NCGOP and the politics of teacher pay

pat sideRepublican leaders in Raleigh are hoping to make political gains by getting behind Gov. Pat McCrory’s call for a teacher pay raise:

Saying it was time to start showing respect to our teachers, Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday proposed increasing their base pay by $4,400 over the next two years.

Under the plan, which must be approved by the state legislature, teachers would see their base salary increase from $30,800 to $33,000 during the 2014-15 school year and $35,000 the following year.

“$30,800 is not enough to raise a family or pay off student debt,” McCrory said.


The plan also calls for extending the supplemental pay for teachers with master’s degrees to those who have completed coursework in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013. The legislature ended the supplement for a master’s degree in the last budget.

McCrory said 32,000 of the state’s 95,000 teachers will receive a raise under the proposal. Veteran teachers will not see the bump, though McCrory said the goal is to announce increases for more teachers and state employees as the “revenue picture becomes clear.”

He credited the salary increase to the hard decisions made by the GOP legislature, and blamed the lack of raises in the past on Medicaid cost overruns and government inefficiency.

Teacher salaries have been stagnant for years. Compression at the lower end of the salary schedule means that teachers in their fifth year make the same as teachers starting their first day of work, $30,800 a year.

The national average starting salary in 2012-13 was $36,141, according to the National Education Association. North Carolina’s beginning teacher salary is lower than surrounding states, and is near the bottom of national averages. The overall average salary of N.C. teachers is also below the national average.[…]

We’ve posted before about the folly of using this “national average” spin. The cost of doing business is different in different markets.  An apartment costs more in New York City than it does in Raleigh.  An apartment in Raleigh costs more than one in Southern Pines.

This whole “national average” thing was brain-child of former Gov. Jim Hunt, the capo di tutti of the Democrat establishment in The Tar Heel State, who McCrory has described as a “mentor, hero and friend.”  It’s no secret that the former Democrat governor and the current Republican governor have been doing some talking on education policy.  Has Tricky Jim sunk his claws into our rookie governor?

What happens when the national average keeps increasing. Do we keep throwing money into teacher salaries in order to keep up with this “national average”? 

I haven’t heard a whole lot about how we can afford this.  We were told we were going to have to cut unemployment benefits and other state services to pay back billions in debt to the federal government.  Are there plans to cut back on some other state spending in order to pay for this move?  Or are we once again providing a solution by throwing around money we don’t have? 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe K-12 teachers put up with some real nonsense for an abysmal pay check.  A friend of mine, whose daughter teaches at an area high school, says his daughter is required by educrats at DPI and the county central office and DPI to limit her lectures to ten minutes:

“She is required to stop talking after ten minutes and jump right into an activity.  These are not five year olds, mind you. We’re talking about high school kids here.  How is this mindset going to prepare these kids for college?  How many professors do you think lecture for ten minutes and then shift into arts and crafts?”

Another friend who teaches at the middle school level says she is frequently yanked out of class to attend some kind of educrat-inspired training or seminar or meeting:

“I am back and forth with the subs, or having one of my coworkers watch the kids.  It seems like the people at the central office and in Raleigh are experimenting with us like lab rats.  Why can’t they leave us alone and let us teach?”

DPI superintendent June Atkinson recently made headlines poo-pooing the idea of holding back kids who fail to perform competently and at their grade level. Consistently promoting kids through the system, in order to protect their self-esteem, is bad for society and harmful to the education process.  Those kids are not being adequately served.  Teachers in upper grades are being handicapped by students who really should have been held back for remedial training.

Wake County educrats seriously considered limiting the offenses for which troublemakers can be removed from the classroom.  No blood, no suspension. 

Increasing teacher pay is a hard thing to oppose.  It’s like opposing a pay raise for the troops or for cops.  Jim Hunt and the NCAE are interested in getting more money into teacher pay checks which, in turn, ends up NCAE coffers and then the treasury of the Democrat Party.

Republicans have an opportunity to address the fundamental screwiness that is public education.  A liveable wage is one piece of the puzzle.  How about a lot less educrat micromanagement and a lot more freedom for teachers to reach and inspire the kids they know a lot better than the folks in the central office or DPI HQ do?