Website ranks NC near bottom for teachers

Posted October 1, 2015
Updated October 2, 2015

— Although North Carolina ranks highly as a desirable place to live and start a business, a personal finance website says the state is a less than desirable for teachers to work.

WalletHub ranked North Carolina 50th, ahead of only West Virginia, in its Best and Worst States for Teachers study released this week.

Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for WalletHub, said the website creates such database studies to "help consumers and people in the workforce make the most educated financial decisions as possible."

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the census, the National Education Association and other WalletHub studies, the site compiled 13 measures into an overall ranking, Gonzalez said.

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North Carolina ranked very low in three areas: 43rd in teacher safety, which is determined by the number of teachers who say they were threatened by a student in the past year, 46th in per-pupil spending and 49th in teacher salary increases over the last decade.

"The 10-year change, I think, is the most alarming here, at just an increase of 10 percent over the last 10 years or so," Gonzalez said. "It’s clear that their salaries really aren’t keeping up with inflation. I think teachers can say that all over the country, but the rates at which North Carolina really hasn’t been increasing over the past 10 years is so much worse than all these other states that we’re seeing."

The General Assembly has pushed over the past two years to increase the starting salary for North Carolina teachers to $35,000, and other teachers received a raise last year, although it was a small one for some.

Democrats and education advocates wasted no time using the WalletHub ranking to criticize Republican legislative leaders.

"Let's be clear, this ranking should be laid at the feet of the politicians who have neglected our students," said Jessica Benton, a special-needs teacher at Millbrook Elementary School in Raleigh.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, say the study isn't credible because it uses data from the NEA, which leans left politically.

Gonzales said the NEA data, which accounts for five of the 13 measures included in the overall rankings, is not a valid reason to dismiss the study.

"Data isn't left or right," she said. "These are numbers. They don't lie. They don't skew one way or the other. They simply rack up depending on any other state here."


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  • Kristin Byrne Oct 2, 2015
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    I believe the starting salary for teachers was around $33,000 this year. If fast food employees are going to get $15/hour and that translates to $31,200, what's the point of spending the money on an education to become a teacher just to make a similar amount to that of someone in an unskilled position?

  • Jim Frei Oct 2, 2015
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    Its part of the GOP's continuing war on women. Most teachers are women, so the GOP could not care less about their salaries, professional development or work load.

  • John McCray Oct 2, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Welcome to the "new" feudalism.

  • John McCray Oct 2, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    And yes, the last five years have indeed seen education spending suffer at the hands of a myriad of budget excuses. Until we value education, we will have more waste. So far, the Republican Party's idea for a working economy is to give huge tax breaks and offer incentives to corporations that will come in and exploit a predominantly under educated workforce, import management, and generally leave the state in worse condition due to relaxed regulations. Poorly educated citizens lead to higher costs to all the "Social Net" spending programs that drain our economy so much. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a sound way to balance a budget, we need to get off the "reactionary rollercoaster."

  • Richard Eskridge Oct 2, 2015
    user avatar

    Unless you are willing drop everything and move...

    Seems to me that you just identified the solution. If your a teacher in NC with less than five years, move elsewhere.

    If your a math, science, or some other STEM-related discipline teacher in NC, thank you for your service.

    Education is such a wonderfully exploitable topic that is always mired in politics. Everybody wants more for teachers. Nobody wants to pay taxes for it.

    Nobody wants to pay taxes for anything. I don't blame 'em. Making money and keeping it is not easy. The age of computerized intelligence will be here soon. And, that is when the good jobs will become really scarce.

    The best solution is to not have children that have to plod through an outdated 18th century educational model. The American dream is being given its last rights by those who care about getting a better percentage on their investments. That is the Wall Street or American way after all.

    I haven't had my coffee yet. I need coffee.

  • John McCray Oct 2, 2015
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    So basically, this is more than just teacher salaries. We waste resources in the state and don't put a high enough value on education. Democrat or Republican, education is seen as the first thing to skimp on.

  • John McCray Oct 2, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Stop trying to spin this as party politics. This is obviously systemic and needs to be changed. The big raise you speak of, which was primarily given to those with the least amount of experience, only works if we can one, retain those teachers, and two continue to give them some sort of increased compensation for their experience. When the burden of the economic downturn hit in the end of 2007, it was managed mainly by seeing employees and education as the least important to our budget writers on Jones Street. We can point the finger at one party or another all we want, but the fact remains that the NCGA over the last ten years has been predominantly a 50/50 split, the biggest difference being the Senate which has been as high as 60/40. One thing to point out, in 2011, percentage of K-12 spending as part of the total NC spending budget dropped to 18.3%.

  • Paul Donovan Oct 2, 2015
    user avatar

    Well, when the Perdue and Easley administrations failed teachers miserably in terms of pay for their terms, the Republicans are trying to make up for it while trying to recover and pay back loans etc from the reckless spending and accrual of debt from those previous administrations. It will take time but we are heading in the right direction.

  • William James Oct 2, 2015
    user avatar

    Its all about leverage and teachers don't have any! Its not like they are going to strike, quit and go work somewhere else or change professions. They don't have a union. Plenty of other state employees are in the exact same situation, drastically underpaid but no where else to work, unless you are willing drop everything and move to another state. Hwy patrol, IT, and Trades are paid well and get overtime, but they can find jobs elsewhere and those who can't in rural areas are underpaid as well.

  • Jane Robinson Oct 2, 2015
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    NC has a shortage of teachers, and we can look at this report and understand! NC must value education!!!