

John Hood’s magician’s hat

I salute John Hood of the John Locke Foundation for his column “Pay teachers for results, not degrees.” Like a magician showing us an empty black hat, he introduces “the latest empirical research [on] how best to improve teacher quality,” and then directs our attention everywhere else.

Mr. Hood attacks at length graduate-degree pay bonuses, claims a trivial financial incentive for a small number of teachers to give up tenure is a “performance-based pay raise,” and calls money for yet more testing  “critical to educational success.” He never does, in fact, discuss quality teaching.

Education is not all that complicated. Everyone agrees on the most basic tenet: Student learning depends on good teachers.

And the one simple economic truth is that good people will hesitate to become teachers if they do not believe we can earn a reasonable living over the course of a career.

Today, no one in North Carolina believes this to be true. Our state has abandoned a career pay plan and replaced it with empty rhetoric and short-term gimmicks.

The evidence is clear to anyone who cares to look: Current teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate, and fewer college graduates are entering the profession. We are burning through our most precious educational resource -- our teachers.

It doesn’t matter how many rabbits Mr. Hood pulls from his hat. Until we return to a reasonable pay plan for teachers, education in North Carolina will continue its downward plunge.

Steven Unruhe

Durham