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June Atkinson calls for 10 percent salary increase for teachers

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

It’s a long, long way from action on the N.C. General Assembly floor, but N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson today called for a 10 percent raise for all teachers in North Carolina.

“We need to get at the core reasons why teachers leave the classroom or go to another state,” said Atkinson.

It’s an important year for teacher raises, as many public education advocates point out recent pay increases passed on by GOP leadership in the legislature have brought the average teacher pay in North Carolina to just 42nd in the nation, with average pay of more than $47,000.

The national average exceeds $57,000, according to the National Education Association. 

And, with 2016 being an election year, some leaders in the legislature have publicly stated their intentions for some sort of raises this year.

On Wednesday, Atkinson, addressing the House Select Committee on Education Strategy and Practices, called for a “wedding cake” approach to teacher pay.

Atkinson pointed out wedding cakes require a good foundation. For teachers, that foundation would be a 10 percent pay raise across-the-board.

“It goes back to the whole notion that teachers believe there’s a sense of fairness about salary,” Atkinson said. “I would want North Carolina to be extremely bold.”

Atkinson said her “wedding cake” analogy would also include adding layers of “educational leaders” to the public education structure, which would include peer evaluation specialists for teachers, instructional coaches and professional development coordinators.

More details on Atkinson’s plan as they becomes available.

12 Comments


  1. Ron Noles

    January 27, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    As a teacher in N.C. that is at the top of the pay scale with 37 years experience, I can see how the state has tried to provide raises. The Idea of across the board raises is fantastic but even then the way that teachers at the top of the pay scale have done without and listened to all of the false promises in the past. I feel that these teachers are reaching the point of giving up, even though they have the passion for teaching and a love for their students. A person can only take abuse for so long before they walk away.

  2. Toni Snyder

    January 28, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Thank you!!! Teachers need to have the respect they used to have to feel they are looked upon with admiration as in the past. Confidence in anyone goes a long long way

  3. John

    January 28, 2016 at 5:26 am

    What about regular state employee’s. Why is it always about the teacher’s?

  4. Sandra

    January 28, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Please….what about all the classified employees? Especially the ones that are the face of the school. Our raises in the last 7 years are not even sufficient to cost of living and we are hurting.

    Why is always about teachers? It like all our hard work and responsibility is not even appreciated. We need a GOOD AND SUFFICIENT RAISE!

  5. Warren

    January 28, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Sandra and John, everyone does deserve fair pay and good working conditions. Several of the reasons you hear teacher pay addressed so often are: Teachers can use their education and experience to make much more in the private sector. Math and science teachers AVERAGE making $20,000 more in the private sector. That is a national average. Since North Carolina is so far below the national average, NC teachers are underpaid even more. Another reason is that test scores directly impact how teachers are treated–and whether or not they have a job. That is not the case with classified employees or other state employees. If the teacher were the reason for the test scores, all students under a given teacher would make EXACTLY the same score. There are other factors teachers cannot control, but they can lose their jobs because of them. Talk about unfair! As important as classified employees and other state employees are, they do not have that responsibility. Because of the greater responsibility, teachers should be compensated. Instead, teachers have had benefits taken away by the legislature. One year, the governor arbitrarily decided to take over $200 from every teacher’s pay in one month! Did that happen to non-teachers. (The answer is no.) In addition to NC teacher pay being among the worst in the country (you can’t be proud of that,) the new teacher pay schedule that was just introduced gives teachers only 5 raises in a 35 year career.

    There are other reasons, but I will close by saying that teachers can make more money, have more respect, and be treated better by taking their skills and going to other fields. Teachers have bills and feelings just like everyone else, and we are losing many good ones because they are leaving for the above reasons. If the state wants to keep them, it will have to pay them and both the state and society will have to treat them well. Otherwise, why should they stay? Commitment, loving children, and the other “guilt reasons” people try to lay on teachers aren’t working any more. They can find other jobs where they are just as committed and love children just as much. Teachers are realizing they have families, feelings, and bills just like everyone else–and they are understanding that it is OK for them to be want to be treated and paid fairly. In this country, we are supposed to have inalienable rights to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–teachers included–and many teachers are leaving education in pursuit of those things. Not doing right by some people is no excuse for mistreating teachers. It is just fine for teachers to want to pursue their inalienable rights in this country.

  6. Melody

    January 28, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Really an average of $47,000 just isn’t working for our teachers. These teachers feel that they are abused, neglected,taken advantage and obviously more important than the police officers,care takers and other state employees who don’t average $47,000 who work just as hard and are just as dedicated to their career choice. I think it is time that we start comparing some of the other state and county positions and what their average salary is across the nation in comparison to North Carolina. It seems to me that teachers seem to be missing is the fact that if they want that higher average pay available in that other state then they can simply move to that other state. Oh wait, along with the higher salary is the higher cost of living. Maybe you and the legislators should think about some of the other state and county employees that are unable to get any kind of raise because the legislators seem to always come through with some additional amount for teachers every year.

  7. Lori Weaver

    January 28, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    What about teacher assistants? Our pay is pathetic and we do all the work the teachers don’t have time to do. In some cases we even sub for a teacher and no extra pay. We teach one on one and attend workshops. We do all the running around, but are quickly informed we are nothing but a dime a dozen. AND slowly doing away with our positions. Do you feel the same way and if so, are you just saying it for SHOW….

  8. Mary

    January 29, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I appreciate all that you have done and continue to do for education. However, I ask that you also focus on the salaries of other school employees as well. As an administrator (AP) who makes less than a teacher on the pay scale, I urge you to remember that some groups haven’t had a pay raise in 8 years. We work hard too! Thanks.

  9. Carol

    January 29, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Adding on to the conversation, teachers also had their longevity taken away! Why are we being singled out for that? You don’t ask a doctor or a plumber can they come down on their salary and fees, so why do people thinks teachers should?

  10. Gail

    January 30, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Just a reminder that most state employees have not had a raise either. It would be nice for us all to have a raise.

  11. Lana

    January 30, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Must I remind you, that if we didn’t have teachers, we would/could not have the knowledge of reading to be learned enough to have jobs..teachers are the basis of all jobs..therefore, we don’t need to lose them..they have bills and college to pay back….Of you can rad this post…..thank a teacher for teaching you to read.

  12. Stephanie Schou

    February 1, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I appreciate this effort, but I also so the immediate response by the austerity mongers in the legislature. Their push to privatize education through “reform” measures such as vouchers, charters, and on-line schools are already rolling. My frustration is mounting. I have taught 27 years. I have stayed because I care. I cannot imagine what it will take to turn their thinking around.

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