Education, NC Budget and Tax Center

Does the state superintendent even know any teachers?

On Thursday last week Mark Johnson, N.C. Superintendent, commented that $35,000 is “good money” for young teachers.

According to the Living Income Standard, a measure that calculates the minimum amount a family needs to make ends meet, an adult with one child needs just over $35,710 a year to scrape by. That means no vacation, no extracurriculars, no eating out — only the basics. Add the potential responsibilities of an aging parent or a broken down car and it’s quite possible that many teachers may not be able to make ends meet on their teaching salaries alone.

Another major oversight on Johnson’s behalf?

The more than $3.1 trillion in crippling students debt today’s graduates bear. From 2004 to 2014, the average debt held by college graduates in North Carolina rose from $16,863 to more than $25,000. While college tuition and student debt rose, the North Carolina General Assembly ended the popular NC Teaching Fellows Program in 2011, which incentivized good teachers to remain in NC by forgiving student loans for those who committed to teach in the state. Although the state will bring back the program in the next school year, the program will only be available at five schools, none of which are Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU), an issue which has been highlighted by those concerned with the diversity of North Carolina’s teaching pool.

While Johnson’s comments about “good money” were likely accurate for whom he envisioned as a “young” recent college graduate, it is far from reality for many.

This former teacher and husband of an educator knows just how hard teachers in North Carolina work. Going in early, staying late, talking students through homework help over the weekend, attending schools events in the evening, and paying for school supplies out of their own pocket is all something they commit to but are not paid for.

North Carolinian teachers — who work hard and are care takers, who have debt — deserve jobs that pay a real, living wage and a state superintendent who understands what that means.

3 Comments


  1. George Zeller

    January 29, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    Mark Johnson is a young man with few life experiences… If he was truly interested in education he would have lasted more than a year in the classroom and returned to school to get fully certified. The State Superintendent position is now a farce.

  2. Robert price

    January 30, 2018 at 10:55 am

    He is about to know me. I will become a teacher soon Andi find his comments those of a person uneducated in the field he speaks facts about.

    By the way, if he believes his facts are correct, what is his stance on the lottery that was hailed as a teacher salary increase? He needs to ponder thus question for he and I will soon meet and he had better have a non political answer ready.

  3. Dr. K. lewis

    January 30, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I agree with George Zeller 100%. Mark Johnson being elected as State Superintendent makes NC an even bigger joke than it already was.

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