House budget leaves teachers and students treading water

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Mt. Airy Superintendent sounds the alarm as lawmakers refuse to return teacher pay, classroom funding to pre-recession levels

The North Carolina House of Representatives’ proposed 2% pay increase for state employees would do very little to return North Carolina teacher pay to pre-recession levels, and would do absolutely nothing to change the state’s bottom-of-the-barrel rankings for classroom funding.

“Despite an expected $400 million budget surplus this year, the House budget shows that lawmakers are still beholden to the wrong priorities,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “North Carolina teacher pay is 42nd in the country, and a 2% increase would do almost nothing to change that. Many of our veteran teachers received raises as low as 0.25% last year, and this latest proposal leaves them barely treading water.”

When adjusted for inflation, nearly every teacher pay step in the House proposal is lower than before the recession. As lawmakers continue to short change our children by refusing to raise teacher pay to the national average, it’s no wonder why school districts in other states continue to hold job fairs in North Carolina to poach away our underpaid teachers. 

“If we don’t take steps right now, we are staring down what I consider to be the greatest teacher shortage in our state’s history in just the next few years,” Mt. Airy City Schools Superintendent Greg Little told WXII yesterday.

On top of North Carolina’s abysmal ranking for teacher pay, the state also ranks last in the Southeast -- and 46th overall -- for per-student education funding.

“Even South Carolina has a higher average teaching salary and per-student funding level than North Carolina,” added Brenner. “Our education system used to be the envy of the South, but the broken priorities of our lawmakers are turning it into a national joke. If we are to reverse the damage, lawmakers must show a meaningful commitment to raising teacher pay to the national average and returning classroom funding to pre-recession levels.”

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