NC Association of Educators: Local supplements artificially inflate average teacher pay

Teachers rally in Raleigh for better pay in 2018.

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.

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.

Click for an interactive map of the NEA rankings for 2019-2020.


HRC President to NCAA: time to pull tournaments in states that discriminate against trans athletes

The president of the Human Rights Campaign is asking the NCAA president and governing board to pull tournaments from states that have passed laws and executive orders barring transgender women from women’s sports.

As Policy Watch has reported, a bill is still in play in North Carolina that could do just that. As HRC President Alphonso David points out in his letter, similar bills have already passed into law in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. A ban is in place in South Dakota by executive order.

NCAA and pro athletes have called for the NCAA to take the step, to which it has not yet explicitly committed. The NCAA has a policy that allows for the inclusion of transgender athletes and has said that it will work to be sure transgender athletes are safe from discrimination in states where it operates events. But tournaments are scheduled for Alabama and Tennessee in less than three weeks.

“This is a national crisis, and one that necessitates united action, including from the NCAA,” David wrote. “In sanctioning states that enact blatantly discriminatory laws in violation of NCAA policy, the NCAA will not only be standing on the right side of history, it will also be putting itself squarely in line with the overwhelming majority of the American people. A poll released on April 16 made clear that the vast majority of Americans, including a majority of Americans in all political parties, oppose legislation limiting the rights of transgender student athletes.”

Read David’s full letter below:

Dear President Emmert & NCAA Governance,

Thank you for your response to my March letter. I am also grateful for your subsequent statement condemning anti-trans sports legislation and committing to tournament host sites that are “safe, healthy, and free of discrimination,” but we need the NCAA to turn that commitment into action to achieve impact for athletes. According to our analysis and after hearing from transgender athletes across the country and in these states, the anti-transgender legislation being passed and enacted do create an unsafe, unhealthy, and discriminatory environment for transgender athletes. This merits and necessitates action from the NCAA to withdraw championship events from the states that have already enacted such legislation, and make clear that states that enact them in the future will face the same consequences.

In Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Dakota there are now overtly discriminatory laws or, in the case of South Dakota, executive orders, banning transgender athletes from participating in sports. Similar bills are currently awaiting signature or veto by governors in Montana and West Virginia, and could soon be enacted into law. With NCAA tournaments scheduled to take place in Alabama and Tennessee in less than three weeks, the time for concrete actions is now.

As I wrote to you last time, the number of anti-LGBTQ bills we are seeing in state legislatures across the country is unprecedented. And sadly, an unprecedented number are likely to become law. 2021 is poised to surpass 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history. So far in 2021, 11 anti-LGBTQ bills have already been enacted, and another nine are already on governors’ desks awaiting signature. If these bills are enacted into law, it would mean that states will have enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined.

This is a national crisis, and one that necessitates united action, including from the NCAA. In sanctioning states that enact blatantly discriminatory laws in violation of NCAA policy, the NCAA will not only be standing on the right side of history, it will also be putting itself squarely in line with the overwhelming majority of the American people. A poll released on April 16 made clear that the vast majority of Americans, including a majority of Americans in all political parties, oppose legislation limiting the rights of transgender student athletes.

We appreciate the NCAA’s past and present leadership, including its most recent statements. But there is more that must be done because the lives of young LGBTQ people are on the line.

And to be clear, people are already dying. These bills are further fueling the stigma that is driving a wave of anti-trans violence devastating our community. So far in 2021, we are on track to more than double the number of trans and gender non-conforming people killed in 2020, which was already the deadliest year on record.

With the NCAA’s commitment to safety, how can holding tournaments in these states possibly keep student-athletes safe? The only way forward to protect the people the NCAA works so hard to serve is by sanctioning the states fueling hate and violence against our community.

Thank you again for continuing to be in dialogue with me about this issue. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. My staff and I stand ready to assist with any information and to support the work ahead.

Alphonso David

President of the Human Rights Campaign


Governors, school leaders offer look at how states will address learning loss

The National Governors Association (NGA) in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) shared a white paper Thursday that highlights “trends and notable strategies” states are using to address COVID-19 learning loss.

