|NCAE's Response to Gov. McCrory's Press Conference on Teacher Pay Plan|
Today, Governor McCrory, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger unveiled a pay plan for teachers in their first years. NCAE is glad the governor and legislative leaders have finally recognized the need to increase the starting salary for all teachers in North Carolina’s public schools. This pay plan may help North Carolina’s ability to attract and recruit the best and brightest to work in our schools; however, without a comprehensive long-range salary compensation plan, there is very little incentive for any teacher to remain in the profession in our state. NCAE was not provided an advanced copy of the proposal, so we have not had an opportunity to fully review in detail all aspects of the proposed pay plan. However, we know that highly qualified teachers are critical and play a vital role in enhancing the educational progress of students. This pay plan still does not address the needs of our teachers, or their students.
Citizens all across the state are demanding higher salaries and more respect for our teachers, not just a small percentage of them. This plan sends a clear message that only one-fourth of teachers are valued. This pay plan does not offer an adequate pay plan for all teachers but only a few, and is another divisive attack on our profession. Our teachers deserve better. Our students deserve better. With the implementation of this plan, new teachers will make more than teachers with 10 years of experience. Again, we have not seen the plan. While this pay plan rewards newer teachers, it is disrespectful to veteran teachers, sends a clear message that students don’t deserve teachers who are experienced and committed to the teaching profession, and institutionalizes teacher turnover.
It is not just higher pay that keeps teachers in our classrooms, but a stable environment of highly qualified teacher leaders. Our veteran teachers are the institutional glue that holds our schools together. Without them, so many of our young teachers would not succeed or stay in the classroom, even if they are better paid. Any teacher pay plan must also include a proposal to begin repaying teachers for salaries not received for the accompanying experience pay steps earned the past five years. This contractual obligation may not be fulfilled in one budget cycle, but a “down payment” must be paid to ALL teachers during the coming short session, which begins in May. NCAE recommends that the money set aside to fund the divisive 25 percent contract bonus pay plan be utilized to help in paying teachers for steps already earned.
The latest available rankings data shows the average salary for teachers in North Carolina is 46th in the nation and 11th out of the 12 southeastern states. A newly released report from NEA states when it comes to beginning teacher salaries, our state ranks 49th out of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia), and is last (12th out of the 12), among all the southeastern states.
Over the last several decades, NCAE has worked closely with governors and legislative leadership to develop and improve teacher compensation that led to our goal of reaching the national average. The Association is committed to reaching this goal again so all teachers can receive a professionally based salary. We will continue to reach out to the governor, and leadership in the House and Senate, to work for increased professional compensation for all educators. We are also committed to meeting and working with the governor and lawmakers to develop a long range comprehensive salary compensation plan that will not only attract, but retain the best and brightest to work in North Carolina’s schools. This proposed pay plan is only a start in addressing a comprehensive plan that helps ensure improvements are made in student achievement, student outcomes, and success.
NCAE feels strongly that by investing in paying teachers better, the state is making an important investment in public education, because our public schools depend on our success in attracting and retaining the very best educators.