"On the Record" regarding teacher pay

Posted January 26, 2014

— Gov. Pat McCrory has said that raising teachers' salaries will be a priority during his second year in office, but there are big questions about how. 

An across the board 1 percent pay hike for all state employees and teachers would cost about $160 million. Just raising teacher salaries by 1 percent would cost $50 million per year, according to estimates by legislative staffers. 

"We've under-invested in our teachers. This is a long-term issue," Eric Guckian, McCrory's senior education policy adviser, said on this week's episode of "On the Record." Guckian and N.C. Association of Educators President Rodney Ellis spoke with reporters Laura Leslie and Mark Binker about the fact teachers have had only one pay raise in the past six years. "We recognize that whatever we get done in 2014 is not going to make up for the shortfall that we have. This has got to be a long-term solution."

Lawmakers have said they back an increase but not if it requires increasing taxes.

In order to get the most out of whatever money is available for a pay increase, McCrory has talked about raising the salaries of early-career teachers as well as those teaching in particular subject areas, such as science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, subject areas. 

"We have to begin with an across the board raise before we begin talking about how you compensate teachers for working in STEM," Ellis said.  He said the state should focus on raising teacher salaries to where they would have been if they hadn't been frozen before differentiating pay for certain teachers.

Guckian said that the $30,800 starting salary for teachers is one of the biggest complaints he has heard when talking to teachers and one place the governor wants to focus in terms of a pay raise.

"The biggest issue, we think, and the biggest pain point is in that starting salary," Guckian said. "We've got to make choices around fiscal responsibility and that's why we're really going to focus on those first 10 years, particularly getting that base pay up....We want to raise the floor and then we'll raise the ceiling."

Also during this week's On the Record: 

  • If teacher salaries do go up, what should be the target? Many people, such as former Gov. Jim Hunt, have encourage lawmakers to aim at the national average. Not everyone agrees. "The idea of a national average is very compelling, and everybody wants to see a ranking," Guckian said. "I think, though, when you look at cost of living – I'm originally from Rhode Island, and Rhode Island is among the top 10 in their investment in teachers. But ... it's much more expensive to live in a place like Rhode Island, New York City, (Washington) D.C. And when you compare those things, I think it's apples and oranges."  
  • Guckian said he would not favor a much-talked-about 60-30-10 plan that would limit salaries and how much time a teacher would spend in the profession. "We want the teaching profession to be a destination and a career, not a layover," Guckian said. 
  • Both Guckian and Ellis said public schools needed more flexibility in how they teach students. Both men said the state's current testing regimen limited how much public schools could pursue innovation. "We are testing our children to death," Ellis said, "It is one of the things keeping us from being flexible in our classrooms." 

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  • ALECarolina Jan 29, 2014

    FYI, I DO own a business, and I'm the CEO......we create and sell software to law enforcement agencies that identifies the IP addresses of people on comment boards like this one......just in case they threaten or otherwise seem dangerous or unstable........and business is BOOMIN'.

  • notexactly Jan 29, 2014


    Hope you never own your own business and become the CEO!! I am sure you would not like someone telling you what you should or shouldn't make.

  • notexactly Jan 29, 2014

    I know a CEO of a hospital and he makes about 8 times the average worker. Not including doctors. I am sure there are many CEOs making more than that but doubtful they are many making 300 to 500 times the average worker.

  • ALECarolina Jan 29, 2014

    Welcome to "ALEC NCGOP Cavalcade Of Ob-Fu"!!
    According to these jokers, we MUST pay business executives salaries 300-500 times what the average worker makes, "so we can attract the best and brightest".....but this rule doesn't apply to even paying our teachers the national average!

    These alternate-reality scoundrels have the audacity to wrap themselves in the flag while looting and plundering our government to destruction, so they can privatize and profit while complaining about "how broken our government is".

    Fascism only works when the rich corporate "people" have more power than the majority of voters.....ever wonder why the NCGOP keeps insisting that voter fraud is rampant in NC......but THEY won the last election? No mystery why these clowns want to destroy education......it cuts down on voters with critical thinking skills, and keeps them in power.

  • damauro Jan 28, 2014

    Just thinking about all those who want teachers to be paid like the rest of the world, and how great it would be if it were so. Paid overtime!

    Just thinking that some think all state employees should get the same boost as teachers. I wonder how many of them take their work home at the end of the day or week because there wasn't enough time to complete the work during the regular work days.

    Just wondering how it was possible for an acquaintance of mine who worked with the state to receive a bonus while the state was crying poor with regards to teacher pay.

    Just wondering how the state got away with posting step increases online long after step increases disappeared. If I posted something online, nice or not, I would be held accountable for it long after I changed my mind.

  • earnyourownway Jan 28, 2014

    $30,800 plus benefit's at 22 or 23 years old. i know it's not get rich money, but that's not as bad as everyone seems to make it out to be. read on wral average salary for n.c. teacher is $45,000. if that is correct, that means you can possibly make about $60,000 a year and quit in 30 years with all the benefits. i don't see where that is so bad. average n.c. household income is $46,500. two married n.c. teachers are well above the average.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 28, 2014

    I expect Republicans to be very much in favor of paying teachers more, since they expect better performance. It's the same argument they use when justifying the outrageous CEO salaries...that you need to pay to get results.

    So, why don't they do it?

    Why do they fight so hard to keep teachers poor?

    Is it because they want public schools to fail, so they can point their fingers and say "See! We told you that gov't doesn't work!" ? Or, do they think that education is just for liberals? Why don’t we pay teachers like medical doctors?...why don’t we adjust our priorities, so everyone is as educated as much they possibly can be? Wouldn’t society be much better off? Wouldn’t we have the answers to so many of our current problems if we had twice as many educated people?

    To thinking creatures, what has a higher priority than education?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jan 28, 2014

    Teachers are whiners! NC has at least 2 or, even, 3 positions to go...before we're at the absolute bottom of teacher pay in the U.S. (sarcasm)

  • sinew1 Jan 28, 2014

    Lawmakers support an increase, but not if it requires tax increase....what?!?!
    But it' okay for tax payers to foot the 500-600 million dollars to implement common core over the next seven years, but won't support tax increase for teacher raises. C'mon people.

  • damauro Jan 28, 2014

    Maybe it is time to simply change how NC spends its education dollars. Does anyone know how much money in NC gets siphoned from the tax pot to pay for standardized testing, online report card services, and technology items of questionable value (smartboards), or computers that require regular replacement? How much money is spent by kingdom building counties who duplicate efforts that might be better put towards a streamlined, unified state effort, eliminating jobs and freeing up money for teacher pay. How much money goes to pay for typical school administrators, usually inept ex teachers who are highly unqualified to manage as shown by their efforts to lead through micromanagement, browbeating, and morale killing. Put those loads out, and give the money they were collecting to the teachers who are the ones doing the heavy lifting.