Performance-based pay plan for NC teachers unveiled

Posted May 7, 2014

— North Carolina public school teachers would be able to earn thousands of dollars more a year if they succeed in the classroom, mentor their colleagues and work in high-demand subjects or hard-to-staff schools under a plan rolled out Wednesday by Gov. Pat McCrory.

McCrory also said that he will recommend in his 2014-15 budget proposal that all teachers receive an average 2 percent pay raise this year. That is on top of a plan he and legislative leaders announced in February to raise the base pay for starting teachers.

"If we're going to fulfill our potential and ensure that every member of the next generation and future generations in North Carolina fulfill their potential, we can't just appreciate teachers for one week," the governor said, noting that this is Teacher Appreciation Week across the state. "We've got to appreciate teachers for generations to come every week of the year."

The Career Pathways for Teachers program is a local-based model that would reward teachers for both experience and student performance and give school districts the flexibility to provide higher pay to get teachers into low-income and rural schools and to recruit hard-to-find science and math teachers.

"We're bringing the decisions back to the local level and not have all of the decisions made in Raleigh," McCrory said. "I want to give (superintendents) flexibility to meet the market forces."

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill said he would welcome the flexibility to have a different pay plan than one offered in Charlotte or in Dare County.

"The opportunity to create the district's own plans based on needs," Merrill said, "that's great news to hear."

The program also would reward successful teachers who remain in the classroom rather than move into administrative positions and then mentor other teachers. McCrory's plan also would reinstate pay bumps for teachers with advanced degrees in their fields. State lawmakers eliminated that extra pay last year but said they would reinstate it only for teachers already working toward their degrees.

"This is all about the students and attracting the best teachers we can to help the students," McCrory said, adding that under-performing teachers would no longer be guaranteed annual raises.

McCrory highlighted a few teachers attending the announcement at North Carolina A&T State University to show how they would benefit under the Career Pathways model. For example, Pam Foster, a fourth-grade teacher at Forest Pines Drive Elementary School in Raleigh, would be eligible for up to $14,750 more because she has nine years in the classroom, has national board certification and is a teacher mentor.

"We shouldn't have to be worried about paying our bills. We should be focused on educating the students in our communities," Franklinton Elementary School third-grade teacher Rebecca Bishop said..

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson expressed support for the plan. The North Carolina Association of Educators said it has proposed changes to the state's teacher pay structure for years and wants to work with McCrory and lawmakers on crafting a "fair and workable salary schedule."

All school districts are asked to submit plans for their own performance-based pay models in the coming months, and the State Board of Education will select eight districts to pilot the program in 2014-15 and another eight in 2015-16. The state board will then approve the pilots that meet the Career Pathways objectives. By 2017-18, all North Carolina school districts will have the system in place.

McCrory plans to set aside $9 million in his budget proposals in each of the next two years to pay for the pilot projects, and he said Career Pathways would become a funding priority for new state revenue in the coming years. He couldn't estimate the total cost of the system.

"This is going to be a tough battle, partly due to the tough budget circumstances and, frankly, due to we have so many different opinions on education from both the right and the left," he said. "This is not about the right and the left. This is about doing what's right for the future of North Carolina."

Increasing the base pay for starting teachers from $30,800 to $35,000 over the next two years already is expected to cost $174 million, and officials said Wednesday that expanding that to an average 2 percent raise for more experienced teachers and providing a $1,000 raise for other state workers would push the total cost to about $265 million.

"I know that's not as much as you want and need, but it's a beginning," he said.

NCAE Vice President Mark Jewell panned the proposed raises as inadequate, noting that teacher pay has been frozen for five of the last six years.

"North Carolina needs to restore the income of those teachers and give an across-the-board raise that is meaningful," Jewell said in a statement, suggesting that the state put off tax cuts scheduled to go into effect this year.

McCrory also said he plans to include an extra $3.6 million in his budget proposal to expand slots in the state's pre-kindergarten program and would add $23 million to the budget for school textbooks, noting the shift to digital learning won't happen overnight.

The governor didn't say, however, what he plans to cut in his spending outline to pay for the various increases, but he said it could be funded without sacrificing tax cuts. Democrats quickly jumped on that aspect to criticize the proposal.

"All Gov. McCrory provided today is an unfunded plan that continues to sell North Carolina educators and students short," House Minority Leader Larry Hall said in a statement. "North Carolina needs a bold plan that includes more significant pay raises for our teachers and puts North Carolina on a path to reaching the national average."