The paper was prepared by Education First, a national strategy and policy organization.

“One year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced state and school leaders across the nation and around the world to immediately close school buildings, the lasting impact on students is increasingly evident: Months of online learning and limited in-person interaction with educators, coaches and mentors have led to gaps in learning, and unknown emotional impacts on millions of K12 students and educators,” the paper said.

Here’s what the report said about North Carolina’s summer learning program:

“North Carolina will require districts to offer at least 150 hours of summer instruction in addition to offering sports and enrichment activities through the Summer Learning Choice for NC Families bill. Students are not required to attend summer school, but districts are expected to target programs toward students who are performing significantly below their peers. The new effort includes funding for transportation and lunch to make it easier for families to participate.”

The report refers to legislation approved unanimously by the North Carolina General Assembly that requires school districts to offer at least 150 hours or 30 days of in-person instruction this summer to help students who have fallen behind academically.

The summer program will focus on students at risk of failing academically. However, attendance is voluntary, and any student may attend if space is available.

The State Board of Education met Monday to approve guidance for the summer program. The law requiring it, House Bill 82, was unanimously approved by lawmakers.

“This summer is a critical opportunity to provide immediate academic recovery for our students, as well as to lay the foundation for strategic, structural and long-term improvement in our state public school system,” State Board Chairman Eric Davis said during the called board meeting.

School districts will use federal coronavirus relief money to help pay for the summer programs. The state board will also seek state funding for the program.

“While we’re thoughtfully using these federal funds, we look forward to partnering with the General Assembly to provide state funding from our strong and resilient North Carolina economy to ensure maximum impact of all of these resources,” Davis said.

The NGA/CCSSO paper identified four major steps states are taking to address COVID-19 learning loss.

Those steps include:

  • Using creative tools to communicate proactively and engage key stakeholders about emerging plans, such as task forces and partnerships. State leaders also are providing school districts with planning frameworks and tools to streamline the process and ensure critical issues are considered.
  • Developing a variety of summer activities designed to boost learning and enable students to reconnect with one another. With support from new federal funds, states are helping to stand up tutoring programs, learning and enrichment camps, community service, apprenticeships, and more traditional summer schooling.
  • Ensuring students have access to targeted help for both their academic needs and overall well-being. Again with new federal funding sources, states are examining potential partnerships to address specific academic needs, including efforts to provide more learning time during or after school.
  • Planning ahead to address other difficult issues, even as states roll out implementation details and work to address the pandemic’s many harms to students, families and educators. These longer-term issues may include how to use one-time federal funds smartly and strategically; how best to target resources and programs for the students who need them most; finding creative and effective ways to support educators as they are asked to continue to do more; aligning state policymakers and agencies on a common plan; and taking stock of lessons from the pandemic — what worked and what hasn’t — to re-evaluate long-standing structures and approaches in the K-12 system.

Something old, something new for the State Board of Education

Gov. Roy Cooper

Gov. Roy Cooper has nominated Eric Davis, the State Board of Education chairman and Alan Duncan, the board’s vice chairman, for new eight-year terms.

Cooper also nominated Melody Chalmers McClain, a Cumberland County Schools assistant superintendent and Ronald Hargrave, former superintendent of Scotland County Schools to serve on the board that oversees North Carolina’s K-12 public schools.

The General Assembly must confirm the nominations.

McClain would replace Olivia Oxendine, a Pat McCrory appointee who has represented the Sandhills or 4th educational district since 2013. Hargrave would fill an at-large vacancy.

Here are brief bios shared Thursday in a press release from Cooper’s office:

Eric Davis

Davis is from Charlotte and is also a McCrory appointee. He represents the 6th educational district. Davis served as an Airborne Ranger combat engineer officer in the United States Army and is a professional engineer in North Carolina. He served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education representing District 5 in 2009 and was its chairman from 2009 to 2011. Davis also served as chair of the City of Charlotte Privatization/Competition Advisory Committee and the CMS Bond Oversight Committee. Davis was elected state board chairman in September 2018.  He served as the board’s vice chairman from April 2018 to September of 2018. He’s been on the board since 2015

Duncan is from Greensboro and represents the 5th educational district. Duncan is a lawyer for Turning Point Litigation. He is a past president of the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. He served a total of 18 years on the Guilford County Board of Education and 16 years as chairman. Cooper appointed Duncan to the board in 2018 to complete the term of Buddy Collins, who resigned.

