The question comes up now and then in the turbulent and troubled administration of Gov. Pat McCrory: What’s going on here?
In the last legislative session, Republican legislative leaders made sport of bashing public school teachers, largely motivated by the fact that some teachers had dared to criticize GOP cuts to public education. McCrory did virtually nothing to stop the criticism.
But now, as if awaking from a dream in which a for-real education governor, Jim Hunt, had visited him like the Ghost of Christmas Past, McCrory says he’s going to fight for a pay raise for teachers.
The governor noted that teacher pay in North Carolina is near the bottom of national rankings and that teachers haven’t had a raise in five years. So he’s going to be their champion.
Pardon this skepticism, but the governor surely remembers that any idea he has must pass muster with GOP lawmakers, and to them, he has been the Rodney Dangerfield of chief executives: He can’t get no respect. Even with the governor and the first lady, Ann McCrory, pushing a bill last session to curb “puppy mills,” the state Senate stopped it cold.
The governor better have the votes lined up before he comes out with an idea or a specific figure. What seems likely is that McCrory will propose a 5 percent raise and that legislative leaders like Sen. Phil Berger, the Senate’s president pro tem and teacher-basher-in-chief, will cut the figure. End result: Teachers get a pittance.
A better idea comes from Hunt, who has proposed getting teacher pay again to the national average (he did it once) by pledging to do it, setting aside the money over several years and then keeping the promise. That’s truly a help for teachers instead of a paltry one-time raise.
Will McCrory, who has seemed timid next to his fellow Republicans in the legislature, have the gumption to do it? We shall see.