North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) on Monday announced plans to boost teacher pay, but not all teachers are celebrating.
After months of teacher protests over various cuts to public education –- including a teacher pay freeze -- McCrory and other state legislative leaders said they will introduce a strategy for raising the minimum teacher salary. The proposed plan would raise the minimum salary for teachers with up to 10 years of experience, from $30,800 to $33,000 during the 2014 – 2015 school year and from $33,000 to $35,000 during 2015 – 2016, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The plan also extends supplemental pay bumps for teachers who began working on a master’s degree by July 1, 2013, but not after that date. A budget that was passed in July 2013 controversially ended this previously automatic pay raise.
Some education advocates contend that McCrory’s plan's does not go far enough. They note that the plan, should it pass the legislature, will impact teachers at the start of their career, but they point out that it does not outline pay bumps for veteran teachers. In sum, they fear that the plan would not impact a majority of teachers in the state.
Furthermore, the plan would leave North Carolina teachers' starting salary below the national average. According to the National Education Association, the 2012 – 2013 national average for starting teacher salaries was $36,141. During that year, North Carolina paid starting teachers a mere $30,778.
McCrory noted in his release that he may announce more pay increase proposals for teachers as the "revenue outlook becomes clearer and available.”
At a news conference Monday, McCrory said teachers have not received pay raises in recent years due to budgetary issues, according to local outlet WRAL-TV.
"It's about time we start showing respect for our teachers," he said, per WRAL. "For the past six years or so, North Carolina has not made the needed investments in its teachers."
Following the announcement, the North Carolina House Democratic Caucus started a petition demanding a pay raise for all teachers.
“This Republican plan only offers a pay raise to a select few teachers at a time when ALL teachers in North Carolina deserve a raise. The plan DOES NOT raise teacher pay to the national average, DOES NOT make teacher pay in NC competitive with other states -– like Virginia –- that are luring teachers away and DOES NOT offer a plan that will prepare our students for the modern workforce,” reads the petition.
The North Carolina Association of Educators also had a vitriolic response to 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,” said the statement.
Since last year, when the state legislature passed a budget that ended a series of benefits for teachers, some worried that there would be an exodus of teachers away from the state or out of the profession.
Indeed, a January survey of teachers found that 96 percent of respondents said "public education in North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction,” while 74 percent signaled “they were less likely to continue working as a teacher/administrator in NC,” as a result of recent legislation.