Experienced Teachers Under Fire From The General Assembly
WUNC reports on veteran teachers in North Carolina who feel disrespected by the General Assembly's actions. For many of our most experienced teachers, their raise this year is less than 2% and for Chuck Hennessee, a teacher at Culbreth Middle School with 29 years of experience, the raise is just 0.3%. From their article,
“I am a better teacher in my 29th year now than I was in my 25th and much better than I was in my 20th, my tenth, and it doesn’t even compare to my fifth and first year,” says Hennessee.
For many of those years as a teacher in Wake, Durham, and now Chapel Hill, Hennessee has supplemented his income by working as a bus driver, a furniture salesman, even as a bartender. Now, as he closes in on 30 years as a teacher, he has a base salary of $50,000, not counting the local supplement, the stipend he gets for coaching volleyball, and master’s pay.
This year, he got a 0.3 percent raise from the state, the lowest possible on the new teacher salary schedule.
“It is not even with the cost of living,” says Hennessee. “It’s not where my pay grade should be. And it’s a real insult to me as a professional.”
One of the reasons for the smaller raises for experienced teachers is longevity pay. It’s a bonus for most state employees that kicks in after ten years on the job, and goes up every five years.
The emphasis on newer teachers is starting to show up in schools. In 2013, 27 percent of teachers had five years or less experience. On the other end of the scale, just 15 percent of teachers had more than 25 years on the job.
If that balance tips too much it can create a problem within a school.
“You have to have some people who have institutional knowledge,” says Michael Maher, the Assistant Dean for Professional Education and Accreditation in the School of Education at NC State. “You have to have people who have been through curricular changes to help these young folks weather those storms, and veterans have a sense of the community. And communities matter. The community of the school, leadership matters. I really can’t overstate how importance of the community in a school.”