Commentary, NC Budget and Tax Center, Raising the Bar 2015

Editor’s note: The following post By Dr. Mark Edwards, Superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District, is the latest installment in “Raising the Bar” — a new series of essays and blog posts authored by North Carolina leaders highlighting ways in which North Carolina public investments are falling short and where and how they can be improved.

A group of visitors to Mooresville Graded School District and Park View Elementary School were walking around the third grade class when a guest superintendent from Missouri asked a young man, “What are you working on?”

The student replied, “I am working on my reading.”

“How are you doing on your reading?” the superintendent followed up.

“Fantastic!” the young man replied, smiling. “Here, I will show you my report.” The student then pulled up a personal profile spread sheet of his reading results.

“See the blue line? That’s me going up two months ahead of my reading level.” The little boy looked at the superintendent and asked, “Do you understand what trajectory means?”

“Well, yes I do,” the superintendent replied.

“Well good then. I will show you my trajectory… See that green line above the blue line? That’s my trajectory. That’s where I’m headed,” the student explained.

“Do you think you can do it?” the superintendent asked.

“I know I can. Because I am in charge of my learning.”

I am encouraged that Gov. Pat McCrory is focusing attention on beginning salaries and funding some efforts to recognize teacher-leaders. In order for North Carolina to actually compete with other states, however, we need to look for significantly broader support. In Mooresville, we are known for our digital conversion and for excellence in student achievement.

The absolute key to our success is the human infrastructure of great teachers, principals and staff going above and beyond the call of duty day after day and year after year. When we recruit against surrounding states like Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, we are facing a six to ten thousand dollar salary disadvantage.

The treatment of our state’s teachers is creating a drastic drop in enrollment in our Colleges of Education throughout North Carolina; furthermore, it is causing veteran teachers to retire ahead of when many planned because they feel disheartened and dishonored. 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


National education experts and leading policymakers will be in Raleigh next week for the 29th annual Emerging Issues Forum.

The two-day conference, focusing on how teacher quality impacts educational outcomes and economic competitiveness, comes at a time that teacher satisfaction is near an all time low in the Tar Heel state. North Carolina currently ranks 46th in the nation in teacher pay.

Anita Brown-Graham, director of the the Institute for Emerging Issues, says this year’s forum provides a chance to discuss how North Carolina can design and fund a competitive compensation system that attracts and retains world-class talent in the teaching profession.

Speakers this year include former NC Governor Jim Hunt and the following national leaders:

  • Diane Ravitch, Research Professor, New York University and author of Reign of Error
  • William Haslam, Governor, State of Tennessee
  • Dan Pink, New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author
  • Rick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Pasi Sahlberg, Director General, Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland

Governor Pat McCrory is expected to address the issue of teacher pay when he speaks on Monday.

For those interested in hearing from the speakers on February 10th and 11th, the sessions will be available as a free live video-stream.

Brown-Graham joins us this weekend on N.C. Policy Watch’s weekend radio show, News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon, with a preview.

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