GOP unveil teacher pay plan

By Scott Mooneyham | Feb 11, 2014

RALEIGH — After weeks of talk, the announcement that Republican leaders had come up with a plan to raise teacher pay in North Carolina was not unexpected.

The basics, that its primary focus would be on new teachers and starting salaries, had been making the rounds for a while

The only real question was whether the relevant parties -- legislative leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory -- would be working from the same script or pushing competing ideas. With everyone heading to McCrory's old stomping grounds of Jamestown, outside of High Point, for the announcement, the daggers were sheaved.

For the time being, a governor and legislative leaders of the same political party seem to have recognized that what is good politically for one is usually good for all.

The plan that all are touting would raise the pay of public school teachers who are in their first five years to $35,000. Those teachers, minus local salary supplements, are now paid a base salary of $30,800.

Because the pay increase would also boost the salaries of teachers in their sixth and seventh years in the classroom, roughly 24,000 of the state's 95,000 teachers would benefit, according to the documents obtained by the Associated Press.

The cost of the plan is estimated at $100 million in the first year and $200 million in year in the second.

For beginning school teachers, the two raises would amount to a 13-percent pay hike.

The GOP leaders' push to raise teacher pay follows three years in which their actions, including the approval of private school vouchers, public school budget cuts and the phasing out of teacher tenure, have caused critics to accuse them of being anti-public schools and anti-public school teacher.

Walk into just about any public school building in the state, and you will find that sentiment does not stop with partisan critics. A lot of public school employees are angry.

Assuming the state has the money to put the pay plan in place, there is no reason that it should not fly through the legislature.

But will it cool that anger?

For that to happen, teachers and the broader public will have to see the pay raises as more than a cynical attempt in an election year to prod voting margins in the Republicans' favor.

To see it as more will require that McCrory and GOP leaders frame the pay raises as part of a larger vision that seeks to carefully improve public schools and not undermine them.

To his credit, Senate leader Phil Berger's education policy has been mostly about trying to improve public schools.

But Berger's overly ambitious plan to eliminate teacher tenure, against a backdrop of hostile rhetoric, may have done as much to anger teachers as anything.

The House, meanwhile, seems content to let public schools suffer whatever fate comes about from the fullest embrace of the school choice movement.

Teacher raises or not, walking back from that will not be easy in 2014.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Beth G. Johnson | Feb 12, 2014 15:45

If NC leaders want people to become the best possible teachers, then  rewarding only new teachers is NOT the way to achieve that.  NO one wants to enter a career path that offers no advancement and minimum respect.  The state of NC should be working to improve the state's public schools.  Improving schools would include such things as smaller classes, teacher aides for grades K - 3, newest text books, especially in the sciences, broad band internet in all schools and more computer labs, and also a raise for ALL teachers.

Beth G. Johnson, retired history teacher

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Feb 12, 2014 16:56

Hey, specific ideas... love it.  You make intelligent suggestions.


smaller classes - If the budget can afford it, yes.  One can argue smaller class sizes all the way down to a 1:1 ratio.  At what point will people without school-age children say, "Enough!"  I'm not sure anyone can answer that so this one is just one that will be argued forever.


teacher aides for grades K - 3 - Interesting.  Are you making a proposal that these aides should be paid?  I've seen classes where the PTA organizes unpaid teacher aides for classes.  Those classes that have interested, engaged families are well-staffed.  Those classes that have parents that are disinterested, well, they get out of it what they put into it.  (Kind of like parenting.)


newest text books - Again, this can be argued all the way to getting new books every year.  At some point the public in general will want their views represented in the argument.  A comparison might be made that all police cars should be the newest models with those new-sounding sirens and whatever else comes out new each year.  If you're not in law enforcement, you might not appreciate someone in law enforcement making that suggestion.


broad band internet in all schools - I'd like to hear specifics about what is lacking.  As a technology professional, I would find it hard to believe that there is no broadband internet in every school.  It might not be made available to students in some capacity -- but I have to believe it's there.


more computer labs -- "More" is subjective.  Define what is "enough" to make a strong case.  I'm biased as a technology professional -- but I agree computers can be a strong educational tool -- as "necessary" as a chalkboard.


a raise for ALL teachers -- Here's where you're going to find it difficult to across-the-board make a case.  For the teacher on leave with pay while a sexual misconduct investigation is made, are they deserving of a raise?  For the teacher who succeeds with everyone -- even with the most problematic children, does she deserve the same raise as another teacher who is pushing the limit of how often she can be out or late for work and has a high rate of failure in her class?


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 13, 2014 09:10

          Beth G. Johnson is on the right track.

          mccrory, etc. are anti-public school and want for profit schools so they and their buddies can profit from them. Not paying more experienced teachers what they are worth will cause many to leave the public school system and go elswhere. Another state or private school that pays more. mccrory, etc don't like tenure. What they really don't like is that local school administrations administer tenure. mccrory, etc don't trust locals.

             The real question is does this proposed legislation equally protect "all persons" it affects? Obviously, as aforementioned writter pointed out, it does not. It discriminates. Doing so opens the state(US) to littigation.

               "Where all are equal, there is no jealosy". Thomas Paine.



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