WRAL TV will debut a new documentary tonight about North Carolina’s dwindling commitment to funding public education entitled “Grading Teacher Pay.” This is from a lengthy article summarizing the program:
“At the start of his fourth term in 1997, North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt asked a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate to raise the state’s teacher pay to the national average in four years in an effort to attract and retain more teachers.
By the time Hunt left office, North Carolina had risen in the national rankings and moved closer to the country’s average teacher salary. During the 2001-02 school year, the state ranked 19th in the U.S. for average teacher pay, less than $2,000 from the then-national average of $44,655, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
But in the years since Hunt left the governor’s mansion, the state’s ranking has plummeted. In 2013-14, North Carolina hit its lowest rank in more than a decade – 47th in the nation, with teachers paid nearly $12,000 below the national average of $56,610.
When adjusted for inflation, North Carolina’s average teacher salary has dropped more than 13 percent since 1999, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The U.S. average teacher salary has dropped 1.8 percent in that same timeframe.”
The article goes on to make a compelling case that falling teacher salaries and education investments lead to a predictable outcome for students.
Also make time to listen to Chris Fitzsimon’s recent radio interview with Clay Johnson, the documentary producer of “Grading Teacher Pay.”
Meanwhile, a story on NPR this morning explores the flip-side of North Carolina’s ongoing disinvestment in public schools. In “How Massachusetts became the Best State in Education,” reporter Kirk Karapezza explains that in 1993, Massachusetts embarked upon an ambitious upgrade in its funding for public schools — especially in lower wealth communities.
“I really think that the funding was like winning the World Series,” says Karen English, a teacher of 36 years in Revere, a town just north of Boston where nearly 80 percent of students are low-income. “Everybody embraced [the extra funding], and just to have the curriculum and the books and the space made you wanna be here.”