Teachers asked to trade security for pay raise

By Paul T. O'Connor | Jun 02, 2014


Many a North Carolina family will gather at the kitchen table this month if the state Senate’s teacher salary plan becomes law.

Teachers may have a big decision ahead: Take the pay raise but lose “career status” job security, or, keep career status and get no raise, maybe not another raise for as long as Republicans control the General Assembly.

The raise will tempt many teachers. While they average 11 percent, for teachers at the eighth year level, the raise is 20 percent, or $4,970. At the 20th year, the raise is a bit less in percentage terms at 17.2 percent, but it’s largest in dollar at $6,367.

Such raises would be only the second for teachers since 2008. Two years ago, teachers got a 1.2 percent hike.

Many teachers enjoy their career status, often mischaracterized as “tenure,” because it gives them due process rights in the event they are fired. But for teachers who have good relationships with their principals and other administrators, that security may not be worth the money they’d be denying themselves.

There are families, however, that rely on the security of a teacher’s salary. One spouse is a teacher, with a steady, reliable income. The other has riskier work like owning a small business. In some families, security is more important.

For teachers who do not have secure relationships with their supervisors, surrendering career status means they’d be working on a one-year contract and could be dismissed with little recourse in 2015.

For the most veteran teachers, the raise is so small that they may deem it foolish to give up career status. At the 29th year, teachers get only a 1.7 percent raise, or $143. At 30 and above, the raise is even smaller in percentage terms.

Teachers must also decide how they feel politically about the Senate. It’s likely many teachers will take the big raise and still be angry at the legislature.

Here’s why: The raise is funded with $390 million in cuts to public education, and that likely means larger class sizes, fewer teacher aides, less money for supplies and textbooks and more duties for teachers.

Teachers are also likely to carry hurt feelings about the many nasty comments Republicans have made about their profession over the last several years.

Here’s something many are likely to do: Take the raise and then vote Democratic in hopes that party control will switch one day. Once that happens, Democrats are almost certain to reinstate career status with teachers being allowed to keep these big raises.

Initial teacher reaction from the teachers’ main organization, the N.C. Association of Educators, was not good. It blasted the plan. So that raises the question whether the salary increases accomplish the two goals the Senate set out to achieve: Stem the flow of teacher resignations and alleviate teacher and parent anger at Republican legislators before the November elections.

We’ll get answers to both questions soon.


Comments (5)
Posted by: Penny R Wallace | Jun 02, 2014 11:57

I know I'll be voting against the Republicans and this is just one reason.  We all need educated people to work with and to work for us with sufficient skills and abilities to keep our society ticking along.  As an employer years ago I always chose to hire the people who evidenced the best education even when I was hiring entry level staff.  Because they were easier to train, did better work and communicated better with co-workers and supervisors.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 02, 2014 12:46

"I'll be voting against the Republicans and this is just one reason" -- Ms. Wallace, can you articulate why it helps people be educated if teachers are paid more and are more difficult to fire?  We had a very detailed and studied article a few weeks ago about how paying more for teachers with advanced degrees did not increase test scores in nearly all studies.  What is the justification for arguing more pay and more job security for teachers?  (Not saying there isn't one -- just that your general statement would be more persuading if you included that justification.)

Posted by: Joe Vescovi | Jun 03, 2014 09:28

As article pointed out tenure only insures "due process rights if fired".  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone who works for another could feel that if they do their job they wouldn't be fired on the whim of their boss?  Giving your all for the children of NC and being paid a salary near the bottom in the country for the profession surely doesn't help.  And then to have to chose between job security or a salary increase.  What are our legislators thinking??!!

As many teachers in NC are now considering, teach a few years to get some experience and then look elsewhere in another state where their financial security and respect are better appreciated.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 03, 2014 09:50

I've asked before and never received a competent response:


What "due process rights" does a teacher with tenure receive that a teacher without tenure will not receive?  Please be specific.


"What are our legislators thinking??!!" -- I'll take a wild guess.  The concept of tenure today as it's implemented is bad for everyone.  But it's a benefit nonetheless and taking that benefit away should fairly provide some consideration.


"teach a few years to get some experience and then look elsewhere in another state where their financial security and respect are better appreciated." -- If we have a shortage of teachers, salaries will go up.  It's the law of supply and demand.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 09, 2014 10:32

          The current legislators don't give a flying fat rat's patoot about "supply and demand". They are following the right-wing playbook which requires ending unions, denying due process of tenure, de-establishing public education. Their ultimate goal is publicly funded for profit private religious schools that are not required to teach the easily proven facts about evolution, but are free to prosylitize instead.

         In N.C. any private employer may fire any employee for any reason whatsoever. Teacher tenure prevents such nonsense by ensuring "due process" whereby the rational for the firing must be provided and proven, and gives the teacher some sense of comfort against indiscriminant loss of job.


             The previous scheme of "rewarding" a pay raise to 25% of teachers who must quailify by abandoning their tenure, was ruled unconstitutional. Considering the inequalities of the current proposal, I'd bet they will be too.



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