McCrory calls for fewer tests, extra teacher pay

Posted August 1, 2013
Updated August 2, 2013

Gov. Pat McCrory discusses education initiatives at an Aug. 1, 2013, conference hosted by the N.C. Chamber.

— Days after a crowd of angry educators marched on the State Capitol to protest changes to public school spending in the state budget, Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday proposed a fund to reward "master teachers" and cutting the number of standardized tests required in North Carolina classrooms.

Speaking at the North Carolina Chamber's annual education conference in Chapel Hill, McCrory said business owners repeatedly tell him that they cannot find qualified employees for their job openings. The state needs to do more to prepare students for the workforce, he said.

"When employers are begging for qualified applicants in a state with the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation ... that tells me we have a disconnect between commerce and education," he said. "All of us need to come together and eliminate this gap."

McCrory said he wants to create a $30 million Education Innovation Fund with federal Race to the Top grant money to pay for digital classroom initiatives and trailblazing schools and to reward teachers. Under the program, at least 1,000 teachers selected by their peers statewide would receive $10,000 stipends to implement career- and college-ready standards.

"These master teachers will be working and taking input from their colleagues and will serve as a direct conduit to North Carolina's educational leaders as to what's working in our classrooms and what isn't working and what should be tossed aside," he said. "(These) teachers will not only be teaching students, they will be schooling us in the most important subject in education – what works actually in the classroom."

Calling the state's pay scale for teachers "archaic," he said the stipends would begin the shift toward rewarding classroom expertise and provide recognition for North Carolina's top teachers.

The governor also called for cutting "ineffective and burdensome testing" in North Carolina classrooms. The number of mandatory exams in Mecklenburg County, for example, is approaching 200 per year in grades 4-12, he said.

"Sometimes the state and government bureaucracy just needs to get out of their way and let them teach," he said. "When do teachers teach if all they're doing is giving tests?"

McCrory said testing should measure the "real-world skills" of students, contribute to instruction and not be repetitive.

"We do need some tests," he said, "but you will see me fighting for only effective testing that measures a student's knowledge, not just their memory skills."

Outside the Sheraton of Chapel Hill hotel, dozens of teachers and education advocates chanted and waved signs in protest.

Danial Nijhout-Rowe, a teacher at Durham High School, was among them. She said teachers have heard plenty of promises and proposals over the years.

“I think it becomes this background noise at some point,” she said.

Teri Stern says it was better for her to become a substitute instead of teaching full time.

“The paperwork, the amount of money they pay out of their own pocket to fund their classroom – I can’t do that,” she said.

McCrory's appearance comes less than a week after he signed a $20.6 billion budget that includes $10 million in 2014-15 to allow children from some low-income families to attend private schools and that eliminates the tenure rights of veteran teachers.

McCrory didn't address those issues in his speech but said his commitment to education funding has been mischaracterized.

The $7.8 billion in the budget is the largest appropriation for K-12 schools in North Carolina history and is $23 million more than in 2012-13, he said. The Department of Public Instruction has said, however, that the funding doesn't factor in enrollment growth, so the appropriation is actually 1.8 percent.

The budget also added 2,500 openings to the state's public pre-kindergarten program, McCrory said.

He blamed cost overruns in the Medicaid program for eating up funds that he hoped would provide at least a 1 percent raise for teachers and state employees – no raises were included in the budget – but he said the tax reform package he recently signed into law will increase the take-home pay of many teachers by 1 percent.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • jgilchr Aug 6, 2013

    It is misleading. Only up to 1,000 teachers would see the stipend and even if what is said about the tax package is true 1 percent is a joke. That is 300 bucks over the course of 12 months or $5.76 per week over the course of a year.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 5, 2013

    Vincenzo- "Proof? Also, to use the "fear mongering" canard is not good- it is downright offensive to think you can judge our thoughts"

    We had a surplus. The general assembly used it to pay for tax cuts. The shortages in other areas will be taken care of at the same time. Talking about self induced Medicaid shortages while complaining that we don't have enough money for teachers is simple fear mongering as it ignores the fact that there isn't any money for education not because of the Medicaid shortage, but because of the tax cuts.

  • vincenzo9198 Aug 3, 2013

    "...to go on what Plenty Coups is saying: federal and state deficits don't work like your credit card bills, student loans, or mortgages. Micro- and macroeconomics work in extremely different ways, so things like this 'unless we pay our loans' talk are fear mongering, or at the very least, wrongheaded."
    Proof? Also, to use the "fear mongering" canard is not good- it is downright offensive to think you can judge our thoughts.

  • peedoffpopo Aug 3, 2013

    We forget something every now and then, North Carolina has a fairly low cost of living. Houses are cheap, rent is cheap, electricity is affordable, water is affordable, and we make less. It is a balancing affect. Wages are low but so is the cost of living. In California wages are high, but so is the cost of living. I would rather make a little less and have more.
    As for education, the lack of discipline is causing this country to continue to fall. The reason we can't copy Japan is out kids would never spend that much time in school. We are a country that has peaked,and much like ancient Rome, we are destined to fall.

  • ospreysilver Aug 2, 2013

    Question, if we already know that other countries have better educational systems, programs, processes, etc, why don't we simply copy them vs. trying to spend our way to better grades? I know us Americans are fat and slow witted, but I thought we could at least copy our neighbors paper!!

  • Mousey Aug 2, 2013

    First: any educational programs that push only "real-world skills" are bunk. Math, the sciences, English, history, etc. ARE real-world skills, and only a fool things otherwise. If you can't calculate or communicate, you will be awful at just about every single job out there in the domestic market right now, guaranteed.

    Also, to go on what Plenty Coups is saying: federal and state deficits don't work like your credit card bills, student loans, or mortgages. Micro- and macroeconomics work in extremely different ways, so things like this "unless we pay our loans" talk are fear mongering, or at the very least, wrongheaded.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 2, 2013

    no free-PC- "Like I said before, teachers and state workers have never been paid well."

    Yes, but never this bad. And dems didn't go after benefits.

    "But for you to blame the GOP totally for what is going on now is just not right."

    They have total control. Their actions speak louder than McCrory's lip service.

    " And when the reps did vote against anything they still lost because they did not have enough votes to overrule the dems."

    Dems didn't always vote together to increase education spending. We were never a leader but we hit national avg. occasionally under Easley and Hunt. They had to increase spending in spite of repub. who always vote against it.

    " The dems should have done this years ago at a smaller rate and the pain wouldn't be as bad."

    By law, the budget must be balanced. The only deficits we have are because we chose to cut Medicaid/unemployment withholding rates before the recession hit. Regardless, this year we had a big surplus.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 2, 2013

    "I feel for the teachers. But until the state gets our loans paid and the entitlement programs under control,"

    The state had a surplus.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 2, 2013

    "We're spending around 500 million less on public education than we were in 2008. That's a cut no matter how you try and spin it."

    sandbar-"Why did you pick 2008 to go back to? Were we in a black hole for 4 years under Perdue?"

    Like I said, I don't defend Perdue when she chose to cut education her first 2 years to deal with the recession. But then she tried to fix it, only to be blocked by republicans, This is their problem entirely as we had a surplus this year and they CHOSE to still neglect educational spending and in fact cut it further.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 2, 2013

    "And as for "average" $46,000/year, tell that to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th year teachers stuck at $30,800."

    Its also well below the national average for teachers. About 10 thousand dollars less.