State lawmakers need to step up on teacher pay, offering more than modest raises that won’t stem a coming teacher shortage in a state that still ranks poorly compared to the national average and salaries in other states where pay is much, much higher.
If they do step up, they’ll be following Wake County commissioners, who admirably say they support increasing the county’s funding for teacher supplements.
The Wake school board has as one of its announced priorities bringing its teachers’ pay to the national average of $56,000. To do that would cost $100 million, a prohibitive figure for the county to provide on its own, but could achieve incrementally with the state’s help. Currently, the average pay for Wake teachers in $49,798. The state average is $47,783.
And, it should not have to do so. Even though Republican lawmakers came across with good salary boosts for early career teachers, the state lags overall. The National Education Association now ranks North Carolina 42nd in average pay,
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It’s ignoring reality to think that with increases here and there – Gov. McCrory would raise beginning teachers to $35,000 in his proposed budget – the state can attract teaching talent. Reality is going to hit, and this state is going to be in for a serious shortage of teachers in public schools.
Wake Superintendent Jim Merrill told commissioners that if experienced teachers are expecting a raise from the state, they’re likely going to be out of luck.
After a push by former Gov. Jim Hunt to get teacher salaries to the national average, the state has fallen woefully behind. And despite all the Republican rhetoric about vouchers for private schools (funded by public money) and charter schools (which are, by the way, public schools) the truth is that most North Carolinians send their children to conventional public schools.
So there will be plenty of kids in those schools for a long time to come. But will there be teachers there to meet them?