Gov. Pat McCrory pushed for bridging gaps between the teaching community and the private sector Wednesday in remarks to a business group.
McCrory attended the annual meeting of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE). During a Q&A with Albert Eckel, vice-chairman of the NCBCE board, McCrory said the state should pay educators more and businesses should hire them while school is out.
“We need more university professors to frankly see the private sector environment because I think a lot of them have no idea where money comes from in the private sector,” McCrory said.
“I’ve made a challenge to the business community to hire teachers and professors during the offseason of teaching to help them understand the working environment in the private sector, and then they can bring that knowledge back to the classroom,” he told reporters after the event. “It’s a win-win both for teachers and in the private sector.”
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McCrory wants to increase average teacher pay to $50,000 a year. North Carolina has been rising in rankings of states on teacher pay but remains near the bottom, with classroom teachers earning about $10,000 less than the national average, according to National Education Association statistics.
The Republican governor said there is backing in the legislature for raises. The question, he said, is “not just the amount of teacher pay increase but how to best distribute that money to teachers throughout North Carolina.”
McCrory wants to treat teachers differently based on factors that include responsibilities and demand for certain specialties.
“That means not all teachers are paid the same, and some in the teaching profession will say that’s not fair,” he said. “There’s just disagreement on how teacher pay should be distributed.”
McCrory proposes creating a promotion system for teachers so they can assume greater responsibility without having to take on administrative roles. He argued some teachers deserve a higher salary than principals.
“The only way a teacher could get promoted right now in North Carolina is basically become a principal or administrator,” McCrory said. “Some teachers might not want to do that and we might not want them to leave teaching because we need them more as a teacher.”
McCrory also said greater emphasis should be placed on math and science over other fields.
“I’ll do something controversial,” he said. “We have an overabundance of lawyers right now in not only North Carolina but the United States … Nothing against lawyers, but we have too many lawyers graduating right now. Any law firm will tell you that. So why are we graduating as many law students when the volume ... is not needed in the marketplace?”