Poll Shows Most Voters Think The Teacher Raises Are Not Enough
A new poll from Elon University shows that a large majority of likely voters in North Carolina think the pay raises passed by the General Assembly for teachers were too small. Despite claims from politicians in Raleigh that they passed the "largest teacher pay raise in NC history," voters in North Carolina aren't buying it. 58% said the raises were too small, while just 35% said the raises were too much or just right. From the News and Record article about the poll,
Remember how state lawmakers patted themselves on the back for giving teachers a raise this year? North Carolinians think teachers deserved more.
A High Point University/News & Record Poll to be released today found that 58 percent of likely North Carolina voters think those 7 percent average raises for the state’s public school teachers are too small.
Six percent believe the raises were too big. About 29 percent say the increases are just about right. Eight percent declined to answer the question.
The telephone poll was conducted Sept. 13-18 by the High Point University Survey Research Center. Responses came from 410 likely voters across the state with landline telephones or cellphones. The poll has a margin of error of about plus or minus 5 percentage points.
The budget that Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law last month contained what Republican leaders touted as the largest-ever pay raise for state public school teachers.
This was teachers’ second raise since 2008. Their most recent, in 2012, boosted pay by 1.2 percent.
But the details proved to be devilish this time. Lawmakers put more state money toward teacher salaries, but they also recalibrated the salary scale that pays teachers based on their years of experience and college degrees.
Under this new scale, teachers with a bachelor’s degree are paid between $33,000 and $50,000 per year. Teachers with advanced degrees or national certification make more. Many school districts include additional monies, called a supplement.
The result was lopsided raises. Teachers with less than 5 years experience got raises of 7.1 percent. Teachers with between 5 and 11 years of experience got double-digit raises — as much as 18.5 percent in some cases.
But raises for many veteran teachers were significantly less. Those with 12 or more years of experience got raises between 2 and 10 percent. Those with 30 years in the classroom saw their paychecks grow by less than 1 percent.
The issue quickly became fodder for political advertising in the U.S. Senate race.
Republican Thom Tillis, speaker of the state House, touted the raises as “simple math” in political ads soon after the budget vote.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, said the raise wasn’t the largest in recent memory, much less in history, and pointed out that she was co-chairwoman of the state Senate’s budget committee in 2008 when all teachers got an 8 percent raise.
Voters have taken notice. The HPU Poll found that 87 percent of likely voters have heard something about teacher pay raises.
That’s not surprising, said Martin Kifer, director of the poll and an assistant professor of political science at HPU. In May, a HPU Poll found that education was the third-most-important issue to registered N.C. voters.
Education trailed only the economy and government ineffectiveness, and it was tied with the budget deficit and health care.
“The notable finding here,” Kifer said, “is that so many hold the view that in these tight budget times, the raise should be more.”
The HPU Poll found that women (62 percent) are more likely than men (53 percent) to say that teacher raises were too small. The same is true for African Americans (82 percent) versus whites (50 percent) and Democrats (74 percent) versus Republicans (46 percent).