North Carolina teachers getting pay raise, but NCAE official says not true
WORLD / North Carolina, U.S. – The government finalised a $21 billion budget plan for government services, healthcare and education on 2nd August.
ABC News reported that the state House voted 66-44 for final approval of a budget that raises pay for public school teachers by an average of 7 percent, but trims millions of dollars from programs including public health, childhood development and early education.
Budget plans for education
The budget plans to, among other implementations:
- Raise public school teacher salary by an average of 7 percent at a cost of $282 million
- Give most other state employees a $1,000 pay raise and five extra vacation days
- Reduce class sizes in kindergarten to 18 children per teacher
- Reduce class sizes to 17 students per teacher in first grade
- Preserve the jobs of classroom teaching assistants in early grades.
- Eliminate funding for the Teaching Fellows program, which gives college scholarships to students in exchange for working as educators.
- Direct public schools to stock epinephrine injectors, commonly known as EpiPens, to treat someone suffering from an extreme allergic reaction.
- Set up an education endowment fund which can collect donations from corporations and people who want to increase teacher pay.
- Provide $840,000 to expand Opportunity Scholarship Grants, the voucher program for students to attend private or religious schools.
- Help military veterans and their dependents cover tuition at community colleges and University of North Carolina schools
Teacher pay raise just a smokescreen?
The biggest headline from the budget for education for the 7% increase in teacher pay, which is touted as a substantial raise. However, an NCAE official believe the details in the arrangement would shortchange teachers instead. As reported by Robesonian, Mark Jewell, vice president for the North Carolina Association of Educators, met with Robeson County NCAE members on Friday to discuss the budget plan.
Jewell stated the government is offering raises, but taking away teacher longevity pay, which he said has been “rolled into” the raises, meaning the 7 percent increase is only a 7 percent increase for teachers who are just starting their careers. When compared to what teachers would receive with their longevity increases, for some it would be a pay cut.
Longevity pay is an annual lump sum payment based on an employee’s salary and total state service. Longevity pay is paid to employees with at least 10 years of permanent employment. More information can be found here.
“I can use my own pay as an example,” said Teressa Davis, president of the Robeson County Association of Educators. “As someone who has worked as a teacher for 30 years now, under this new pay system I would be making $50,000 a year, but with no changes and my longevity intact, I am making $50,536. That is a loss of $536, and they want us to be thanking them for our raise.”
Show me the money
According to the NY Times, low teacher pay has become an embarrassment in North Carolina, a state proud of its commitment to quality public education. But finding the money for the raises has been particularly vexing since last year, when Republican lawmakers, who hold full control of state government for the first time since Reconstruction, approved sweeping tax changes, including an income-tax cut that is expected to reduce state revenue by $680 million this year, according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Services Office.
Late in 2013, a petition was set up on Change.org to Gov. Pat McCrory to improve the salary of North Carolina teachers. About 25,000 signatures were gathered online.