Editorial: Teacher Pay Raises Were Too Small
The News and Records is out with an editorial criticizing the pay raises for teachers that the legislature passed this year. As they point out, new polling shows a clear majority think the raises were too small and for some veteran teachers, the raises were often less then 1%. From their editorial,
Better than nothing — but still not good enough.
That seems to be the message in a new High Point University/News & Record poll of voter attitudes about teacher pay in North Carolina.
In the new results, released Tuesday, a clear majority of likely voters in the state think the 7 percent raise for teachers passed during the summer by the North Carolina General Assembly is “too little.”
Specifically, 58 percent see the raise for public school teachers as less than it should have been. Only 29 percent see the raise as “just about right” and 6 percent view it as “too much.”
The poll suggests that public sentiment favors teachers, who have welcomed the increase, touted as “historic” by some Republican lawmakers, but still complain that the 7 percent figure is deceiving, since the actual amount depends on the individual teacher, and varies widely. The increase, which has been a major talking point in the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis, rewards newer teachers at the expense of classroom veterans, who will receive smaller increases. Those with 12 or more years of experience have seen raises between 2 and 10 percent. Those with 30 years, less than 1 percent. Even among respondents in the poll who identified themselves as Tillis supporters, 39 percent said the Republican-led raise should have been bigger.
To lawmakers’ credit, the raise is a start, and larger than the last one passed by the legislature, 1.2 percent, in 2012. But the new raise also came in the wake of disparaging rhetoric about teacher tenure and accountability, and a cynical proposal that would have forced some teachers to trade tenure for more pay. And it happened only after public pressure and protests forced state lawmakers’ hands.
Beyond the political implications, the poll suggests a greater appreciation among voters for public education and its critical importance to the economy and quality of life. After all, times are still tough.