The most recent budget that I worked to help pass includes for North Carolina public school teachers an average 7 percent permanent pay raise – without requiring them to make a choice on whether to keep tenure. This $468 million increase would be the largest in state history and would boost North Carolina from 47th in overall teacher pay to the middle range of current national rankings and from 9th to 3rd in the Southeast, propelling the state ahead of Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina. The plan, which reforms and replaces the archaic 37-step system with an entirely new base pay scale, is designed to attract and keep the best teachers in the classroom. Below is a graph that breaks down the new system:
As you can see, this is a raise for ALL teachers, even those with longevity pay. The raises for teachers average out to 7 percent. It is also important to note that in addition to the 7 percent increase in starting salary for teachers, an additional 7 percent for entry level pay will be applied for the 2015-16 year. This means entry level teacher pay in NC will rise 14 percent, making this state a leader for the region.
Critics say that this plan is complicated and I hope that laying it out in exact terms here is helpful to those reading. Even level raises for both less experienced and more experienced teachers would have been easier to understand, but it would not be the best plan to improve public education in North Carolina. This is something that is explained well in an article by John Hood of the John Locke foundation.
This compromise marks a continuation of the commitment to education in North Carolina. Below is a graph that breaks down the funding for public schools since Republicans took control of the state government following the 2010 elections.
The graph above (click the graph for a bigger version) shows funding has steadily risen from the first Republican passed budget which was for the 2011-12 year. An increase in spending for our schools, and an increase in teacher salaries are clearly the right steps for improving our schools. With teacher pay that is a regional leader, this state will attract and retain the best young teachers.