With an average teacher salary of $53,975, North Carolina climbed five spots to an estimated 29th in the country in the National Education Association’s Annual Rankings of the States report for 2018-19.
North Carolina also climbed from fourth to the second best-paying state in the Southeast when it comes to teacher pay.
After the previous year’s final ranking was calculated, North Carolina ranked 34th in the country with an average teacher salary of $51,231, which was 18 positions behind the national average of $60,462.
The National Education Association (NEA) has set $61,782 as the new projected national average. North Carolina is about $7,800 behind that mark.
“Funding teacher salaries in North Carolina must remain a top priority for our lawmakers,” said North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell.
He added: “In order to restore respect for the profession, and recruit and retain the best and most diverse teaching force for our students, the state must invest in professional salaries for all educators. The state must also fully restore programs such as Teaching Fellows and Teacher Cadet, and implement statewide the Teacher Assistant Tuition Scholarship initiative.”
Projected data in the NEA report is subject to change once the fiscal year ends
North Carolina’s teacher pay has benefited from several consecutive years of pay increases. The state had fallen to 47th in teacher pay in the NAE rankings in 2013.
“The facts don’t lie: Republican leadership has been great for teachers,” Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement to area media. “North Carolina Republicans have increased teacher pay for five consecutive years, and in the last two years we increased salaries by 9.9 percent.”
North Carolina could climb higher in the rankings if budget proposal to increase pay are approved by state lawmakers.
Jewell said Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget proposal would move the state closer to the national average and near the top in the Southeast.
Cooper has proposed a 9.1 percent average pay raise for teachers of the next two years with no teacher receive less than a 3 percent pay increase.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson has proposed raising teacher pay by 5 percent to 7 percent.