Yes. This teacher wants a raise.
I think that we deserve more compensation for the job that we as public school teachers do, especially in light that we rank very low in teacher pay compared to the surrounding states (or even the nation).
Ever since the great recession hit and our pay scale was frozen by Raleigh, many teachers have had to reconsider staying in the profession or had to add another job to the fray to keep a standard of living that allowed us to raise families the way we wanted to. Some teachers have even moved to other states.
But more than a raise, I would say that what I really want as a veteran teacher is respect from the very state government that controls the very salary that I make. That’s because if a profession is respected, then those who seek its services are willing to pay a competitive market value to keep those services.
And North Carolina is not paying a competitive salary for its teachers. In fact, with the removal of graduate degree pay, frozen salary schedules, the implementation of a grading system that will always cast a negative light on public schools, and a reduction of money spent per pupil, the idea of gaining respect for the teaching profession from Raleigh is a wish I can only make to Santa Claus.
So when I hear the governor speak of raising salaries and offering bonuses, my ears become acutely sensitive. But then I realize the context of the remarks he made about his budget proposal and I see a clear motive for the governor’s pay plan.
HB2 has definitely take a toll on both North Carolina and the governor’s reputation. It is his face the rest of the nation sees in a press conference not defending his signing of the law. No one else in the General Assembly has really even publicly defended the law, except Sen. Phil Berger, and that really wasn’t a defense but rather a digging of his heels into the ground about his stance. No defense has even been heard from the primary sponsors of the bill: Representatives Bishop, Howard, Stam, and Bishop.
When the governor finally talked about HB2 on Meet the Press, he made mention that he has stood up against his GOP legislature when needed. He gave that air of someone who could “kick butt and take names” when it mattered most for the state of North Carolina.
Yet, his handful of vetoes in the last three years, an ability to kowtow to the state legislature and its GOP leadership, a refusal to answer questions publicly to our own state’s press, and his dropping poll numbers really show that he is not a “kick butt and take names” person, but more of a “kiss butt and save face” person.
Gov. McCrory needs teachers to vote for him because teachers are very hypervigilant when it comes to educational issues. And I believe teachers will show up to the polls in November. Everybody will. Look what’s happening in the presidential race. Who wouldn’t want to go to the conventions with all that is transpiring now?
When over 90 percent of the counties in North Carolina have the local school system as the largest or second largest employer, the need to reach teachers and convey sincerity is crucial in a reelection campaign. And the governor saying that he will propose raises and bonuses may seem more like a red herring to draw attention away from the HB2 fallout and his shabby handling of it.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported the governor’s brief outline for amending teacher pay. In the April 23, 2016 edition it ran an AP report that stated:
All current teachers with up to 24 years of experience — or 84 percent of the workforce — would get permanent raises next school year from $500 to $5,000. Teachers also would reach the top-scale salary of $50,000 sooner — in their 20th year, compared to 25 years today.
McCrory also wants to return to the previous expectation that most teachers will get a slight salary increase with each additional year on the job. Legislators changed the salary schedule in 2014 so experienced-based increases come every five years or so. School superintendents and administrators asked McCrory to seek annual step raises again for teachers, according to McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis.
Teachers currently at the top scale wouldn’t get a permanent raise but $5,000 bonuses, with $1,100 bonuses for the less experienced teachers. Previously, McCrory’s office said the permanent pay raises would cost $247 million annually and the bonuses would have a one-time cost of $165 million. The state’s projected $237 million surplus should help pay for these increases.
This veteran teacher’s wallet likes hearing that, but my gut says something different will actually happen. Why?
First, this is a governor whose administration has allowed the following to happen without a fight:
- The removal of the Teacher Fellows Program.
- The financing of failing charter schools.
- The implementation of Opportunity Grants.
- The implementation of a Jeb Bush public school grading system.
- The removal of longevity pay.
- The removal of a respected leader in Tom Ross and the hiring of Margaret Spellings, the architect of No Child Left Behind (No Child Left Untested).
- The refusal to expand Medicaid.
- The removal of tax deductions that many people used in order to make tax cuts affordable.
In other words, Gov. McCrory didn’t go against his own party and take a “kick butt and take names” attitude.
Secondly, that tax surplus that he intends to help pay for these raises should evaporate quickly considering the amount of money being lost from the state and local economies from national HB2 backlash.
If there was respect for the teaching profession in Raleigh throughout the governor’s administration, this conversation would never take place. But it has become a sort of shield for McCrory amidst the HB2 debacle. And now he seems to be mollifying teachers like a dead-beat dad who neglects his kids and tries buy their love with wonderful Christmas presents.
That’s just “kissing butt to save face” for a reelection bid.
And my ass doesn’t need to be kicked or kissed. It needs to be valued.
Now, back to Santa. I did ask him about getting some respect from our state legislature. And true to his nature, he did say that we can get this present earlier than December 25th.
It comes on November 8th when we are allowed to vote.