The following article was written by State Budget Director Lee Roberts in response to an editorial that appeared in the Charlotte Observer earlier this month:
Regarding the Dec. 16 editorial “Time to pay North Carolina’s teachers the market rate” reprinted from The Charlotte Observer: The facts show clearly that, far from cutting spending, the governor has won significant pay increases for teachers, raises that generally have been unmatched in either the private or public sector.
Since Gov. Pat McCrory took office, more than $1 billion in new funding has been appropriated for teacher raises through his first term – more than $1 billion. Indeed, according to the National Education Association, the percentage increase in North Carolina teacher salaries from the 2013-14 to 2014-15 school year was the largest in the nation. Moreover, the budget the governor signed this September continues to invest in teacher pay over the next two fiscal years.
Compare this to the record of the previous administration, when funding for North Carolina teachers fell off a cliff. Before the 2013-14 pay raise, teachers had no meaningful pay increase for five years. That led McCrory to make increasing teacher pay one of his highest priorities, and he’s delivering on that commitment. These investments raised starting salaries to a minimum of $35,000 and increased the state’s average teacher salary to $47,783.
In addition, the state’s investment in employee benefits is also rising, meaning the average teacher will receive over $15,600 in benefits during the current school year. That means the average teacher will receive total compensation worth well over $60,000 for a 10-month contract, or about $5,000 per year more than last year.
It is a misrepresentation, therefore, for the Charlotte Observer to write that most teachers “made do with a measly $750 one-time bonus” in the 2015-17 state budget. The truth is, teachers are getting $750 in addition to the pay increases just outlined.
While there is still room for improvement, McCrory and the General Assembly have made major investments in teacher pay and benefits during the past three years, especially when compared with the previous administration. It is time to look past the talking points, consider the facts and set the record straight on teacher pay under McCrory’s leadership.
Lee H. Roberts
Office Of State Budget and Management
Senior Education Advisor To Gov. Pat McCrory