McClain is from Fayetteville. McClain would represent the 4th educational district. She’s an assistant superintendent of Cumberland County Schools. In 2020, McClain was the North Carolina African American Leaders in Education Honoree. She served on the Governor’s Commission on Access to a Sound Basic Education and the NC Association of Principals and Assistant Principal Board of Directors.

Hargrave of Advance was nominated to serve as a member at-large. Hargrave served as superintendent of Scotland County Schools for six years. He also served as deputy superintendent, assistant superintendent for secondary education, executive director of student support services and middle school curriculum in the Iredell-Statesville School District. Hargrave is also a veteran, having achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class in the United States Army.

School calendar flexibility gets nod in House Education Committee

A flood of bills granting school districts calendar flexibility received favorable hearings Tuesday from the House Education K-12 Committee.

Districts want the flexibility to start the school year earlier, one wants to start as early as August 1, and to close later to address learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State law currently allows schools to start no earlier than the Monday closest to Aug. 26 and to end no later than the Friday closest to June 11. There are exceptions for some schools such as charter schools, year-round schools and low-performing schools.

Meanwhile, other schools want flexibility to align district calendars with community colleges calendars to aid high school students enrolled in college coursework.

House Bill 77 seeks calendar flexibility for Moore County Schools. It  would help the district to accommodate golf tournaments.

“What makes this different for Moore County is that we have major golf tournaments,” said Rep. James L. Boles, a Moore County Republican and bill cosponsor.

Moore County is home to the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club. The country club’s famous No.2 Course will host the U.S. Open in 2024.

School buses and parking lots are needed to host such events, Boles told the committee.

The school district usually receives exemptions every few years to accommodate major tournaments. HB 77 would give it permanent flexibility to adjust the calendar to adapt to them.

Support for the calendar bills was nearly unanimous. Rep. Frank Iler, a Brunswick County Republican, supports local calendar flexibility bills but voiced concern about those that apply statewide.

“Everyone is familiar with my attitude about the tourism industry and school calendar,” Iler said. “I think it should be labeled child abuse to send anybody back to school before Labor Day, and so, I’ll be abstaining or voting no on calendar bills.”

The state’s tourism industry has vigorously opposed allowing the school year to slip into months traditionally reserved for summer break. The N.C. Travel Industry Association wants families free during summer months to travel to state beaches, the mountains and attractions in between.

Louise Lee, founder and president of Save our Summers NC, a volunteer organization of parents, teachers and others who want to preserve a traditional school calendar, said lawmakers who spoke in favor of the calendar flexibility bills did so on behalf of superintendents and school boards.

“The piece that’s missing is who I’m representing; that is parents and teachers,” Lee said. “These people have been through enough this year without fighting once again just to preserve a somewhat traditional school calendar as a choice for families.”

Arguments to align school calendars to community college calendars and to set them up so students finish exams before winter breaks have been around for 17 years, Lee said.

“It is time to put these arguments to rest,” she said.

Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Forsyth County Republican, has filed a school calendar flexibility bill every year since 2013 when he began serving in the House.

“Those bills have never been heard,” Lambeth said.

He said the fact the bills received near-unanimous support in committee sends a message that the House supports allowing district officials to operate in a manner they believe is best for students.

Lambeth wants a list of schools operating on a traditional school calendar and one of the counties the bills will impact along with their school start and stop dates.

He also asked for a list of counties granted exceptions. Those include districts in the mountains that are allowed to start the school year early because they close frequently due to severe weather.

“I’d love to see all districts to give us a profile of where the state would look if we pass all of these bills through the House and Senate,” Lambeth said.