NC to give starting teachers hefty pay increase

Posted February 10, 2014

— Gov. Pat McCrory and top legislative leaders said Monday that they have hammered out an agreement to raise starting salaries for North Carolina public school teachers by almost 14 percent over the next two years.

The proposal would lift the base pay for new teachers from $30,800 to $35,000 by the 2015-16 school year, including a $2,200 raise this fall, followed by another $2,000 next year.

McCrory said the $176 million needed to pay for the increase would come from existing revenue, and no tax increase would be needed to fund it.

"It's about time we start showing respect for our teachers," he said during a news conference at his alma mater, Ragsdale High School in Jamestown. "For the past six years or so, North Carolina has not made the needed investments in its teachers."

The increase would affect about 42,000 teachers statewide and would move North Carolina past South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia in starting teacher salaries, McCrory said. It also would make the state more competitive with other states in trying to attract and retain the best teachers.

"We're still looking for more money for all of our teachers," he said, adding that other state workers also would receive raises this year as the budget permits.

Democrats and long-time teachers quickly criticized McCrory's announcement, saying all teachers should be paid more, not just those starting out in the state's classrooms.

"As a 20-year veteran, am I important?" said Elizabeth Foster, a special education teacher in Guilford County. "I’m afraid I’m going to get a lot of phone calls from colleagues saying, 'What about me?'"

House Minority Leader Larry Hall said the base pay increase "falls remarkably short," while Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt called the news conference "a celebratory, election-year rally."

“All teachers in North Carolina are responsible for preparing our children to be successful, and all teachers deserve to be paid like the professionals they are," Hall said in a statement. "We need a dedicated plan to raise teacher pay to the national average so we can attract and retain the very best teachers."

"We didn’t see a plan to raise teacher salaries to the national average. We didn’t see a plan to make North Carolina competitive with states like Virginia that are actively recruiting our best educators. We didn’t see a plan to ensure that our students are prepared for today’s workforce,"  Nesbitt said in a statement.

Teachers have gotten only one across-the-board state salary increase in the past six years, and North Carolina ranks among the lowest states nationwide in terms of average teacher salary.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who joined McCrory for the announcement, along with House Speaker Thom Tillis and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, said lawmakers hope to provide raises to more teachers beyond the base pay increase, but it's too early to see how the state budget will shape up next year.

"We’re doing what we think we have the capacity to do," Berger said. "It would be foolish of us to make a promise we can’t keep and take a step we’d ultimately have to back track on."

Rene Herrick, a Wake County teacher who serves on McCrory's panel of teacher advisers, said the panel backs across-the-board pay increases for teachers.

"We want the entire teaching profession to be rewarded," Herrick said. "We look to our veteran teachers for their knowledge, their experience."

McCrory said lawmakers would be rolling out more proposals for teacher pay in the coming months, but he declined to say what they could involve. Last month, he suggested market-based salaries that would pay teachers more in competitive fields, such as science and math.

"This is just the first step," he said of the increase in base pay.

Many of the state's public school teachers remain incensed over actions the General Assembly took last year, such as creating a voucher program that shifts some state education money to private schools, ending tenure rights for veteran teachers and eliminating the supplement for teachers who earn advanced degrees.

Berger said lawmakers would amend that last piece of legislation this year so that anyone who has already started work on a master's or doctoral degree will get the pay bump once they earn the degree.

Tillis said lawmakers "reassessed" and determined that they made a mistake on depriving teachers already in the process of earning a degree of the increase.


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  • sisu Feb 11, 2014

    Just give them back the "steps".

  • sisu Feb 11, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Well, that's rich. You start by trying to tie the recession to both parties, acting as if you're trying to be educated and reasonable. Then you blame Perdue entirely for the lack of raises. You either have little access to actual information, a poor memory or you just don't care about being accurate. I think it's a bit of all three. When the recession hit, the teachers were being true Americans by giving up their steps to contribute to the cause. Once things improved, Perdue attempted to give them raises but she was denied this by the GOP starting with the 2010 crowd.

    I don't know how some people can keep ignoring verifiable facts like that. When presented with historical facts, some people just ignore them. It's not opinion, you can look it up historically.

  • swoodsreader Feb 11, 2014

    The only politician in this state who ever truly cared about teachers is Jim Hunt. It is shameful that a teacher who has spent an entire career educating young people can barely bring home enough money to provide for his/her family. Shame on the politicians dems and reps, the media, and all the citizens who allow it to happen.

  • jscletsplay1002002 Feb 11, 2014

    "We're still looking for more money for all of our teachers," he said, adding that other state workers also would receive raises this year as the budget permits."

    thats not what Pope wants so thats not what your gonna get! Get Pope out of our government and his money needs to get out of these republicans pockets!

  • notexactly Feb 11, 2014


    Liar.. The bush recession???? Really? The recession was both parties fault. get off your hatred of the right and tell the truth. Your babble is hilarious. If you look back and do some research, The cause of the recession was started most likely before the carter years. Neither party did any thing to stop it. Stop your crying and blaming. Bev cut and froze teachers and state employees pay. She started it all. You kill my with the Obama mentality to blame others for the dems mistakes. Just stop lying and be truthful

  • Objective Scientist Feb 11, 2014

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    While I've done no tabulation, from scanning through these comments every person in that 3% group (think teachers make too much) must have chosen to make a post/comments to this article. Just goes to show how "blogs" and "comment boards" are anything but "scientific" and good samples of an entire population! Those statistics are encouraging... we have more "sane" and "logical" people in the state than one would have deduced from these comments!

  • 678devilish Feb 11, 2014

    All teachers should have been given raises. The older and longest teacher deserves raises too. The governor is so wrong in not seeing this. Voting time is coming; just vote him out.

  • joycejunior Feb 11, 2014

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    Then one could assume that you getting a raise doesn't depend on the political party in charge, does it? Teachers can't go to a boss and ask for a raise.

  • Greg Boop Feb 11, 2014
    user avatar

    This is the ONLY reason why McCrory and the Republican legislature are scrambling to increase teacher pay in an election year.

    North Carolinians strongly back teacher pay increase -

    "PPP's newest North Carolina poll finds broad bipartisan support for Governor Jim Hunt's proposal to raise teacher pay in the state to the national average over the next four years. 79% of voters support it to only 11% who are opposed, and that includes 88% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 66% of Republicans.

    Support for Hunt's proposal is driven by a strong belief that teachers in the state are underpaid. 72% of voters think they're paid too little, compared to 20% who think what they make is about right and only 3% who believe they're paid too much. 83% are concerned that North Carolina teachers are choosing other professions or moving to teach in other states..." (more at url)

  • Ashley Moore Feb 11, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    I was being sarcastic. I attended college with many out-of-state and international students.