North Carolina teacher pay rises; educators say figures are skewed

A report released by the National Education Association this week shows that the average teacher pay in North Carolina has increased by about $2,700 from last year.

The increase also bumped the state's regional and national rankings up, where it now sits second-best in the Southeast and 29th best in the country.

According to NEA, the average teacher salary in 2017-2018 was $51,231; in 2018-2019 it's $53,975. With that, the national rank jumped five spots.

Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger tweeted his satisfaction with the report writing, "The facts don't lie: Republican leadership has been great for teachers in NC. Under #NCGA Republicans, the NC average teacher salary increased to $53,975 and NC teacher salaries have risen at the 3rd highest rate in the entire country over the past 5 years."

Former Governor Pat McCrory, also a Republican, also shared his thoughts tweeting, "The day I was elected governor, N.C. teacher pay was 47th in the nation. I was proud to initiate and fulfill our promise to dramatically increase teacher pay after years of neglect. Congratulations to all who helped make this happen."

But North Carolina Educators Association President Mark Jewell believes the figures are skewed.

"Not everyone has gotten a pay raise. There have been certain tiers and steps but they haven't been fairly across the board, and that's why folks have been really struggling," Jewell explained early Thursday evening outside the NCAE Headquarters in downtown Raleigh.

Jewell said that the salary figures include bonuses, as well as supplemental funding provided by some local districts.

"Most of our experienced educators haven't received really a significant pay raise since the recession. When you compare it to other professions, with comparable college degrees, we are 62 cents to the dollar," said Jewell.

Instead, Jewell favors Governor Cooper's plan, which would restore pay increases and add extra money for those with a Master's Degree. Cooper devoted several minutes of his State of the State address last month to education efforts.

"We must encourage more of our very best high schoolers to choose teaching as a career. If they'll teach here for at least four years, North Carolina will pay for their college," Cooper said at the time.

According to the NEA, the national average teacher salary is just over $60,000. They added that teachers in most states have seen a pay decrease over the past decade when you factor in inflation, which is the case in North Carolina, where inflation-adjusted salaries dropped by 9.2 percent.

Last year, thousands of teachers and education supporters marched in downtown Raleigh, demanding increased teacher pay, more funding for school construction, and an increase in per-pupil spending.

In February, a report from the Department of Public Instruction showed fewer teachers were leaving North Carolina, with experienced teachers more likely to stay than newer ones.

Overall, statewide attrition rates dropped from 8.7 percent in 2016-2017 to 8.1 percent in 2017-2018.

To read more about attrition rates, click here.
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