Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Dan Forest joined Governor Pat McCrory, Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger, and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis in Jamestown, North Carolina to announce their intentions to raise the starting salary for entrylevel teachers in North Carolina.
"It's a new morning for education in North Carolina. One that brings together the top leaders of our state to address one of the most pressing issues we face, teacher pay," said Lt. Governor Dan Forest. “This is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin.
“The demands on teachers are only going to increase as we move forward with proposed educational reform programs. It has been my experience that any program is only as good as the people who are implementing it. By increasing teacher pay for entry level teachers our state is making an effort to attract the “best and brightest” and in doing so, we are making a sound investment in our students.”
This new plan will increase starting teacher pay by $2,200 this year and by an additional $2,000 the following year. Funding for the proposed raises will come from additional and available revenues and will not require a tax increase. These two raises combined equal an almost 14 percent increase in starting pay for entry level teacher in North Carolina.
Governor McCrory, Lt. Governor Dan Forest, Senate Pro Tem Berger, and Speaker Tillis were clear in stating that raising teacher pay is an important first step for education reform in North Carolina.
“Regardless of political affiliation, we all strive to provide the best education in the world to students right here in North Carolina,” said Forest. “Why would we dream of less? Why would we stop short of that goal?" And this unified strategy in increasing the starting pay for entry level teachers by almost 14 percent is the first significant step towards achieving that stated goal. With additional increases in revenue, and as the costs of the Medicaid entitlement become clearer, state leaders intend to announce pay increases for more teachers and state employees.
Baldwin noted that not only are the entry-level raises being increased, but the talk of teacher salary is encouraging for all teachers in the state. “It is also encouraging that Lt. Gov. Forest indicates that all teachers can expect a raise, and I am also hopeful that the Macon County School system can expect our full state appropriation for teacher assistants, classroom materials and textbooks after several years of underfunding,” said Dr. Baldwin.
Some state legislators showed opposition to the proposal citing that the plan acknowledged entry-level teachers, and while it is a good plan for recruiting talent, more needs to be done on the backend for teacher retention. “This Republican plan only offers a pay raise to a select few teachers at a time when all teachers in North Carolina deserve a raise,” said House Representative Larry Hall. “The plan does not raise teacher pay to the national average, does make teacher pay in N.C. competitive with other states – like Virginia – that are luring teachers away and does not offer a plan that will prepare our students for the modern workforce.”