Friday, September 18, 2015

NC Can't Get It Right

Hard to believe there was a time when North Carolina embarrassed the rest of the South by showing them how education could be done right. Now they just seem intent on embarrassing themselves.

North Carolina has finally settled their eleven-week budget standoff. Now, as a Pennsylvanian, I can't poke much fun at that. Our legislature's budget failures are practically annual rituals, and while North Carolina just keeps operating under the old budget terms, here in the Quaker State we let the wheels of government grind to a messy halt while our elected leaders sit around failing to fulfill their most basic responsibility.

But the budget always reflects the values of the state, and North Carolina's budget hammers home yet again their disinterest in supporting their school system and a firm commitment to driving teachers out of their state.

The legislators did bump up starting salary for teachers to $35K. This is perhaps better understood in the context of the NC state teacher salary scale.
          2014-2015                                                                 2013-2014

So on the left is where NC teachers were last year. It makes an interesting comparison to the previous year-- the new schedule has only six steps, so teachers get four years to slide backwards against inflation, until you hit twenty-five years, when you can just start drifting back forever. And am I reading this correctly-- did teachers with 33 years or more actually take a pay cut??

Of course, the real pay losses of the stalled steps would be offset by an increase in the whole scale, but that's not going to happen. Instead of a 2% raise for state employees, everyone gets a $750 bonus instead. So, peanuts for, as one writer put it, a tip. And you know the definition of bonus-- a pay benefit that your employer never has to give you ever again.

I have great admiration for the teachers trying to make a career in North Carolina. This sort of no-raise-for-you behavior has been the norm for too long down there, and the $750 tip is no more than a gesture, and not a very polite gesture at that. I expect that all across the state, many teachers would like to offer the legislature an impolite gesture of their own.

UPDATE: Courtesy of regular reader Anne Patrick, here's the new salary schedule


  1. NC is not alone in treating teachers like chattel. Here in IN step raises are illegal. Level of education and years of experience have basically been stripped out-don't bother getting your Master's.. The CBA must be renegotiated annually and only compensation and a grievance procedure are negotiable. Working conditions, from calendar to working hours to evaluation procedures are explicitly prohibited from inclusion in the CBA bargaining process, although some items must be "discussed" but not be enforceable as part of the agreement. Yeah. Discussed. Some things are illegal to discuss, such as teacher evaluation.

    Bargaining may only occur between 8/1 and 10/1, and a CBA must be ratified by 10/10 or state steps in with draconian mediation procedures which generally do not favor teachers. Teachers rated lower than "effective" are prohibited by law from receiving any increase in compensation.

    It is infuriating.

    Last year for being "effective" or "highly effective," I received a "bonus" amount about comparable to NC if you split out their step raises over each year instead of in 6-year increments.The one bright spot is the "bonus" is incorporated into base pay. I could go on, but life. I have no idea why we have openings 7 weeks into the school year (snark.)

  2. You are so right, sir, sadly. This NC teacher has 26 years in and will never see a raise again if this scale sticks. Great incentive to act as a mentor, leader, and professional. I soooooo appreciate the respect my state gives me.

  3. NC sealed their fate when then gave brand new teachers a raise to $35K and left me with my 11 years 6-12 mathematics experience and masters degree with a $44K pay rate for another 3 years. I know my school system next year in my new home that is unionized will pay me $15K more per year. I also know my students there will be much like my students here in NC. My wife and I both have reached the conclusion that NC politicians hate educators and it is time to move on