Houston thinks NC has a problem with teacher salaries

Posted May 27, 2014
Updated May 30, 2014

— The largest school district is Texas is looking to poach some teachers from North Carolina, where low teacher pay has become a growing concern among educators and state leaders.

The Houston Independent School District plans to hold a job fair Saturday at the Doubletree Brownstone Hotel on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. A newspaper classified ad promoting the event notes the district pays a $46,805 starting salary, which is about 33 percent higher than the starting salary for a Wake County teacher.

"I saw that ad, and I said, 'Wow!'" John Hayden, dean of students at Apex High School, said Tuesday.

The cost of living in Houston is also higher than Raleigh, according to figures compiled by Numbeo, a user-fed database about cities and countries worldwide. Rent and overall consumer prices are 32 percent lower in Raleigh, according to the website.

With 18 years in the Wake County Public School System, Hayden said he's not going anywhere. But he fears some of his faculty might make the move, noting that his school already has a 10 percent annual turnover rate for teachers.

"If I'm a younger person looking at that, I'm at least going to go talk to them," he said. "They're going to get some people."

The Wake County Public School System already needs to fill about 1,500 teaching positions for 2014-15, and Board of Education Chairwoman Christine Kushner said she is concerned that out-of-state districts might aggravate that need by attracting some of the area's better teachers.

"It serves as further evidence as to why we need some help with teacher salaries," Kushner said.

The school board requested an extra $39 million from Wake County for the coming year to provide a 3.5 percent raise for all teachers and school staff, but Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann didn't include any money for raises in his proposed budget. He said he wants to see how state lawmakers address the issue of teacher salaries before the county makes any financial commitment.

Gov. Pat McCrory has included an average 2 percent increase for most teachers in his 2014-15 budget proposal, and legislative leaders have vowed to make teacher pay raises a priority as they craft the upcoming budget. McCrory and lawmakers also are backing a package that would raise the starting salary of teachers in North Carolina to $35,000 within two years.

Phil Matthews, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, said he questioned the legitimacy of the classified ad promoting the Houston job fair.

"We don't want our teachers to go anywhere else. It's odd that Houston would pick Raleigh out of any city in the U.S. Sounds a bit suspicious," Matthews said.

Houston Superintendent Terry Grier is the former superintendent of Guilford County Schools and is well-acquainted with the long-running debate over North Carolina teacher salaries, which rank 46th nationwide.

Hayden called the repeated legislative promises of higher teacher salaries "lip service" and said North Carolina will continue to lose quality teachers from its classrooms until action is taken.

"Are we seriously trying to get the best people to be in these classrooms?" he asked. "As a community, are we really doing it? We're not doing it."


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  • Benjamin Kite May 30, 2014
    user avatar

    The article does a disservice to readers by not clearly documenting precisely what the starting salary of a Wake County teacher actually is. The figure of a 20% difference does not seem accurate.

  • jdurr81471 May 28, 2014


    That's really helpful.

  • WralCensorsAreBias May 28, 2014

    Can't please them no matter what you do.

    Fire them all.

  • jdurr81471 May 28, 2014

    It's never as simple as just leave. You may have a husband/wife who has a career here, you might own a house, you may kids in school or aging parents. You may have enough years invested in retirement that leaving would be detrimental at this point. You may have actually invested in the community and in education and don't want to flush it down the toilet. You actually may want to fight for what is right. Most of us did not start in education thinkning that this is what we would be getting. When I started 17 years ago, there was no talk of losing "tenure," or not getting my steps or a small raise each year. I also did not have this level of bureaucracy, disrespect from parents and students. I felt safe going into work. I didn't expect to be rich, but middle class would be nice. So, yes. I am unhappy with the pay, but I will fight to make things better for both students and educators.

  • mike275132 May 28, 2014


    If you are unhappy with your NC Teachers salary move to somewhere that pays more.

    Like Houston, Detroit or Washington DC school systems.

  • lost in translation May 28, 2014

    I dont understand why so many people are pointing the finger at others in this discussion. You have an individual choice in life to go to school, pick a field that interests you, pursue your dreams and career. Those who choose education understood about bad administrative policies, understood the pay, and understood the commitment and rewards just like those who choose to go into law, medicine or engineering. Why is this individual choice now someone else's responsibility and problem? Don't like the pay…leave. Don't like the policies…leave. Your choice, your bed, your decision. You were made well aware prior to taking your first course in education that your pay would not be in concert with your dreams. I believe you could say this about any teaching position in the 50 States unless you were in the top 5% at a private school and paid for your achievements in a risk/reward setting. Stop complaining about a known issue and resolve to make it better with this administration.

  • James McFetridge May 28, 2014
    user avatar

    Let the facts speak for themselves.

  • Rod Runner May 28, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    And sales tax is 8.25 %.

  • Rod Runner May 28, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Life expectancy of a cop was 6 months? That's BS. If that were true, that would have been all over the news as cops would have been dying all the time.

    It looks like you mean that they had a cop killed in the line of duty every 6 months. That is no where near the life expectancy being 6 months. That would mean they only had 1 cop on the force for the life expectancy to be 6 months.

  • psrodrigue May 28, 2014

    The cost of living is cheaper than here, I lived there for 5 years and I've done the math. I've also lived/experienced the school system in Florida and Nebraska...Nebraska was by far the best out of all. Parents DO NOT have to purchase school supplies either! NC schools used to be top notch, now they are the laughing stock of the nation - when will NC cease to be the punch line?