Op-Ed: More Disdain for our School Teachers

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Chris Fitzsimon over at Policy Watch penned a great op-ed in the Robesonian about the continued disrespect of teachers from our state leaders. He highlights remarks in Gov. McCrory's State of the State address that reflect how out of touch McCrory is and how little he appreciates our teachers.

From the op-ed,

Despite all the platitudes from politicians, especially in election years, North Carolina does not value public school teachers, not really.

That’s not only the fault of the folks currently in power, state leaders have been telling that lie for a long time, though the crowd in charge for the last four years has certainly made things a lot worse.

Gov. Pat McCrory provided more evidence of that in remarks at a Wilson high school last week, though he didn’t mean to.

McCrory was there to praise the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology and told local civic and business leaders that the state needed to do much more to connect education with the development of marketable skills, which seems like a good idea.

McCrory said high school students need to know early what to concentrate on as they head to work or college.

“If you can convince a ninth grader that when I graduate,” McCrory said, “I have the chance to make $65,000 a year in a job, where in another profession after getting into a lot of debt, the starting salary is $25,000 to $30,000 a year.”

The current starting salary for a teacher is $33,000 and there aren’t many folks in the classroom making anywhere near $65,000, even after decades on the job.

The message to bright ninth graders couldn’t be clearer than that. Don’t be a teacher. You won’t ever make much money, not in North Carolina.

McCrory’s not the only one making the point. One of the job openings listed on the state government website is an Administrant Assistant I position at the Department of Agriculture. The entry-level job does not require a college degree and the hiring pay range is $30,800 to $38,800.

That means with any luck, the next administrative assistant at the department will make more than a starting teacher in North Carolina — a job that we are told is the among the most important in state.

McCrory and legislative leaders say they will fulfill their commitment to raise starting teacher pay to $35,000 — still in the middle of the range of what an entry-level administrative assistant makes — but they are already hinting that veteran teachers might not receive much of a raise for the second year in a row.

And of course the problem is not just about money. Roughly 700 schools across the state were branded with a grade of D or F last week when the state unveiled its first evaluation of schools under the new A-F grading system adopted by the General Assembly last session.

Eighty percent of the grade is based on student achievement and predictably almost all of the schools that received a D or F have a high percentage of low-income students.

Those schools and the teachers working hard every day at them have been publicly branded a failure thanks to legislative leaders, even though the teachers face problems that affluent schools rarely see, students who show up for class hungry, nursing an untreated toothache, or shoes that don’t fit.


  1. Jane M. Dagenhart's avatar
    Jane M. Dagenhart
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    I am a retired teacher with 35 years of experience. I wanted to teach three more years until I was 65; I loved my job. However, when I learned I would have to learn an entirely new teaching paradigm, spend 20 instructional days a year on testing instead of teaching, lose my longevity pay which I depended on to pay my property taxes, and never have another pay raise, I decided it made absolutely no sense to remain in the classroom. Many of my colleagues agreed. Our numbers were not counted in "teacher flight," but they certainly should have been.
  2. Matthew Clark's avatar
    Matthew Clark
    | Permalink
    The lowest paid and least valued full-time public educators in North Carolina are not in our public schools. They're in our community colleges and universities. <br /> <br /> Average salaries for full-time non-tenure line Teaching Faculty at Duke are between 50 and 55k per year. Their counterparts in Durham Public Schools with similar levels of experience and qualifications make more. Over half of Duke's full-time faculty are now non-tenure line Teaching Faculty. <br /> <br /> Full-time Lecturers in the CHASS at NCSU can expect to start out around 33k and top out at less than 50k even after a 35 year career. <br /> <br /> 80% of all faculty at Durham Tech are "part-time" and the typical wage is between 1300 and 2000 per course.<br /> <br /> It's time to wake up to these realities. Our education system from early childhood right up to the University of North Carolina... is broken.
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