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Educators Want Equal Raises For All Teachers

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Teachers in North Carolina stand to get a hefty raise in the upcoming budget. On average, teachers would get about 8 percent more in their paychecks.

Newer teachers would see the biggest increases. While the more experienced educators are happy with the proposed raise, some teachers can't help but feel the formula is a bit lopsided.

"I think it kind of lets some teachers know they are not as valued as other teachers," said educator Patti Neptun.

The state House and Senate are both proposing a $2,250 per year raise for all teachers. Add that to the raise they already get for years of service, and a three-year veteran would get a 14 percent raise. But a teacher with 30 years or more would only get 6.9 percent more. The lower end is where Neptun falls.

"I do feel it should be 8 percent across the board; not an 8 percent average, but 8 percent across the board," she said.

It's all part of Gov. Mike Easley's plan to get teacher salaries in North Carolina closer to the national average. State officials and lawmakers have said that it makes the beginning salaries more attractive and it's an incentive to keep teachers who leave the profession early on.

"If we can keep teachers in the classroom three-plus years, those teachers will have a greater impact on learning," said Howard Lee, chairman of the state Board of Education.

Teachers understand the incentive. But they also understand the value of veterans.

"I mean, we learn from the veteran teachers," said educator Sara Bowens.

The teachers wish there was a way to make the incentives the same.

"I think those of us who've been teaching for a long time didn't have the benefit of these high salary increases in our early years," said Neptun. The raise proposal is getting bipartisan support, but it's not a done deal. The issue is currently in conference. In addition to the $2,250 raise, lawmakers may also pass one-time bonuses.

North Carolina ranks 23rd in the nation for teacher pay, according to a survey by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The AFT estimated last fall that teachers in North Carolina make an average of $43,000 per year. It ranked North Carolina 38th for beginner teacher pay with a starting salary of $27,500. The national average for teacher pay was estimated to be $46,600.


Kelcey Carlson, Reporter
Nathan Monroe, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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