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said he wants to work with McCrory on a "real plan" to improve teacher pay and North Carolina public schools.

"The governor clearly recognizes the need to undo some of the damage that his administration did to education last year," Blue said in a statement. "It’s time to see action, and not just to relieve some of the hardships teachers have borne thanks to the governor."


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  • RDcallsit May 14, 2014

    it makes me sick to my stomach to hear and read about teachers so underpaid and our taxes must go towards increasing teacher's pay. If we're going to have a 'national' rate increase for teachers then lets consider the same for state employees. state employees have not had a raise in 5 or so of the last 5 or 6 years... 3% is not a disrespectful raise so let's call it a 12% raise this year and 3% going forward. If we want to enforce 'performance' pay for teachers, then let's consider the same for state employees. Why are these two very distinct groups separated in all important state related conversations?

  • marinodelong May 11, 2014

    When a school has a huge problem with bullies and treating the victim's family as though they are criminals, it's difficult for me to support a pay raise for the teachers and administration, especially at leesville elementary school. They are the most unprofessional, untrustworthy people I've ever met.

  • Greg Boop May 9, 2014
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    It is difficult to believe you are unable to find any articles on teacher pay on WRAL when I can dig up dozens of articles via a simple search on teacher pay in the search box at the top right that takes under 5 seconds. Here is the top one from the list - I hope you find it educational:

    Hundreds of teachers leaving Wake schools; pay cited
    http://www.wral.com/-alarming-wake-teacher-turnover-numbers-to-be-released-thursday/13576437/-- article includes links to the survey.

  • juliomercado May 9, 2014

    It is obvious based on the article Newsandobserver mentioned below that Phil Berger is going to keep these raises from happening. It is more obvious to anyone paying attention that Berger has a great animosity towards teachers. He incessantly calls NCAE a union when as a successful lawyer he knows that is a lie. He knows NC is a right to work state and therefore public service unions are illegal. He has also made derogatory statements multiple times on his Facebook page and in the public forum towards educators. My guess is that there will be no raises, sans the one Berger signed off on earlier. I also am convinced that Berger is truly anti education. One can only guess why, but his actions bear it out quite well.

  • Barbara Sheppard May 8, 2014
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    I'm sorry. I apologize. This story and a lot of the comments here make it sound like teaching is the only position that is important and matters. I work just as hard as anyone else and I feel like I am being pushed aside because I'm not a teacher. If my position is not important, then why am I here? If my position is important, then why am I not being considered for a raise too? In the past, any time raises were given to State employees, teachers always get a larger percentage than the staff. They are the ones the State and everyone else considers to be the important ones. The rest of us are not as important. That was the reason I said they could fix their own computers. It wasn't an attack, it was a statement that my position is not important, therefore I'm not either. What am I here for?

  • Doug Pawlak May 8, 2014
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    I thought we were talking about the republican neglect of education. Now you want to change the argument to Perdue who I really don't support. But I will address what you wrote. (1) Perdue didn't leave in "2010", she was in office until 2012. (2) By law, NC's budget must be balanced each year. Unfunded liabilities aren't considered part of a yearly budget balance.(3) I don't see where your link supports what you claim.

  • Robert Smith May 8, 2014
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    We should be able to give the teachers a 10% pay increase with all the fines the State will collect from Duke Energy. I'm sorry I meant a10 cent increase with all these fines. You protect McCory like you have done since taking office.

  • Karen Lambert May 8, 2014
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    Please tell me why teachers should get automatic "step-based" raises just because they have been teaching forever, regardless of whether they are any good at it or not. Why should their effectiveness as a teacher and co-worker not be evaluated like every other profession? If you only took the job as teacher because you thought you could get an automatic raise every year regardless of your performance you should probably not be teaching. Come on out here in the real world, get a job where you have to prove yourself every day and if you don't perform, you don't get a raise.

  • Objective Scientist May 8, 2014

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    I'm aware of what you state... and you are correct. I was speaking of the use of the "bully pulpit" and political savy type of leadership to put pressure on the legislative leaders to move things in the direction you (the Gov) want.

  • bissettsp2 May 8, 2014

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    She didn't balance anything she left with a 3.7 billion dollar shortfall in 2010 www.ncrealsolutions.com/fact-check-our-ad. Please explain where she balanced the budget???? Must be Obama math