Cooper outlines plan to raise NC teacher pay to national average

Posted February 20
Updated February 21

— Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday that his proposed budget will include 5 percent raises for public school teachers in each of the next two years and laid out a plan to bring teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average within five years.

"These aren’t just investments in our teachers. They are lasting investments in our economy and in our own children’s future," Cooper said at an event at Collinswood Language Academy in Charlotte. "Education is part of North Carolina’s legacy, but recently we’ve fallen behind. My proposal is a serious, multi-year increase in teacher salaries that will get us to the national average so we can show our teachers the respect they deserve."

North Carolina currently ranks 41st nationally in average teacher salary.

The budget proposal also would give teachers an extra $150 a year to offset out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies, Cooper said.

Republican legislative leaders quickly jumped on the proposal, saying the governor was backing their efforts in recent years to increase teacher pay.

"Republicans have made bold and historic commitments to raising teacher pay in North Carolina since 2014, so we're excited Gov. Cooper wants to join us in that effort," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement. "Republicans raised teacher pay while cutting taxes and providing relief to hard-working North Carolinians, so we hope the details of Gov. Cooper’s proposal will mirror our successful approach."

"After he opposed recent Republican budgets that increased average teacher pay by 15.5 percent, we are pleased Roy Cooper has finally joined legislative efforts to undo the damage of years of Democratic teacher furloughs and teacher pay freezes. We look forward to reviewing his complete budget proposal," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a statement.

Cooper didn't spell out how he plans to pay for the raises, noting in a fact sheet only that his proposed budget doesn't include tax increases for the $813 million investment.

Teacher pay has been a political football for several years, with Democrats and Republicans blaming each other for North Carolina's decline in average salary and claiming credit for any increases in spending. The one thing both sides have agreed on is a willingness to put more money in state classrooms.

"Governor Cooper’s two-year teacher pay proposal is a significant step toward restoring respect back to the profession and making North Carolina a teacher destination state once again," Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said in a statement. "It also does not leave out our most experienced educators, which has been the case in recent years. The most valuable resource a student can have to help them be successful is a qualified, caring teacher in front of the class."


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  • Michael Bawden Feb 21, 3:43 p.m.
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    Nice try, but you liberals are famous for blaming one line of the budget to use as campaign fodder against Republicans. Perdue wanted more money for schools. Only item she addressed according to WRAL.. Because of that she vetoed the teacher raises. Cooper did not do much for teachers while he was there.

  • Kyle Clarkson Feb 21, 2:59 p.m.
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    Yes, state employees have to buy their own office supplies at times. Yes, state employees work more than 40 hrs a week at times, and with no summer break. State vehicles are used for job related work. State employees are charged with a variety of extremely important jobs and duties. Highway and bridge safety inspections, law enforcement, data security, medical services, health services for disabled, etc.

  • Xena Lucia Feb 21, 2:17 p.m.
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    Anyone who has never worked as a teacher has no right to dispute their right to decent pay. These people are educating the next generation, who will work the jobs to pay taxes, who will vote/ take part in our government and shape our society as a whole. Why would you NOT want the best people to educate our children and help them reach their best potential? You're certainly NOT going to draw in the cream of the crop paying them peanuts. And those who serve as teachers because it's their passion, regardless of the low pay, are expected to buy supplies with their own money. I dare you to take on a class full of 25+ students for 6+ hours per day, be held to crazy high performance standards with no external support to help the kids get to where they need to be academically. Pretty sure no one against teachers getting a pay raise would be able to do the job they do. And while we're at it, where does all the money from the "NC Education Lottery" go? Not to teachers, that's for sure.

  • William Sherman Feb 21, 12:10 p.m.
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    Well, there goes the $550. million surplus McCrory managed to build up for the state---

  • Matt Wood Feb 21, 10:24 a.m.
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    Cooper hasn't been in the legislature since before 2000. And you completely ignore the myriad other reasons that Perdue vetoed that budget (hint: it wasn't because of teacher pay).

  • Michael Bawden Feb 21, 8:46 a.m.
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    Where was this outline when Cooper was in the NC legislature. Go to NCAE website and search for 10 year salary history. Brings up 2003-2013. Note who was in charge in BOTH houses for the first time in 100 years in 2013. The democrat Bev Perdue VETOED that budget with the teacher pay increase. The veto was overridden.
    WRAL is the "enemy of the teachers" when it reports on democrats(Cooper) fighting for teacher pay increases.
    Headline should have been "Cooper agrees with Republicans on raising teacher salaries".

  • Patrick Morningstar Feb 21, 7:35 a.m.
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    The cuts were to get our budget back in the black after years of overspending by the democrats. I'm sure old Roy will keep his promises and not raise taxes, be the hero of the teachers, and put our state back in debt. My wife's a teacher and i honestly don't believe they are under paid.

  • Brent Hall Feb 21, 7:11 a.m.
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    What about other state employees receiving some form of most-needed compensation increase?? We have to buy our own office supplies because the legislature supposedly didn't budget enough funds to cover that essential item.

  • Henry White Feb 21, 6:13 a.m.
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    How about the pay of all the other state employees

  • Dolly Butler Feb 20, 7:14 p.m.
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    Maybe bring back some of those CUTS by the Republicans the past 2 years so we have money for Teachers the way we were supposed to ..Have you seen any jobs from those cuts? I haven't...if you have, please post those companies and the jobs created at each company on this site