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NC still lags in teacher pay, student spending

Posted March 18, 2015

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— Despite an effort to raise starting salaries, North Carolina is expected to remain in the bottom 10 states nationally in average teacher pay, according to a report released Wednesday.

The National Education Association estimates the average salary for a North Carolina public school teacher in the 2014-15 school year at $47,783, which ranks 42nd nationally. In the 2013-14 school year, the state average was $44,990, or 47th nationally, according to the NEA.

Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers vowed last year to increase starting salaries for teachers from less than $31,000 to $35,000 by the start of the 2015-16 school year. Part of that increase was included in last year's state budget, and McCrory two weeks ago rolled out his budget proposal for this year that includes the remainder.

More experienced teachers received much smaller raises last year, and the state Department of Public Instruction has estimated that only one-third of public school teachers would see a raise this year under McCrory's proposal.

“Improving the base pay for beginning teachers is important, but we can’t ignore tens of thousands of teachers that are working hard every day in our classrooms to make our students successful,” North Carolina Association of Educators President Rodney Ellis said in a statement.

Over the last decade, North Carolina ranks dead last nationally for raising teacher salaries, according to the NEA report.

Public school teachers in the state saw salaries drop by 17.4 percent on average between 2003-04 and 2013-14 when their pay is adjusted for inflation, the report states. The national average over that period was a 3.5 percent drop, and the closest state to North Carolina was Indiana, which saw average salaries drop by 12.9 percent, adjusted for inflation.

In terms of per-pupil spending, the NEA report ranks North Carolina 46th in the United States in 2014-15, up from 47th in 2013-14. But spending actually drops from $8,632 to $8,620 per student from last year to this year, according to the report.

“The rankings once again show the troubling trend of falling per-student funding in our public schools,” Ellis said. “Instead of righting the ship, North Carolina’s per-pupil expenditure continues to drop. If we are going to get serious about what works, we must get serious about modern textbooks in the classrooms, more one-on-one interaction with teachers and students and a quality teacher in every class.”

McCrory's budget proposal includes a small increase in education spending outside of teacher raises.

Eric Guckian, McCrory's education adviser, dismissed the NEA's rankings, saying North Carolina is working to improve student results.

"The union’s press release is a typical one, focused on adults and money without a single mention of student outcomes," Guckian said in a statement. "Governor McCrory is leading a change that makes targeted investments in education spending that has students, not special interests, at the center of the equation."

Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson declined to comment on the NEA report.

21 Comments

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  • Terry Watts Mar 24, 2015
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    Houston Schools had a job fair in Greensboro this past week...

  • Andi Rueny Mar 20, 2015
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    Collin Mcloud, your numbers are way off base. Yes the salary is for 10 months of work but they have a choice of not getting paid for two months or taking a 12 month salary which lessens the amount per month of take home pay. There is no comparison saying they start at 33,000 and that is like taking home 39,000...how do your do your math? That is like saying you get paid $10 an hour but I only worked 45 minutes so I really just made $15 ! Let me guess, are you a tax attorney for the government?

  • Joyce Junior Mar 19, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Teachers also hit the national average under Easley. McCrory doesn't even give that goal lip service. The General Assembly doesn't even give it a thought.

  • Joyce Junior Mar 19, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Compare apples to apples. The state rankings take all that into consideration. Compared with other state's teachers and with other professions that require a degree, our teachers are way underpaid by any measurement. Wonder why it's not a priority with this group in power?

  • Joyce Junior Mar 19, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Do you really think that we'll attract and retain top quality teachers by spending less than everybody else?

  • Terry Watts Mar 19, 2015
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    False logic: $39k over 10 months or over 12months is still exactly $39k.

    Erroneous info: NC has abandoned a higher pay structure for those with higher or professional degrees. Those with Master's Degrees get not bonuses for those degrees.

    And since the GOP led GA views a family of four earning $43k a year a "poor" and therefore require Educational Vouchers, I would consider a salary of $39k as NOT "doing pretty well".

  • Collin McLoud Mar 19, 2015
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    and Fast Food workers are worh $15/hr right? SMH

  • Elaine Hardy Mar 19, 2015
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    And yet... North Carolina spent $500 MILLION in corporate tax subsidies.

    In European countries (Germany, for example), corporations bear the tax burden just like the citizenry - and in many cases even more so. In the United States, the Middle Class bears the burden for higher-income AND lower-income citizens. Example: In 2013, the Average American Family spent $432 in taxes to keep another Average American Family in Food Stamps. That same Average American Family paid almost $6,000 in taxes so that corporations and wealthy American Families didn't have to pay their fair share.

    Additionally - the drop-out rate in the U.S. is the highest among developed nations. At age 10, American students taking an international test score well above the international average, but by age 15, when students from 40 countries are tested, the Americans place 25th.

    As long as we allow the blame to be shifted AWAY from those who shirk their responsibilities, NOTHING will ever change.

  • Elaine Hardy Mar 19, 2015
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    @COLLIN MCLOUD Those are PATHETIC wages. Public school teachers are worth TWICE that!

  • Collin McLoud Mar 19, 2015
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    People tend to forget the fact that a teacher's salary is based on 10 months and not 12 months. New teachers in NC start out at $33,000 school year. This is equivalent to $39,000 annually if they actually worked a full 12 months.This does not not including any annual supplements form the school system. Currently, Wake County offers an annual supplement of $4,703. This increases their 10-months salary to $37,703 which is equivalent to $45,243.60 annually. This does not include any increases for Master's degrees or National Board Cert's. According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income for NC is $46,334. I say teachers are doing pretty well. Many families in NC do not make as much as a teacher with both parents working.

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