McCrory plans to boost teacher pay

Feb. 11, 2014 @ 03:47 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials announced a plan Monday dealing with teacher compensation. 

The plan will increase starting teacher’s salaries by $4,200 over the next two years–$2,200 this year and an additional $2,000 next year. According to a statement from the governor’s office, the plan will raise starting salaries to $35,000, making them among the highest in the Southeast. 

“There’s no greater investment we can make than in preparing our kids for the future, and there’s no question that high-quality teachers lead to better student achievement,” McCrory, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis said in a joint statement. “That’s why we are committed to boosting starting teacher pay to $35,000 over the next two years.”

“Making North Carolina a regional leader and nationally competitive will help us attract the very best talent to our schools and brand our state as a teaching destination, not a layover,” the statement continued.

According to the governor’s office, the raises will be funded from additional and available revenues and will not require a tax increase. They will look into raises for more teachers and state employees as “the revenue outlook becomes clearer and available.”

The four men also announced plans to extend supplemental pay for teachers with master’s degrees to those who have completed coursework in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013 at their event Monday.

The North Carolina Association of Educators responded to the plan in a statement Monday. 

“NCAE is glad the governor and legislative leaders have finally recognized the need to increase the starting salary for all teachers in North Carolina’s public schools,” the statement read. “This pay plan may help North Carolina’s ability to attract and recruit the best and brightest to work in our schools; however, without a comprehensive long-range salary compensation plan, there is very little incentive for any teacher to remain in the profession in our state.”

The statement said that the education group was not provided a copy of the plan in advance, so has not had time to fully read all aspects of the proposed plan.

The NCAE was critical of the plan raising salaries for new teachers, but not doing the same for veteran teachers, whose salaries have been frozen for many years. 

“This plan sends a clear message that only one-fourth of teachers are valued. This pay plan does not offer an adequate pay plan for all teachers but only a few, and is another divisive attack on our profession,” the statement read. “Our teachers deserve better. Our students deserve better. With the implementation of this plan, new teachers will make more than teachers with 10 years of experience.”

“Again, we have not seen the plan. While this pay plan rewards newer teachers, it is disrespectful to veteran teachers, sends a clear message that students don’t deserve teachers who are experienced and committed to the teaching profession and institutionalizes teacher turnover,” the statement continued.

The organization has been critical of legislation passed recently and have challenged opportunity scholarships and teacher tenure in court.

Kim Hargett, president of the Union County Association of Educators, said the plan was well-intentioned, but not well thought through. 

“(We) certainly are encouraged that the governor is wanting to target resources toward our beginning teachers,” she said. She added that she did not think you would find a veteran teacher that would begrudge a new teacher that. 

“However, the issue is...we have too many steps. There are too many steps in our salary schedule,” Hargett said. 

She said they have been advocating collapsing the existing schedule for years. Under the existing salary schedule, a teacher needs 36 years in the classroom to reach their maximum earning potential. 

The governor’s proposal moves the beginning salary schedule to Step 8, a step that usually takes eight years of classroom experience. She said they have been advocating blocking off the lower steps for many years. Beginning at Step 8 collapses the schedule to 29 Steps. 

She added that the other problematic part is that just targeting the new teachers could lead to divisiveness in the school building. She said it is another idea being floated that will cause hard feelings among teachers. 

“That’s just not who we are,” she said. 

With regard to the extension for the supplemental master’s degree pay, Hargett said it is a step in the right direction, however, they feel the law removing the supplemental pay for master’s degrees “simply needs to go away.”

“If we value education for our students, then we need to value education for our educators,” she said.