Education

An NC teacher posts his paycheck on Facebook. But did he make his point?

Stokes County English teacher Nick Brandes' take-home pay is $1,715.81 per month, after taxes, his daughter's insurance and childcare, he said.

Brandes, who has been teaching for 10 years, he said, posted his paycheck, dated April 30, on Facebook May 10. On Facebook, Brandes identifies himself as "Nick Cols."

He said he wanted to show how little educators in his state are compensated for the important work they do, even when they love their jobs, schools and students.

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"I was hesitant to share this because it’s personal information but I’m at the point where some people just need to see the truth of my life, that I lead, as a 32 year old married father of one," Brandes wrote.

Brandes said that comes out to $53 per day.

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"I’m not a math wizard ... but when you divide that, I want you to know that I am roughly being paid $53 a day to educate your child," Brandes wrote. "If you divide that by 8 hours, the amount a great deal of people think I work which in actual reality is nowhere near the amount I work, I will be making $6.69 an hour. In my state, NC, the minimum wage is currently $7.70."

Brandes counted every day of the month in his daily pay estimate.

If you account for all 21 Monday through Friday working days in April, Brandes' pay comes out closer to about $81.70 per day.

A North Carolina teacher with 10 years of experience makes about $40,550 per year before taxes, according to state salary data. A Stokes County teacher also receives a county supplement, about 4 percent of their annual pay, according to the school system. That would mean a teacher with Brandes' level of experience makes about $42,172 per year before taxes.

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Brandes outlined high costs he's incurred recently — a broken air conditioner, a daughter with a broken arm.

"We call this life," he wrote. "And it happens to everyone. The difference is that I am working a job that most see as a valuable resource of utmost importance, and I cannot pay for anything. My wife is also a teacher and is in the same boat."

Educators are hurting, Brandes said, some with second and third jobs. And while some teachers will take off May 16 to attend the "March for Students and Rally for Respect" event in Raleigh, Brandes said he can't afford to participate.

Taking that day off would reduce his check "by an additional $75 dollars," he said.

Brandes said he knows some people will mention that he gets summers off.

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"I do," he wrote. "I get two weeks vacation here and a week there. I do. All of that is true. I, however, do not get paid for those days."

According to the Stokes County School System website, teachers are part of the North Carolina retirement system plan, with an employer contribution of 17.3 percent and an employee contribution of 6 percent. They are eligible for medical, dental, vision, worker's compensation, disability and life insurance plans.

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Teachers earn one day per month of sick leave, 0.2 days per month of personal leave and 1.17 to 2.17 days of annual vacation leave per month, depending on level of experience.

"I want you to see what the people who are educating your children are being paid. The people who are writing letters of recommendation. The people who are giving them the tools to achieve things that most never thought possible. The people who give themselves daily to wide swaths of kids. The people who love your child regardless of their age, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or any other difference under the sun. The people who are there, caring, day in and day out, who love, LOVE, what they do, and who they do it for," Brandes wrote.

"And if you can believe that and look at the snapshot of my paycheck and not become infuriated that those of us who offer so much of ourselves for your children are being paid next to nothing, than we have already lost the battle."

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