New teacher pay plan falls short of what is needed

New teacher pay plan falls short of what is needed

Kevin Griffin

We can expect to see some changes coming relatively soon to education with N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory’s announcement Monday.

Unfortunately, this new teacher pay plan does little to actually address a problem that is critical for the quality of education in the state.

McCrory announced a plan to raise teacher starting pay by $4,400 over the next two years, according to WRAL.

Teacher pay has, for good reason, been a major topic of discussion in the debate over how the United States can improve education. Perhaps nowhere is that issue more pertinent than in North Carolina, which is ranked 49th in the country for average instructional pay in the 2011-12 school year, according to a National Education Association report.

The starting salary for most teachers is $30,000 a year, and teachers typically must work 15 years before earning $40,000, according to WRAL.

While it is good to see that some teachers will receive a raise, the plan is nowhere near what is needed to address the problem of teacher pay in the state.

As McCrory himself said, only 32,000 of the 95,000 teachers in the state will see the benefits of the proposal, according to the News & Observer. The more experienced teachers who do important work for the state will not get anything from this.

In introducing the policy, the governor spoke a great deal about the importance of investment in teachers, according to WRAL.

But this proposal shows little commitment to that objective.

Everyone understands that teaching in public schools is not going to be an incredibly lucrative profession, but we should not take advantage of the fact that teachers do what they do out of dedication to their profession by refusing to pay them reasonably.

As dedicated as teachers are, people are only capable of taking so much, and we are now seeing the consequences of undervaluing teachers in policy.

The teacher turnover rate had grown to 14.3 percent in the 2012-13 school year, compared to 12.1 percent in 2011-12, according to a December 2013 report by the Educator Effectiveness Division. Fifteen percent of that number claimed personal reasons for leaving the school system, reasons which could range from dissatisfaction in the profession to teachers deciding to leave the state for other teaching jobs.

Something clearly must change in how North Carolina pays its teachers, but the plan put forth by the governor misses the mark.

What is needed is a plan to allow all teachers in the state to see a financial gain, but the ideas for how such a plan would evolve are vague at the moment.

Kevin Griffin, a sophomore journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.