Teachers press case for raises

Posted May 14, 2014

— As state lawmakers returned to Raleigh on Wednesday to open their 2014 session, teachers rallied nearby to keep the focus on raises that Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders have promised in recent months.

"The education policies right now for our state are heading in the wrong direction, and it's impacting our teachers, our kids and our state," said Justin Ashley, who took the day off from teaching fourth-grade social studies at McAlpine Elementary School in Charlotte to take part in the demonstration.

McCrory and lawmakers have devised a plan to boost starting teacher salaries to $35,000 within two years and to give other teachers an average 2 percent raise this year. Despite a tight budget, they have vowed that the raises will be part of a final spending plan for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

"In our budget, our base proposal is staying in there," McCrory said Wednesday as he unveiled his proposed $21 billion budget.

Teachers said, however, that it's not enough. The North Carolina Association of Educators want lawmakers to lift salaries and per-pupil funding to national averages. North Carolina ranks near the bottom nationwide in both measures.

Scores of teachers wearing shirts that said "I (Heart) Public Schools" marched to the State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, where they dropped off cookies and personal pleas at McCrory's office. The cookies signaled that the governor's proposal needs to be sweeter, but they also harkened back to an episode last summer when McCrory presented protesters outside the Executive Mansion with a plate of cookies.

Earlier in the day, they dropped off stacks of petitions at lawmakers' offices.

"Everybody needs a living wage," said Dawn Moretz, a Union County teacher. "They need to go back to the salary schedule that they haven't kept up with for the last six years. I've kept my end of the contract. They haven't."

The NCAE also wants teachers paid more for earning advanced degrees and the repeal of a law ending the tenure rights of veteran teachers and another law that created a private school voucher program.

"Our students deserve better, our parents deserve better, educators deserve better and North Carolina can do better," NCAE President Rodney Ellis said.

Legislative leaders said they're confident all teachers will see a raise, but reaching the national average will take some time.

"We'll get there quickly on the new teacher hires. I think we'll be there within two to four years – the national average of new hires," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. "Moving forward, we want to get other teachers up."

In the coming days, Apodaca said, a bill will be filed that mandates that 51 percent of school funding go to teacher salaries. He said that's up from 47 to 48 percent.

"I think you'll see some changes, but you're not going to see a totally, you're not going to see a sweep, but we are going to move forward and try to be as fair as possible," he said.

For Ashley, North Carolina's history teacher of the year, any raise might come too late. He's already looking for teaching jobs in South Carolina, where salaries are higher.

"It's time for me to make a move because it's in the best interest of my family," he said. "No offers yet, but we're in the process of doing the paperwork and moving forward. So, we'll see."


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  • dahill001 May 19, 2014

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    Why don't you google it and get back to us, unless you intended your comment to be vapid and empty.

  • Dee Sides May 15, 2014
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    Since schools are built using bond money voted in by the public, what is the $3 billion from the NC Lottery designated for? Teachers and children are working out of ancient textbooks since 2004. Where is that money going? Not to education.....

  • wayneboyd May 15, 2014

    Not knocking their effort, intended, but looks like they have ample money for food.

  • Itsmyopinion67 May 15, 2014

    Teachers should get in to the fast food industry. Those people are about to get 15 dollars an hour! Holla!

  • goldenosprey May 15, 2014

    Teachers make more in South Carolina than here? That is a disgrace. The NCGA should be ashamed we appreciate education even less than SC.

  • Greg Boop May 15, 2014
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    Don't confuse politicians like McCrory making promises about pay in a proposed budget (which the state assembly leaders do not support at all) with the reality of getting a pay raise.

  • Greg Boop May 15, 2014
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    Over 90% of community college faculty positions are part time and not full time. Should you get full time pay for working under 20 hours per week?

  • Greg Boop May 15, 2014
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    The issue is that many teachers are moving to neighboring states like S.C and Virginia where the salaries are over $10K more per year. This includes our best and brightest university graduates with education degrees from North Carolina universities.

    There are not thousands of qualified teachers in line for jobs in our states. Administrators are having a difficult time filling open teaching positions currently as a record number of teachers have left mid-year. A simple search of the county and state education hiring sites will show thousands of vacant positions that school districts have been unable to fill for months.

  • ksncsu May 15, 2014

    28 hours of testing in 9 days

  • ksncsu May 15, 2014

    Cut out half of the unnecessary testing and that will fund a raise. My children take 7 state tests in 9 days. Approximately 28 for a middle school student in the last 9 days of school. Does the public know how much money is spent on testing?