Education, News

Public School Forum report: “NC’s ‘average’ teacher pay myth”

A new report from the good people at the Public School Forum finds that more than 80 percent of North Carolina’s school districts report average teacher salaries that are below the state “average.”

This is from the release that accompanied the report, “North Carolina’s ‘Average’ Teacher Pay Myth”:

A new report by the Public School Forum of NC finds that average teacher salaries in more than 80 percent of North Carolina’s school districts fall below the reported statewide average teacher salary of $53,975.

Why are teachers in the vast majority of North Carolina districts earning less than the state average compiled and reported by the NC Department of Public Instruction?

“Our analysis finds that the state average teacher salary reported by the NC Department of Public Instruction includes calculations that inflate the state “average,” which results in a misrepresentation of what teachers actually earn in most districts,” said Dr. Lauren Fox, Senior Director of Policy for the Public School Forum. “We also find that the reported statewide average includes an average local salary supplement figure that obscures the substantial differences in local salary supplements from one district to another, resulting in large disparities in average teacher pay depending on location.”

In this report, “North Carolina’s “Average” Teacher Pay Myth,” the Public School Forum presents their analysis of North Carolina teacher salary data, highlighting the following key findings:

  • The average teacher salaries in more than 80 percent of North Carolina’s school districts fall below the reported state average salary.
  • The gap between the average pay for teachers in the highest and lowest paying districts in North Carolina is more than $10,000.
  • On average, teachers in North Carolina earn substantially lower salaries than their similarly educated and experienced peers in other fields, ranking 45th in the country for “teacher salary parity.”
  • Average teacher salary varies widely from district to district due to inequities in local salary supplements that are funded through local property taxes, meaning the lowest paid teachers are typically found in the districts with the highest poverty rates.
  • The calculation used to determine the statewide average teacher salary reported by DPI includes bonuses and other funds that many teachers don’t receive.

“The state’s reported “average” teacher salary is clearly inflated by the significant supplemental pay provided to teachers by local governments and districts that have the wealth to do so,” said Keith Poston, president and executive director of the Public School Forum. “It’s one reason why the reported average pay leaves so many teachers scratching their heads and looking at their own paycheck because in reality in most school districts teachers earn less than the average.”

“The discussions that policymakers have around the important issue of teacher pay and whether or not we are competitive with both other states and other professions have become distorted over time,” Poston said.  “It is critical that we as a state have an honest and accurate conversation about teacher pay, and then all work together to lift up the teaching profession as a whole.”

Click here to open the report in PDF.

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