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North Carolina’s General Assembly reconvenes in less than two weeks and it’s still unclear whether veteran teachers or state employees will see a pay raise this year.

Governor Pat McCrory has said raising the base salary for starting K-12 teachers is his goal, but available revenue will determine if others see a jump in pay.

State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson, who joins us this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon, says the state cannot afford to overlook any of its teachers:

“One of the first priorities must be to give all of our teachers a raise, ” said Atkinson in a radio interview with NC Policy Watch.

Atkinson also shares her thoughts on the proposal by some lawmakers to ditch the Common Core and replace it with new state standards, which have yet to be developed.

For an excerpt of Dr. Atkinson’s weekend radio interview, click below:
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In today’s News & Observer, a teacher from Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill writes about how her colleagues are running out of patience — and money.

Not only is our patience waning, but our strong sense of fairness also is having a difficult time reconciling what is happening to public education in the state of North Carolina. When I accepted my job as a teacher in 2007, I signed a contract – a contract that said I would receive very modest increases to my salary each year. Considering there are no other avenues for advancement as a classroom teacher, this made sense. Now, having never received the step increases I was promised, I have lost $11,360 in salary.

This year alone, I should make $5,400 more than I do. Without this income, I and many of my colleagues have taken on second jobs or are coaching and tutoring at our schools to fill the void. In fact 70 percent of the staff at my school must supplement their incomes this way to make ends meet. Even then, three staff members at Culbreth qualify for food stamps.

Then we saw the state pass tax breaks for the wealthy and further slash education budgets last year. And we began to realize: This is no longer a matter of patience. The treatment of public education in this state is an injustice. And since we teachers have no ability in this state to organize, and we don’t have enough money or clout to influence legislators, we have no choice but to speak with our feet.

Read the full text of Megan Taber’s letter here.

The Charlotte Observer hits the nail on the head with this editorial on the latest controversy surrounding North Carolina’s supposedly public charter schools:

“It’s disappointing that officials of some N.C. charter schools are trying to evade full disclosure of who gets paid what at the schools. Charters are ‘public’ schools and should be subject to the same transparency requirements as all other public schools. Read More

Last week’s disturbing news about an ongoing teacher exodus in North Carolina’s capital county (Chris Fitzsimon has the details in this morning’s “Monday numbers”) is rightfully provoking frustration and alarm in many places around the state. A couple of good editorials capture those emotions.

According to the Wilmington Star-News:

“At some point, the state, which pays teacher salaries, is going to put itself at risk of not having enough teachers to carry out its constitutional mandate on schools.

Our students deserve the best and brightest teachers. What is happening in Wake County, which is consistently rated as one of the top places to live in the nation, is not a good sign.”

And Raleigh’s News & Observer puts it this way in an editorial responding to last week’s press conference in Raleigh announcing the bad news: Read More

TeachersAccording to the market fundamentalist think tanks, North Carolina teachers are not really underpaid or overworked. Over the last several years, their websites have been replete with articles informing us that North Carolina has a comparatively low cost of living, that teaching is not a year-round profession and other such arguments that supposedly should allay concerns about teacher well-being.

Meanwhile, over in the real world, the evidence to the contrary continues to accumulate. One would hope that the latest news from Wake County (“Wake County sees an ‘alarming’ rise in teacher resignations”) would finally convince these folks of the error of their arguments. After all, here is a classic “free market” moment — a point in time in which people are acting on the ground based on rules of “supply and demand.”

This is from coverage of the story at WRAL.com:

“Teachers in Wake County have been leaving their jobs mid-year at a greater rate than in years past,” Assistant Superintendent Doug Thilman said. “Given the flat pay scale over the past few years, the recent legislated removal of both career status and higher pay for teachers with graduate degrees, increased teacher turnover has been expected.”

Don’t be surprised, however, if the groups find some new way to dutifully parrot the Pope-McCrory line in the coming days and come up with some creative explanations as to why so many teachers are leaving. And you can bet just about anything that their take won’t include a call for across-the-board raises.