New cut to master’s degree supplemental pay will affect more teachers than lawmakers previously thought

The North Carolina General Assembly just passed a budget bill that axed supplemental pay for teachers who obtain master’s degrees, beginning with the 2014-15 school year. Teachers who currently hold master’s degrees will be grandfathered in.

Some lawmakers were led to believe, however, that if a teacher completed their master’s degree next spring, they would be covered under the old law and receive the pay bump that is currently awarded to master’s degree holders, which for many equates to a 10-15% pay increase.

As it turns out, most teachers who graduate next spring will not receive the pay increase.

According to the Fiscal Research Division of the state legislature, members of the State Board of Education decided that the cut off for who will receive a master’s degree pay supplement will be April 1, 2014.

Rep. Rick Glazier says that he had been told that if a teacher had completed their program and was on the payroll by June 30, then that teacher would be paid on the master’s degree salary schedule going forward.

Few graduate programs wrap up and hold graduations before May or June.

Brian Matteson, who works in the Fiscal Research Division, told Glazier’s intern, Adam Svolto, that the State Board of Education could have pushed the deadline closer to June 30, but April 1 was selected to provide administrative lead time, and, perhaps, to ensure savings would quickly be realized from the provision.

Lynda Fuller, spokesperson for the Department of Public Instruction, explained that the April 1 date is policy that is spelled out in their salary manual, posted online.

Effective Date For Salary Purposes

For salary purposes, ALL degrees above the bachelor’s level that are earned:

–on or after April 1 of the current school year will become effective July 1 of the upcoming school year or

–prior to April 1 of the current school year will become effective in the same pay period as the license effective date

Casey Wilkinson, Chief of Staff for the NC House Democrats, told NC Policy Watch that this is a policy that can certainly be changed.

House Democrats are calling on State Superintendent June Atkinson to request that the State Board of Education extend the deadline to June 30th, 2014.

“It wasn’t enough for the Republican Majority to implement bad policy – they wrote the policy so vaguely that now we face a potential unintended consequence that will pull the rug out from educators a couple of months before they graduate,” said Glazier in a press release.

“All these educators believed when they enrolled that if they worked hard and graduated, our state would reward them with a small raise in exchange for their commitment to their own professional development. North Carolina must keep that promise,” Glazier concluded.

At this week’s final Moral Monday protest, a Wake County teacher told NC Policy Watch she is in the middle of her master’s degree program.

“I just emailed my advisor to see if I could speed up graduation,” she said. “It’s very disappointing. My master’s degree program has given me so much insight into teaching, but now it doesn’t matter anymore. It means nothing more than a bachelor’s degree at this point.”

We’ll keep you posted as we wait for a response from the State Board of Education.

7 Comments

  1. Tori Mazur

    August 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I am in a cohort of two dozen educators who have been working on our Master’s degree part-time for the past three years while we teach full-time. We have a year of action research left. While many programs are scrambling to fast-track the programs for their students, who ultimately gets short-changed?

    While I would love to be compensated for the additional $7,000 I’ve invested in my soon-to-be advanced degree, I want to attend to my research project thoroughly, not rushed because I want my further education to be valued with dollars. I will admit that I joined the cohort thinking it was my best chance at a “raise”. Now that isn’t even the case anymore.

    This is bad policy and needs to be rectified. When only 50% of charter school teachers need a college education, I can’t help but suspect that this policy is intentionally undermining the value of post-secondary education. I wonder what will happen to enrollment in such degree programs at our universities. The effects will both trickle up and trickle down.

    Tori Mazur
    Reading Specialist
    English as a Second Language Educator

  2. Shelley Smith

    August 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    My university is allowing us (if we wish) to fast track so that we can be compensated for our degrees. Very thankful that we are being given this option. This may be the only raise in salary we will ever again see.

  3. Jessica Lynn Nelson

    August 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    @Tori – totally agree with you. This policy will kill all educational master programs. Ironically, this is also destroying the reputation of STATE run universities. So, I am getting a master’s from NCSU and the republican senate and house is essentially saying that our State run University is not providing me with a quality education.

  4. Jessica Nelson

    August 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    *are essentially saying

  5. John

    August 6, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Sorry the pay was cut for those that thought they were getting a raise but as a RN who works for the state they have never offered any extra money for advance degrees for us either. Plus all we hear about is teachers pay. Well what about other state employee’s who are hurting as well. Plus several years ago I remember teachers received extra pay raises above other state employee’s. Now I agree teacher pay is not what it should be but neither is it for other state employee’s. Neither is minimum wage for that matter. I just wish the media would be fair to everyone and not only talk about teachers pay when others are hurting as well who works for the state.

  6. patricia

    August 8, 2013 at 12:23 am

    I just wish they would give me the money and time I already spent in a masters program that I can’t finish. I was only halfway when they randomly decided to cut the stipend. There is no fast tracking for me. And the time I spent working on classes instead of with my daughter is not replaceable. I was hoping to make more money to help her and make our life better. It would be nice to take a vacation and not struggle to make ends meet.

  7. Jay

    August 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    People talk about fair and what about other jobs. To be honest if it was not for teacher none of us would have a job. The world has to be taught. Fair is fair, but school is the foundation. I do not even teach, but teacher sneed money for the work they do. Without a world of teachers we educate ourselves with useless knowledge.