A bipartisan group of state senators have filed a bill that would restore master’s degree and doctoral pay for some teachers beginning next year.
Under Senate Bill 28, teachers who spend at least 70 percent of their work time teaching subjects related to their graduate degree would be eligible to receive extra money.
Teachers who already received extra pay for graduate degrees and those who had begun work on advanced degrees got to keep the pay supplements.
The bill’s primary sponsors are Sen. Danny Britt, (R-Robeson) and Sen. Rick Horner, (R-Johnston).
Neither could be reached for comment on Thursday.
In 2013, the Republican-led General Assembly stripped away extra pay for master’s degrees, contending teacher performance ought to dictate pay.
GOP leaders also argued that there was little evidence that teachers holding advanced degrees generated better academic outcomes for students.
One of them, State Rep. Craig Horn, a Union County Republican who chairs the House’s Education Appropriations Committee, has had a change of heart.
“Now, I’m told there’s data to support better outcomes for students,” Horn said. “I’m happy to support the bill [SB 28]. I believe if a teacher gets a master’s, the kids will benefit.”
Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said the General Assembly is headed in the right direction.
“It was disastrous to have it taken away in the first place,” Jewell said. “Clearly, it has been a major priority of ours to get that reinstated and it was a major priority during the teacher walkout on May 16. It’s about valuing our employees.”
Jewell said research shows that teachers with advanced degrees do impact student achievement.
He said paying teachers for advanced degrees is also a major recruitment tool for local school districts.
District leaders complained in 2013 that taking away extra pay for advanced degrees would hurt recruitment efforts in a state where teacher was already among the lowest in the country.
Jewell said he would never have moved to North Carolina in the 1990s if the state didn’t offer the extra 10 percent of salary for advanced degrees.
“I probably would have gone to work in Atlanta or somewhere in South Carolina where I would have been compensated,” Jewell said.