Gov. Pat McCrory will emphasize meeting international education standards, building a qualified labor force and rewarding teachers with increased pay when he announces his proposals for education legislation in the coming weeks.
McCrory previewed his legislative agenda in a speech at the Hunt Institutes Holshouser Legislators Retreat on Monday night, though he did not provide specific policy plans.
McCrory repeatedly emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in approaching the issue of education, saying this is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, and praised former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt as a valued adviser.
Jim Hunt is a hero of mine, hes a mentor of mine, and the state has been so fortunate to have him in leadership in so many different ways, he said. From the day I came in office and was sworn in and then sworn at at times, hes been a great adviser to me.
McCrory and the GOP-led legislature have been criticized by Democrats, educators and others for measures that were seen as devaluing teachers such as phasing out tenure and ending pay increases for earning advanced degrees. But in recent months, McCrory has been talking about increasing teacher pay. He had raises for both teachers and state workers in his first budget, but the expenditures did not make it into the legislatures budget.
Some Democratic legislators in attendance were not surprised by the bipartisan tone of the governors speech.
The Hunt-Holshouser retreat is always very bipartisan, said Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat from Raleigh. I think everybody can get behind the idea of increasing teacher pay, but when you get to where the funds are going to come from, whether youre raising pay for all teachers or some teachers, I think thats where some of the partisan issues arrive.
McCrory said he and his education Cabinet will soon present specific proposals to the state legislature.
He made us feel that hes about to announce some type of teacher raise, said Rep. Duane Hall, a Democrat from Raleigh. His recommendations will be important. It will put through a small teacher raise. I would like to see it be more than the 1 to 1.5 percent increase theyre likely to propose.
In his speech, McCrory enumerated the State Board of Education goals of increasing the graduation rate, graduating students who are career-ready and college-ready, improving student performance on tests and ensuring that teachers are productive and well-prepared.
But Hall said he is skeptical that basing teacher pay on student test results will be an effective policy.
Everyone seems to think that maybe theres a way to do it, but no ones really come up with the numbers that theres a good way to do it, he said.