Christine Kushner: Giving Wake teachers what they deserve

March 7, 2014 

How can we choose only 25 percent when so many more deserve pay increases? On March 4, the Wake County Board of Education respectfully asked the N.C. General Assembly to repeal legislation requiring the board to offer only 25 percent of teachers new contracts with $500 salary increases annually until 2018.

More challenging standards and higher expectations have been placed on our teachers while their salaries have remained stagnant. The promise of master’s pay has been eliminated for those pursuing advanced degrees. And now, legislation requiring new teacher contracts disregards the experience, skill and leadership that experienced teachers demonstrate every day.

Requiring a school district such as Wake County to choose only 25 percent of teachers to receive a bonus of $2.32 a day before taxes is an arbitrary approach when you consider the caliber of our educators. Wake County teachers are the top in the state in effectiveness, with more than 91 percent of evaluated WCPSS teachers meeting or exceeding academic growth standards, according to the state’s new teacher effectiveness index. This is not surprising considering what we already know: Nearly half our teachers have master’s degrees. Eighty percent achieved ratings of proficient or higher on their most recent evaluations. Eighty-four percent meet the definition of Highly Qualified under No Child Left Behind.

As a district, WCPSS employs the highest number of educators in the country to earn National Board Certification. They are the best of the best – highly skilled professionals who develop capable and confident students.

Lawmakers require us to select just a quarter of them for pay increases when, in fact, many more deserve a substantial pay increase. These are North Carolina residents we want to keep teaching in North Carolina. We believe that bringing teachers together – not forcing divisive competition – is the way to improve our schools.

We applaud the General Assembly’s efforts to improve teacher pay, and we respectfully request that lawmakers reconsider this legislation and instead develop a compensation plan that is tied to career growth and pulls North Carolina teacher salaries up to the national average.

Christine Kushner

Chairman, WCPSS Board of Education, Raleigh

The letter was signed by all nine members of the board. The length limit was waived.

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