North Carolina’s poor record on teacher salaries has become a popular punching bag for political leaders this year. It would be nice if the politicians would stop huffing and puffing and start finding a means to address the issue.
On average, North Carolina teachers rank 46th in the country in salaries, according to the National Education Association. They have received just one raise in the past five years – a tiny 1.2 percent increase. Teachers in the state’s larger school systems fare a little better, thanks to supplements approved at the local level. But if state leaders are serious about improving education, they should be willing to invest more in the people who are directly responsible for teaching our kids.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said as much last month, challenging North Carolina to make teachers here the highest paid in the nation. Forest’s thoughts seem hopelessly unrealistic, given the economic realities of Raleigh, but it’s a nice ideal.
John Tate, a longtime member of the N.C. Board of Education echoed a more practical goal last week when he proposed a resolution calling on the N.C. General Assembly to raise state teacher salaries to match the national average.
The state actually mirrored that average as recently as the late 1990s.
Without adequate compensation, we are losing our best and brightest educators to states where teaching is a more valued commodity.
Tate’s proposal was ruled out of order by Chairman Bill Cobey, but Cobey said it could be considered at a later meeting. Here’s hoping the board will follow up on that modest proposal and that North Carolina lawmakers will listen.
Poor pay does nothing to attract the kind of talent we all want to see in classrooms. And it hurts the reputation of our quality of life.
North Carolina can do better.