Commentary

Forsyth County high school teacher attacks conservative claims about “commitment” to teachers

Teacher payForsyth County high school teacher and occasional NC Policy Watch contributor Stuart Egan has another essay in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal entitled “About those teacher salaries and raises….” In it, Egan explains why he views all the recent talk from North Carolina conservatives touting their supposed “commitment” to teachers and raising average salaries above $50,000 as election year spin.

Here’s Egan:

“The last four years have seen tremendous changes to teacher pay. For new teachers entering in the profession here in North Carolina, there is no longer any graduate-degree pay bump, no more longevity pay (for any teacher) and a changed salary schedule that makes it possible for a teacher almost top out on the salary schedule within 15 years with minimal raises for the last 15 years until retirement.

And that top salary for new teachers is barely over $50,000.

So, how can the average pay in North Carolina be over $50,000 when no one can really make much over $50,000 per year as a new teacher in his or her entire career unless they all become nationally certified (which takes a monetary investment by the teacher to get)?

Easy. He [Gov. McCrory] is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgust the governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to ‘lower’ them are actually being used to tout the governor’s bold statement.

Furthermore, the governor is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of a budget that is allocating less money to the central offices of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to essentially offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements. Just look at Arika Herron’s story in the Aug. 7 Journal, “Schools facing salary pinch.”

Any veteran teacher who is making above $50,000 based on seniority, graduate pay and national boards are gladly counted in this figure. It simply drives up the current average pay. But when these veteran teachers who have seniority, graduate pay and possibly national certification retire (and many are doing that early at 25 years), then the very people who seem to be a ‘burden’ on the educational budget leave the system.

In reality, that would drive the average salary down as time goes on. But McCrory is only talking about the right here and right now.

Remember the word ‘average’ is a very easy word to manipulate. In this case, the very teachers who are driving the ‘average’ salary up are the very people that the state wants to not have in a few years. There will then be a new average. It can’t possibly be over $50,000 then, if current trends keep going.”

Click here to read the entire op-ed.

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