Local money paid teachers on top of state teacher salaries artificially inflate North Carolina’s average salary for educators, according to the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE).
“It is telling that if the local supplements were removed from the calculation, teacher pay in our state would be near the bottom of the national rankings,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly.
Walker Kelly’s remark comes on the heels of the National Education Association’s annual average teaching salary rankings. North Carolina ranked 33rd nationally in teacher pay with an average teacher salary of $54,150 for the 2019-20 school year.
The NCAE contends, however, that that’s mathematically impossible because the current state salary schedule shows that the most a North Carolina teacher can earn after 30 years is $52,000 in state salary unless they have an advanced degree or other credentials that warrant higher pay.
North Carolina ranked 33rd last year. It was 31st in the 2018-19 school year.
The salary information reported to NEA errantly includes all sources of funding for teacher pay, including local supplements paid by counties and cities, the NCAE said.
“As a result, the average teacher salary is artificially inflated by more than $4,500,” the NCAE said. “The number is further inflated by the inclusion of other compensation, such as state annual leave, which should not be included in the calculation.”
The 33rd ranking places North Carolina above Kentucky and Alabama in the Southeast.
“It is clear from this analysis that public school educators in North Carolina are not being compensated at nearly the same rate as their colleagues in neighboring states,” Walker Kelly said. “If we are serious about attracting and retaining the best and brightest educators for our students, the Legislature must do its part to fully fund educator salaries and stop relying on local governments to make up the difference.”
Meanwhile, leaders of the Republican-led General Assembly contend teacher pay has increased by 20% over the last five years.
A spokesman for Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham, told the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday that teachers would be earning more had Gov. Roy Cooper not vetoed the state budget in 2019 that called for an average 3.9% pay raise for teachers over two years.
Cooper called the pay proposal insufficient. He also vetoed a standalone bill for teacher for the same reason.
This year, Cooper has proposed a 10% raise for teachers over the next two years. He also wants to give teachers a $2,000 bonus this year, a $1,000 bonus next year and restore pay teachers extra for advanced degrees.