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Teacher pay raises: The real price comes into sharper focus

People_16_Teacher_BlackboardThe verdict on the confusing new pay structure enacted by the General Assembly and the Governor’s office continues to draw, at best, mixed reviews. As Raleigh’s News & Observer noted — somewhat charitably — last week:

Once again, the inexperience of Republican leaders is showing. Their teacher pay plan does address the need to pay less-experienced teachers more, and that’s good. But more experienced teachers aren’t getting much, which is going to encourage more of them to retire, and that’s not good.

Even if one gives state leaders credit for bumping up the pay for some of the state’s teacher workforce from its bottom-of-the-barrel status, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that their stubborn adherence to implementing new tax cuts is forcing the raises to be purchased at a very high price.

For the latest example of this troubling phenomenon, check out Lindsay Wagner’s story this morning over on the main PW site: “N.C. Department of Public Instruction forced to eliminate more than 50 jobs that serve struggling schools, technology infrastructure.” As Lindsay reports:

The agency tasked with implementing the state’s K-12 public school laws and policies is coping with a 10 percent funding cut handed down by lawmakers last week by eliminating more than 50 jobs, many of which are devoted to helping struggling schools.

“We’re abolishing approximately 54 positions out of roughly 450 state-funded staff positions,” said Dr. June Atkinson, State Superintendent of Public schools and head of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

It’s a 10 percent funding cut to DPI, the largest reduction to any state agency, said Atkinson.

And while defenders of the DPI cuts will argue that they’re all about slashing “bureaucracy,” the hard truth is that they are far from the only new “belt tightening” measures enacted in this year’s education budget. In other words, the pay raises remain essentially a fig leaf for what remains an ongoing, long-term war on public education waged by people committed to privatizing the single most important function of state government.

3 Comments

  1. Alex

    August 14, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    In the private sector, most companies use graduated pay ranges with larger increases for new folks and less increases as you move up the ladder so this is nothing new. Teachers usually retire at certain year levels like 25 or 30 years, so this should not have much of an impact on those decisions. At a certain point, benefits don’t increase any so it makes no sense to work past that point anyway.

  2. david esmay

    August 14, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Only in an upside down private sector Alex!

  3. Susan

    August 16, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Alex

    If someone retires after 25 years of working but they are only 45 years of age they will have to pay for insurance and let’s pretend they have a spouse and children on their insurance plan A family plan can easily cost around $800 every month (especially in NC where the benefits of the Affordable Care Act have not been fully potentiated)

    Let’s look at someone who has not had a raise in the past 8 years and receives a token raise of a few hundred dollars this year. Do you ready think they would retire? What if they are the main provider for the family?

    You must either be a trust fund baby or have already reached your maximum potential and are done as far as your annual evaluations go because I think you have a unrealistic view of what it feels like to live on $40000 annually.