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The conservative war on NC public school teachers neatly summarized

In case you missed it over the weekend, the good people at the Public School Forum of North Carolina produced an excellent response to the cheapskate teacher pay plan that the General Assembly produced and Gov. Cooper rightfully vetoed.

This is from the statement:

Today, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a ‘mini-budget’ bill passed by the General Assembly in October that would have offered teachers across the state pay raises that are grossly inadequate and do not reflect the tireless commitment North Carolina’s educators make to our children every day. Governor Cooper vetoed the raises at a time when teachers face nearly a decade of actions taken by state lawmakers to dramatically reduce the resources and tools they need to be successful in the classroom.

“The ‘mini-budget’ that was crafted by lawmakers does not value the incredible contributions our teachers make every day in schools across our great state,” said Dr. Michael Priddy, Interim Executive Director, Public School Forum of NC. “We can and must do more to value our teachers who sacrifice so much of their time and resources to educate our youth.”

The General Assembly approved average teacher raises of 3.9% over two years, and 2% raises for non-instructional staff. But additional language in the bill would have given educators a larger raise and a bonus — a clear indicator that we as a state have the resources to invest in our educators — but only if Democrats elected to override Governor Cooper’s veto of the state budget that was passed over the summer.

“Playing politics with teachers’ livelihoods is wrong,” said Priddy. “Given that our state has the resources necessary to invest in our teaching workforce and, by extension, our children, we trust that the Governor’s veto will lead to further negotiations and a proper resolution on teacher raises.”

The Public School Forum believes that it is critical that we as a state have an honest and accurate conversation about teacher pay and what increases in state spending for teacher salaries are necessary to begin to address the massive teacher shortages and inequities in salaries across North Carolina.

Over the past decade, North Carolina has witnessed a steady deprofessionalization of the teaching profession. While teachers have seen some pay increases since the Great Recession, these salary bumps obscure the fact that in many cases they have come at the expense of numerous classroom needs and teacher supports that are essential to student success, leaving our teachers to consider second jobs and/or different careers, and deterring our best and brightest from considering the profession altogether. The list below includes some of what teachers—and, by extension, students—have lost.

  • Loss of 8,000 teacher assistants in elementary classrooms;
  • Insufficient instructional resources and textbooks;
  • Insufficient mental health support personnel;
  • The elimination of longevity pay and master’s pay;
  • The elimination of career status (tenure), which offered teachers due process;
  • The elimination of state funds for professional development; and
  • The elimination of retiree health insurance benefits for teachers hired in 2021 and beyond;

As we stated in our teacher pay report released earlier this year, teaching is one of the most difficult, and undoubtedly the most important professions there is—and for the future of our state and all public schools, North Carolina teachers deserve better.

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