At a Tuesday morning roundtable sponsored by Dell, Intel and the N.C. Business Committee for Education, Gov. Pat McCrory spoke to educators and business leaders who were gathered at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to strategize about ways to improve teacher effectiveness and next generation learning.
Using the opportunity to reiterate his education goals for the upcoming legislative session , which include paying all teachers more, McCrory hammered home his idea to create a “career pathway plan.”
“We want to ensure teachers have a career…and not a temporary stopover,” said McCrory, explaining that currently teachers have no way to move up in their profession unless they move into higher-paying administrative roles – a career move that not all practitioners are interested in making.
In addition to proposing a two percent average pay increase for all teachers and paying beginning teachers even more, McCrory proposed last week to create a long-term plan that would entice more teachers to stay in the profession  by seeing salary increases that are linked to their work as teachers.
That plan includes paying more to those who mentor and train fellow teachers, teach subjects that have a high marketplace value like chemistry or math, and produce positive student outcomes in the classroom – e.g., higher test scores.
Participants in the roundtable also discussed how to harness technology to improve educational outcomes. McCrory agreed technology could help free up resources for other needs.
“You can do a chemistry lab on your iPad now,” explained McCrory, who said if students can conduct chemical simulations on a computer, then that would save the state money – money that could be used for something else, like paying teachers more.
“I’m rolling out a new budget tomorrow,” said McCrory. “The question is are we spending the money at the right place at the right time?”
McCrory has pledged to double the current textbook budget, which was slashed from more than $116 million to $2.6 million back in 2010, because the transition from textbooks to a digital learning environment hasn’t happened as fast as anticipated. And some superintendents, said McCrory, have put funds into digital learning only to fail to realize the cost associated with maintaining those new systems, leaving students with no textbooks and limited use of technology.
McCrory doesn’t want to punish kids as the state figures out how to make the leap from textbooks to digital resources, but he admitted he doesn’t have a transition plan in place yet.
After the roundtable discussion, the only current teacher sitting in on the roundtable discussion, Wake County middle school science teacher Bill Ferriter, told N.C. Policy Watch he likes what McCrory has proposed for improving the teaching profession.
“I hope it passes,” said Ferriter of McCrory’s teacher pay plan. “I can’t say I’m optimistic – legislative leaders say no money is available for it. But I believe the career pathways is a great start.”
Ferriter said the only way he is able to work in the classroom is thanks to his supplemental income from his consulting business as a professional development writer.
“I made more money in my consulting business last year than as a teacher. Is it the right decision for me to stay in the classroom? I work 70 hours per week to pay our bills and there are days I wonder if I lose out as a parent,” said Ferriter.
McCrory said he will reveal the details of his budget tomorrow, which will include how he plans to pay for his estimated $300+ million education plan .