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NC Leaders Announce Plan to Raise Starting Teacher Pay; One Veteran Teacher: ‘Been Punched in the Gut’

Feb. 11, 2014. Governor Pat McCrory, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis announced on Monday a unified strategy to make North Carolina’s starting teacher salaries among the highest in the Southeast. This is the first step in their shared commitment to improve teacher and state employee salaries.

“There’s no greater investment we can make than in preparing our kids for the future, and there’s no question that high-quality teachers lead to better student achievement,” said McCrory, Forest, Berger and Tillis in a joint statement. “That’s why we are committed to boosting starting teacher pay to $35,000 over the next two years.”

“Making North Carolina a regional leader and nationally competitive will help us attract the very best talent to our schools and brand our state as a teaching destination, not a layover.”

The new plan, unveiled to teachers and students at Ragsdale High School, will increase starting teacher pay by $2,200 this year and by an additional $2,000 the following year. Funding for the proposed raises will come from additional and available revenues and will not require a tax increase.

Historically, North Carolina’s starting teacher pay has been noncompetitive. Under this new plan, teachers just beginning their careers will receive a more than 13 percent raise over the next two years, with starting salaries moving from the current base rate of $30,800 to $35,000.

“I am pleased to see our state’s leaders come together, focus on finding solutions and commit to reversing the long-time trend of noncompetitive salaries in the teaching profession,” said Liz Jones, an eighth grade science teacher and department chair at Roland Grise Middle School in New Hanover County. “This step will greatly improve our ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest to educate our students.”

The four state leaders also responded to feedback from educators by announcing plans to extend supplemental pay for teachers with master’s degrees to those who have completed coursework in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013.

State leaders intend to announce pay increases for more teachers and state employees as the revenue outlook becomes clearer and available.

  • Press Release from Gov. McCrory’s Office

 NC Teacher On Tillis Plan: ‘We Feel Like We’ve Been Punched In The Gut’

Tillis once said teachers “don’t care about kids. They don’t care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions.”

Feb. 11, 2014. After yesterday’s press conference on teacher pay, teachers are upset and editorial boards across the state are slamming Thom Tillis’ plan to give some teachers raises while leaving most teachers with a 0% pay increase. And who can blame them? It’s hard to have much confidence when Tillis made his priorities clear – making room in the budget for a tax plan to benefit the wealthiest that costs more than $500 million, but refusing to raise teacher pay and cutting education spending by nearly $500 million

A teacher featured in the Asheville Citizen-Times today explains:

“Teachers all around me are walking around today like someone died,” Roberson High School English teacher Lindsay Kosmala Furst said.

“We feel like we’ve been punched in the gut,” she said. “This is not what we wanted.”

That means Furst, who will start her ninth year of teaching in 2015, would make the same salary as a first-year teacher.

“It devalues experienced teachers,” Furst said. “By saying, ‘hold on, we’ll get back to you’ to veteran teachers, it won’t do anything to stem the exodus.” 

The Charlotte Observer calls the plan “a slap in the face” to veteran teachers who will receive no pay increase under the proposed plan and goes on to explain that “even Mississippi lawmakers came up with a fairer plan last week for teachers there.” The Greensboro News and Record says the plan “took one step forward but two steps back.

In 2011, Tillis explained that teachers “don’t care about kids. They don’t care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions.” And earlier this year, Tillis referred to opposition to his fringe agenda as “whining coming from losers.” 

As a contrast, when Kay wrote state budgets, she included teacher pay raises every year for a total average increase of 21%. 

teacher raises“When Kay wrote state budgets, she made teacher pay raises a priority, and included them every year for a total average increase of 21%,” said Sadie Weiner, Hagan Campaign Communications Director. “North Carolina teachers get to school early, work late, and dip into their own pockets for supplies, and those teachers – all of them – deserve a pay increase. Thom Tillis’ education record includes cutting spending by almost $500 million, berating teachers, and now insulting the longest-serving teachers, and he has made it clear he would rather help the special interests bankrolling his campaign over North Carolina’s teachers and families.”

  • From U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s Office