Teacher pay, Common Core take center stage during education panel

Posted May 3, 2014

— Teacher compensation and Common Core standards took center stage Saturday morning during a panel discussion at North Carolina State University's McKimmon Center. 

State representatives Rosa Gill, D-Wake, Tom Murry, R-Wake, Paul Stam, R-Wake, and Senator Josh Stein, D-Wake, offered a window into some of what the North Carolina General Assembly may tackle during its short session, which begins later this month.

"Teacher compensation is not a new issue," Murry said when describing the challenges his mother faced during a 30-year career in education. "I'm glad we're having the conversation, but it's not a new issue. We will reward teachers this year with compensation increases."

Murry said a good place to start will be with new teachers, those who have spent less than six years on the job. 

"We need to focus on those teachers because that's the future as the work force ages," he said. "We need to plant a tree today, and that's what we're trying to do with our early teacher compensation plan."

Stam pointed to the difference between salary and compensation, saying that he supports the state's decision to put substantial funds towards benefits such as health insurance and retirement. 

"I read in the News & Observer about this $30,800 figure. That only applies to beginning teachers in school systems with no supplement, which is almost none," Stam said. "What is the compensation for a beginning teacher in Wake County? Well, it's $48,335. I think it is a wise decision that the state has made for decades to put a lot of money into benefits."

Wake schools’ average teacher salary is $45,512 while the national average is $56,383, the district said in April.

Stein was critical of Gov. Pat McCrory's plan to give new teachers pay raises, saying a plan that didn't also give raises to experienced teachers "doesn't really constitute a teacher compensation plan at all."

"Our kids learn because of our teachers. They are the single most important school-related factor in student achievement. Yet teacher morale is as low as any of us can remember," he said. "Their sense of alienation is no surprise given how the state has treated them in recent years."

Stein said he expects the General Assembly to pass a plan in the short session that gives teachers a 1 to 2 percent increase in pay. 

"We have to demand a multi-year commitment," he said, citing North Carolina's national ranking of 46th in teacher pay and compensation. "One to 2 percent won't get it done."

As for Common Core, Stein said he expects the legislature to abandon it. 

"There is a great deal of misinformation. First, it's not a curriculum. It's a set of standards about what we expect students to know each year," Stein said. "Second, it's not a federal initiative. Third, it's extremely popular with teachers. When you roll out a new program you expect kinks. You work through them."

A student committee on April 24 approved a proposal to move North Carolina away from Common Core. 

Although the bill does delete legislative language referencing Common Core standards, it does not take them out of play right away. Rather, the measure would create an Academic Standards Review Commission to develop standards "tailored to the needs of North Carolina's students."

The commission would be part of the state Department of Administration, not the Department of Public Instruction. It would be instructed to finish a first run at revising the standards by 2015, in time for the 2016 legislative session.

The revised standards would go to State Board of Education for approval, but if lawmakers don't agree with the board's position, they could override it and enact new standards themselves.

Saturday's panel discussion was hosted by Public Schools First NC and moderated by Joel Rosch, a senior research scholar at Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • LetsBeFair May 6, 2014

    Teaching is a calling. That teacher of the year was saying they teach the doctors and lawyers and presidents. That's not true, proper parenting is first and foremost in the platform of teaching. I found her comments rather insulting.

  • LetsBeFair May 6, 2014

    With kids in school in wake county. The teachers do not deserve a raise. And common core looks good on paper, but no one learns anything and its hard to help kids at home.

  • jlanser May 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    We are spending too much money? I have a class that doesn't have textbooks. In fact, in a school with over 1200 students we have one class set of books to share among each grade. These textbooks are also extremely outdated. We have no technology to use with students. We buy our own classroom supplies to give to students. Please tell me where we are over funded. I'm an educator and I find it extremely frustrating and sad that people who have no clue what it is really like in school try to speak to it. Also, this lack of results you speak of. Please clarify. Do you mean the low scores on these standardized tests that nobody in education supports? These tests that do not even coincide with the curriculum because, again, they are written by people at the cheapest price and not in the education setting.

  • Smilester May 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I agree. We are the only country on the planet that literally tries to educate everyone. That is often overlooked.

  • hiddentreasurescruecds May 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    But parents already have that choice. They can choose a private school that fits their need, or they can homeschool their children if they so desire.

    If you want to dismantle the public school system then those are your two choices. If you truly want government our of education you will be left with for profit schools run by private companies. I'm not sure that will be any improvement to the system we have now. And if we limit ourselves to only the facts, the public school system does pretty well when you consider they attempt to educate every child in the country between the ages of 5-19 regardless of race, citizenship, handicap, ability, economic background, etc.

  • whatelseisnew May 5, 2014

    " The General Assembly want nothing more than to allocate the absolute bare minimum funding for public schools so they can pander to the hedge fund investors in the private and charter school systems that are getting ready to pounce. The bottom line is, if you are a teacher, or a parent who values public schools, this is not the state for you.

    Schools get the LIONS share of the State budget and county budgets, PLUS they get all kinds of other money from many other sources. I guess in your world ignoring that truth is acceptable. It is not acceptable to me. The REALITY is, we are spending far TOO MUCH money especially when you examine the abysmal results. Time to rid ourselves of the boat anchor known as the traditional public school system and give parents actual choice and the ACTUAL ability to hold the school they do choose accountable. THere is ZERO accountability in the public school system. It is no longer a viable OR sustainable system.

  • Eric Allgrim May 5, 2014
    user avatar

    The implementation and high stakes pressure to use Common Core was greatly flawed, but the real reason it's being scrapped is it causes the state money. About $80 million a year to be exact. Plus, tack on the summer academy for all the 3rd graders who are aren't passing the 3rd grade reading assessments, and that all leaves the state with a huge bill. The General Assembly want nothing more than to allocate the absolute bare minimum funding for public schools so they can pander to the hedge fund investors in the private and charter school systems that are getting ready to pounce. The bottom line is, if you are a teacher, or a parent who values public schools, this is not the state for you.

  • Olenc Native May 5, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    The people you hear speak out about it aren't teachers. You can tell that from how they are consistently wrong in insisting that Common Core is curriculum and not standards.

  • 12345_here May 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I know Stam is wrong if the quote is correct. I was just pointing out the fact since it is deeply troubling that he has such a small grasp of the situation and seems to be a leading figure in defunding the schools and attacking a non existent union

  • Terry Watts May 5, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    So you think we should let the States/Districts/Schools set their own curriculum, trains their own teachers, and administer their own system???

    Common Core (currently) places all the responsibility upon the localities to meet the Standards. Currently, all those decisions are made by the State's Dept. of Public Instruction, the local Districts, and the School themselves.

    This new GOP proposal would remove the Dept. of Public Instruction from their appointed role, instead giving control to the Dept. of Administration - I see this as nothing but a ploy to wrest control over Public Education from the DPI...