Letters to the Editor

State Superintendent’s comments on teacher pay spark responses

N.C. Secretary of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.
N.C. Secretary of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. cseward@newsobserver.com

Improve teacher pay

Regarding “School chief’s salary comment fuels debate” (Jan. 28): teaching is at the bottom of the scale, when the starting salary is compared to that of other professions. As WakeEd reported last year, North Carolina needs to invest more in teacher salaries.

Teaching requires a four-year degree, pre-service practicum, qualifying exams, periodic license renewal, and continuing education. By comparison, a radiologic technologist, a profession requiring a two-year degree and a pre-service practicum, starts at $44,000 when adjusted for a 10-month work year. This comparison is only meant to show that teachers must attain an elevated level of entry qualifications which, in other professions, leads to higher entry level pay.

It’s also important to consider how long it would take an employee in these comparable professions to move up their respective pay scales. For teachers, it takes more than 20 years to earn $50,000 in North Carolina. Other professions also increase base salary for additional education; for example, a registered nurse who earns a master’s degree. Increased pay for teachers who earn a master’s degree was eliminated by the General Assembly in 2013. Recent improvements to base teaching pay by the General Assembly are very much appreciated.

Our state, however, needs to continue to increase base pay for beginning teachers, shorten the time it takes for teachers to earn at or above the national average, and improve the top end of the teacher scale to honor the expertise and commitment of veteran teachers.

C. Steve Parrott

President, WakeEd Partnership

Work with Johnson

Regarding “State teachers’ group snubs NC schools chief” (Jan. 30): The NC Association of Educators is taking the wrong approach not including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson in its annual meeting. While I understand their agitation with him, it is not productive to accommodate their frustration. A better approach is to involve the superintendent in ways that provide him reliable knowledge and valid information about public education issues that he does not understand or has no leadership experience upon which to rely.

Also, while Johnson prefers to work i behind the scenes, we need to help him be a more visible leader for public education. No, a $35,000 salary for any public school teacher is not “good money” considering the immense responsibility and often challenging conditions. It was a particularly unfortunate comment in light of his $127,561 salary and his lack of qualifications for the job he holds.

Nevertheless, teachers and other informed education leaders need to work with him to create the right drivers for improvement rather than the fragmented, simplistic and politically expedient solutions recently foisted on the schools of North Carolina.

Andy Overstreet


Good teachers needed

Regarding “School chief’s salary comment fuels debate” (Jan. 28): It’s been interesting to read the recent discussions about our Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson, and his claim that $35,000 is sufficient for a starting teacher’s salary. I’m curious to know how he handled his teachers salary for the two years he was actually in the classroom. I suspect he’s much happier with his generous six-figure salary he presently enjoys.

Perhaps he should sit down and have a chat with Keith Poston, the president and executive director of the Public School Forum of NC. We need good teachers – good teachers need good pay. Aren’t our children worth it?

Sally Wenda


End bonus pay, give tax breaks

No government employee, including teachers, should ever receive a bonus for doing their job. If our leaders are that out of touch with reality then they also need to move on. If you think a bonus program is right just look in the private sector. Most any CEO can get high bonus pay while running the company into the ground.

If the government has that kind of money from taxpayers, they should be cutting our taxes since they have money to throw away. Our state government has, in both parties, must be trying to get a corruption award with tricks such as bonus programs to essentially buy votes.

Ron Driver