McCrory, legislative leaders to offer teacher pay plan

Posted February 9, 2014

— Gov. Pat McCrory and top legislative leaders will announce their plans for raising teacher salaries Monday morning during an event at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown. 

In a notice for the event sent Sunday afternoon, McCrory's office described the 10:30 a.m. news conference as a policy announcement. However, multiple sources on and off the record confirmed that it would directly address teacher salaries. 

In addition to the governor, House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Lt. Gov. Dan Forrest, all Republicans, will be on hand. The event has many of the same trappings as when the state's top leaders rolled out a transportation reform package last year. That package sailed through the General Assembly after getting an initial blessing by all the state's top leaders. 

This education reform measure could be getting a similarly warm send-off that could ease its way through the somewhat tumultuous legislative process. 

"Yes, in principal I think there is a pretty good, solid agreement between the three bodies," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, a chairman of both the Senate education budget and policy committees. 

One person not scheduled to attend: Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, a Democrat, who had not been invited to the event as of late Friday afternoon, according to her office. Atkinson has clashed with Berger in recent weeks over how a new reading requirement for third-graders should be implemented.

Neither the press release nor those who spoke about the announcement would give specific details of what would be announced. However, Tillman said, "If you've been listening and paying attention to what we've been saying, then you would have a good clue of what's going to take place."

Both McCrory and top legislative leaders have been talking about the need to raise teacher salaries. During a recent appearance on WRAL's "On the Record," McCrory education adviser Eric Guckian said that raising the $30,800 starting salary for teachers – about $6,000 below the national average – is a high priority for the governor. 

"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."

Tillman, too, said that lawmakers generally agreed that raising the starting salary for teachers needed to be part of the package. "We need to get our teachers up to a competitive level with teachers from other states," he said. 

Although some districts, such as Wake County, supplement what the state pays teachers, other districts offer only the state wage. Teachers have gotten only one across-the-board state salary increase in the past six years. 

Both the governor and lawmakers have talked about differential pay for teachers in certain subject areas, such as science and math. It is unclear whether that will be part of the outline announced Monday. 

Officials with the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state's largest teachers organization, have stressed that they want to see salaries raised for all teachers before pay bumps for specific specialties are considered. North Carolina's average teacher pay ranks among the bottom five states in the nation, according to the National Education Association, a teachers advocacy group. 

In last year's budget, lawmakers gave school districts the chance to raise salaries of 25 percent of their teachers. In exchange for bonuses totaling $5,000 over the next four years, those teachers would give up their career status rights, what some call teacher tenure. That offer has been a point of controversy, with teachers groups saying that the state should raise salaries for all teachers. It is unlikely that any consensus plan would repeal that offer. 

The staging on Monday's announcement is interesting in itself.

McCrory is a Ragsdale High graduate, and he has often returned to Jamestown and the surrounding area during key moments in his career, including announcements that he would run for governor in 2008 and 2012. 

The first-term Republican has claimed former Gov. Jim Hunt as "a mentor," but he is drawing eyes away from Raleigh at the same time Hunt is kicking off the annual Emerging Issues Forum, an annual event the former governor founded. This year, the two-day conference is tackling the issue of education and the need to train, attract and keep highly qualified teachers. McCrory is scheduled to address the forum Monday afternoon.


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  • jnelson631 Feb 13, 2014

    As a veteran teacher, my advice to anyone considering teaching in North Carolina...Don't do it! This state does not value you, this state will not value your profession, and this state does not honor it's commitments. By all means teach... just not here. I am from here (unlike McCrory, Tillis, or Berger), I have dedicated my career towards improving my school and community, and I will probably finish my career here. (Unlike this state I understand and honor the idea of commitment) This plan just further reinforces the growing evidence that our leadership is trying to devalue people who make life long commitments to their schools and communities. In June 2011, Tillis made the comment in an open mic, directed at NCAE (which I am not a member) that "We just want to give them a little taste of what’s to come". In the two years since...we have seen what came after the "taste". If you are considering teaching in this state...just realize this is what we face..AND DON"T DO IT...not her

  • jnelson631 Feb 13, 2014

    My mother in law used to make a barbecue sauce that was so good that the joke was that you could put it on a t#rd and it would be good. Maybe they should put some of this on their proposal....and maybe save a little to sprinkle on themselves as well.

  • ospreysilver Feb 10, 2014

    NC is hilarious, our Governor boldly proposes paying our teachers as much as those in SC, MISS, and Tenn., which are also the poorest states in the US. Our teachers will be the highest paid poor people in the south.

  • Taffy Feb 10, 2014

    So new teachers will be making more than many existing teachers due to the lack of raises over the last 5 years. Teachers you need to quit and then apply for the replacement positions! Seriously what a slap in the face to all the teachers that have been struggling without raises for so long!

  • hppyhourhero Feb 10, 2014

    starshield: If he gave everyone a 100%, no one would complain...Plus, he has not given anyone a 100% (unless you count his campaign staff)

  • j9us Feb 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I think we all know why.

  • jakrijugi Feb 10, 2014


  • marsupial75 Feb 10, 2014

    Computer trainer,
    In theory, that sounds like it would work, but any metric of merit is a weak proxy for actual performance. We are using standardized test scores of a newly implemented test that does not measure actual teacher or even student performance. Moreover, how do you compare performance of a music teacher versus a third grade teacher or a middle school science teacher? An AP English teacher vs. remedial English? A class of 34 versus a class of 18?

    Merit pay sounds good and fair, but there isn't currently a satisfactory or valid way of implementing it.

    Many administrators know teachers that do what they can to get by. Those sorts typically don't last long. They can be terminated or asked to leave, with or without tenure, if they aren't pulling their weight.

  • Barbara Sossomon Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    I would like to see a MERIT based system of raises for teachers AND state employees. Some teacher and employees just do the least they can to get by. Those folks either need to retire, OR to step up and start working. You should get a raise based on how and what you do. Not for just being employed where you are.

  • Barbara Sossomon Feb 10, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Not sure why. WRAL always uses the worst photos they take of the Gov.