McCrory, teachers continue to spar over pay

Posted August 31, 2016

Gov. Pat McCrory talks to students in Clayton.

— As North Carolina's largest educators association blasted the state's efforts on teacher pay Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory defended Republican efforts to do more for public schools.

McCrory faces Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper in this year's gubernatorial election campaign. The issue of school funding and teacher pay has permeated that campaign and other campaigns, with Democrats making the case that the GOP has under-funded schools, particularly when it comes to teacher salaries.

In particular, an oft-repeated line that average teacher pay throughout the state will hit $50,000 for the first time this year has drawn criticism from the North Carolina Association of Educators and others. While it's true that state lawmakers raised base pay for all public school teachers as part of the state budget passed this summer, what any one teacher makes is greatly affected by the local supplement provided by the school system in which they teach.

"I'm an accomplished teacher according to my evaluation and colleagues, but according to my paycheck, I am not an average teacher," said Hannah Bethea, a Franklinton Elementary School teacher who has been in the classroom for 11 years.

"Let me assure you, I am making well under $50,000 a year," Bethea said. "This is not professional compensation."

Bethea, an NCAE member, says her raise amounts to $53 a month, most of which will be eaten up by the classroom supplies she has to buy with her own money.

NC school districts' average teacher supplements

Search for your school district to see how much extra money it paid teachers, on average, by year. Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction

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At an appearance in Clayton Wednesday morning, McCrory insisted all teachers were better off that they have been.

"The statistic is the average – average teacher pay," he said. "I'm not saying every teacher makes that. But believe me, we've had accountants look at this, and it’s accurate. I've clearly stated that not all teachers make that.

"All I do know is teachers are making more money now than they were in the past at least the past five years, and that’s very positive news. Is it enough? No, we’re going to try to get better, but thank God we had some money in the past two years where we distributed that to the teaching professions, and it was well deserved."

Classroom generic Fact Check: Does average NC teacher really make $50,000?

Caroline Day, an eighth-grade English teacher in Johnston County who serves on the Governor's Task Force for Safer Schools, said she feels like the governor is making an effort to raise teacher pay.

"Do we have more progress to make? Of course, but I really feel like Gov. McCrory is helping us out and making that better for us," she said.

Cooper weighed in with a news release, saying that McCrory was "all talk" when it comes to education funding.

Meanwhile, NCAE President Mark Jewell was critical of Republican lawmakers for leaving nearly 4,000 of the state's most senior educators with no raise.

Jewell said per-student spending, adjusted for inflation, has fallen from $6,237 in 2008 to $5,616 this year, a drop of about 10 percent.

“Our educators and peers are continuously having to dig into their pockets to meet students’ most basic needs because of the lack of investment from this governor,” he said.

Green Hope High School music teacher Jeremy Tucker, also an NCAE member, is the regional Teacher of the Year. He says the problem goes well beyond teacher paychecks.

“Textbooks are scarce and completely outdated. Instructional supplies are still well behind where they were before the recession, and technology has become a game of the haves and the have-nots with my students. It’s about priorities," Tucker said. "It's astounding to me and the educators and supporters here today that teachers have to actually have a GoFundMe account or a DonorsChoose account to purchase musical instruments or to help find rugs for classroom projects."

McCrory pledged that the GOP would put more funding into schools. But, he said, the steps made thus far, including concentrating on raising pay for early-career teachers, were informed by requests he got from educators.

It was teachers' groups, he said, "who told me teachers with one to five years' experience were the ones that were really hurting the most. But we still have teachers (hurting), including one I met with that works a part-time job along with teaching. And I understand. We're listening to them, and we’re positively responding, and the facts speak for themselves."


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  • Aiden Audric Sep 2, 11:33 a.m.
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    McCrory's pants are constantly on fire. He shouldn't be around school children! It's too dangerous!

  • Don Benfield Sep 2, 5:53 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Not blind. Eyes wide open to reality instead of ideology.

  • Chad Stinner Sep 1, 5:48 p.m.
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    Working for the state always came at a price. You earn less but have great benefits and it's hard to fire you. Pat McCrory has done just about everything he can to eliminate the benefits.

    To give you scope, I went from working at the state level to private industry and doubled what I made. That's literally the difference. With teachers, they don't really have that option. They do it because they love it and those that really try should be rewarded for it.

    Looking at every other state out there we are near rock bottom in teacher pay and the good teachers are leaving the state because they can make 20-60% more in other states.

  • Thomas McDonald Sep 1, 4:12 p.m.
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    money will not fix whats wrong with education, as history has shown us it keep the staus quo

  • Thomas McDonald Sep 1, 4:04 p.m.
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    Traditional educators have long used the more money will fix things argument for decades.
    We have found out that money, nor more money will fix whats wrong with education becausee money is not the problem.
    Effective, efficient, consistent, affordable student success outcomes is the problem. Until this gets fixed money and more money should not be a part of the conversation.

  • Carol Smith Sep 1, 11:58 a.m.
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    maybe u should try teaching. then u would have facts re conditions in our classrooms. they work extra long hours and still have to pay out of pocket for supplies.

  • Carol Smith Sep 1, 11:48 a.m.
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    commenters here have conveniently forgotten about the fact that we were on the verge of a depression by 2006. the prefer to blame dems rather than the economy. mcdoofus walked into an already rebounding economy in 2012. he has created nothing but problems and embarrassment for nc, along with millions of dollars in lost revenue due to bigotry and discriminatory laws.

  • Roger Chance Sep 1, 11:11 a.m.
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    YEAH! Let's hold Pat responsible for the last 20 years of democrat leaders. NO, WAIT! It's Bush's fault.

  • Roger Chance Sep 1, 11:08 a.m.
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    Nor did I. I suggested that the constant whiners find another job.

  • Roger Chance Sep 1, 11:07 a.m.
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    View quoted thread