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McCrory's math on teacher pay doesn't add up, NCAE says

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Some teachers are grumbling about their pay despite the governor's claim about bumps in teacher salaries.

Teacher pay has become one of the biggest political footballs of the governor's race.

Gov. Pat McCrory is taking credit for what he calls "the largest teacher salary increase in state history."

His opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, says otherwise. And, Wednesday, the state's teacher association gave the governor's math a failing grade.

The disagreement comes amid a flood of political ads airing on local airwaves.

"Under Governor McCrory's leadership, North Carolina teachers enjoyed the largest teacher pay increase in the country," one ad claims. In a YouTube video, McCrory says, "We have boosted teacher pay to more than $50,000." And in another ad, a woman playing a TV meteorologist says, "Our education barometer continues to go up with Pat McCrory as governor."

But teachers painted a much bleaker forecast outside the North Carolina Association of Educators headquarters in Raleigh.

On what was a pay day for many school districts, teacher after teacher with decades of experience said the governor's claims are bogus.

"Let me assure you, I am making well under $50,000 a year," said Hannah Bethea, a second-grade teacher in Franklin County with 11 years of experience.

"I was most disrespected today when I looked at my check stub; no raise!" said Paulette Jones-Levin, a Wake County high school teacher with 37 years of experience in the classroom.

The NCAE blasted the governor and the Republican-led legislature, claiming that they prioritized tax cuts for wealthier North Carolinians over public education.

Meantime, McCrory was in Clayton earlier Wednesday talking with teachers in a closed-door meeting. Reporters were told afterward that teacher salaries were discussed.

RELATED: MCCRORY PARTICIPATES IN EDUCATION ROUNDTABLE IN CLAYTON

And late Wednesday, the governor's education adviser pushed back on the NCAE's claims that the governor's $50,000 figure is based on bad math.

"We're fully confident that our facts bear out what's true," said Catherine Truitt. "My response to (the NCAE's claims) is, I would ask them, how much did your pay go up during the previous administration?"

The answer is, teacher salaries froze in 2009 in the midst of the great recession.

In 2012, McCrory's first year as governor, there was no raise. And pay hikes since then have bumped North Carolina teacher salaries up from 47th to 41st in the nation.

"The truth is, despite this election year raise, some of our most experienced educators have been getting short-changed for years," said Mark Jewell, president of the NCAE.

New national rankings for teacher pay won't be released before the election.

But the one thing all sides agree on, teachers in North Carolina still don't make enough.

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