Still not enough
“NC teachers’ salaries now averaging more than $50,000 a year” (Mar. 5) touts that teacher annual salaries in NC now average more than $50,000. Will this engender pride in our citizens that they are doing the right thing for teachers? Will talented young people be flocking again to our UNC institutions for their teacher preparation? More notably, will talented mathematics and science students want to pursue teaching careers here? Will our teachers be able to eschew food stamps, CHIP and Medicaid for family members with this paltry increase?
All of these issues seems unlikely given that our Wake teachers are approximately in the bottom third of all household wage earners in the County.
Sarah Burke Berenson
Professor Emeritus, Mathematics Education
University of North Carolina Greensboro
Work on education
Regarding “Why North Carolina thinks $200 per K-3 teacher will help all kids learn to read” (Mar. 8): As a parent and elementary educator, $200 is frankly pretty much nothing. Using your numbers, $200 spread over the number of kids in an average K-3 classroom works out to just over $9 a kid – let’s all celebrate.
North Carolina, once a shining beacon in education, now ranks 40th. There’s a bunch of things in the way of educating our children and $9 a kid is not going to fix it. When will those that have chosen to govern and steer the populace actually take their duties as stewards seriously? It seems not through this effort.
Legislators should try to remember, those children they are throwing crumbs at will be the adults taking care of them sooner than they think. It is not only their future at stake, it’s yours and all those you love and might actually care about. We can’t build a wall high enough to keep out the undereducated – they are already among us.
‘Average’ not what it seems
A recent News & Observer story was headlined “NC teachers’ salaries now averaging more than $50,000 a year” (Mar. 5). But the pay is not what it appears to be. That average salary is being bolstered by the very people that the General Assembly wants to rid the state of: veteran teachers with due-process rights.
The story states: “The average teacher salary has risen 12 percent over the past five years, from $45,737 a year. Since taking control of the state legislature in 2011, Republicans raised the starting base salary for new teachers to $35,000 and gave raises to other teachers.” The operative word here is “average.” What GOP stalwarts purposefully fail to tell you is that most of the raises have occurred at the very low rungs of the salary schedule.
Of course, you can raise the salary of first-year teachers by a few thousand dollars and it would give them an average raise of maybe 10-15 percent. How can the average pay in NC be over $50,000 when no teachers can really make much over $50,000 in their entire careers unless they all become nationally certified?
Easy. North Carolina is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. Remember the word “average” is a very easy word to manipulate. Politicians use it well. In this case, the teachers who are driving the “average” salary up are the very people that the state wants to not have in a few years. There will then be a new average.
It can’t possibly be over $50K then if current trends keep going.
Stuart A. Egan
Regarding “NC teachers’ salaries now averaging more than $50,000 a year” (Mar. 5): it is welcome news that teacher salaries have reached the $50,000 average benchmark thanks to increases in recent years by the General Assembly and local funders like the Wake County Board of Commissioners. This will hopefully lead to an increased rank among average state salaries, and get our state closer to the national average teaching salary.
That said, our state must not rely too heavily on rank and averages benchmarks because they do not properly value the minimum entry requirements and expertise gained on the job of the teaching profession. To adequately assess and develop a comprehensive pay scale, North Carolina should instead compare the professional requirements of teaching to similar requirements of other professions.
For example, teachers must earn a four-year degree that includes a pre-service practicum, and they must pass multiple nationally normed tests just to obtain a license. Once hired, they must complete a three-year monitored residency program that includes regular meetings with a teacher-mentor and observations by an administrator four times a year. After residency, teachers must participate in annual continuing education to earn credits to renew their licenses every five years.
When looked at in those terms, teaching salaries are woefully undervalued. Entry-level pay has increased in recent years to $35,000, but top-level pay hasn’t, and it takes too many years to reach that top level of $50,000, an increase of just $15,000. This is unacceptable for a profession with so many minimum and continuing standards for employment.
Vice President of Policy and Research