Sen. Phil Berger is playing politician again. In this election year, he and his GOP comrades have ramped up their “strong talk” on their commitment to adequately fund public schools and pay teachers a comparable salary on the national level.
And part of his talk is defending himself against the vicious attacks from those who do not agree with his actions surrounding public education these past five-six years. His office stated this week when introducing measures to raise teacher pay,
“Democrats, teachers unions and liberal editorial boards have made teacher pay and school funding their political rallying cry since Republicans won control of the state House and Senate in 2010 – accusing the conservative majorities of starving public schools and short-changing educators. They often cite national union rankings that leave North Carolina in the low 40s in teacher pay.
But comparing even the current teacher salaries to the old plan Democrats left in the wake of a $2.5 billion budget deficit tells a different story. Over the past two years, legislative leaders and Governor McCrory partnered to pass a significant raise that lifted starting teacher pay from $30,000 to $35,000. The Senate plan announced Wednesday was an even more devastating blow to the liberal mindmeld – it could move North Carolina as many as 23 spots in the same teacher pay rankings.”
Ironically, this statement pretty much proves the politicizing of something that should never be politicized – public education. Words like “Democrats”, “unions”, “liberal”, and the Spock-inspired “mindmeld” are pointed diction. Blaming national union rankings that are considered to be the standard across the nation is funny when you claim your plan would be a success using the very same rankings. Talking about a budget deficit as if it did not happen to all states because of the Great Recession is generalizing a much more complicated issue. But it is expected.
So what is the actual plan?
A website appeared on the landscape this week that adds even more shade to an already shady proposition. Here is the home page for www.ncteacherraise.com. Notice it has the red, white, and blue of the American Flag or the colors of the new “America” Beer once known as Budweiser.
A few questions/concerns pop into my head when first looking at this patriotic website. The first is the banner at the top, “Attracting Excellent Teachers. Building Excellent Public Schools.” Nothing could be more antithetical to the truth.
In reality, it should say, “Spurning Excellent Teachers. Razing Excellent Public Schools.” Why? Because the very same NC GOP party that created this website also has done or enabled the following in the last three years:
- Allowed teacher pay to continue to drop when adjusted for inflation (http://www.wral.com/after-inflation-nc-teacher-pay-has-dropped-13-in-past-15-years/15624302/).
- Removed due process rights for new teachers to keep them from advocating loudly for students and schools.
- Removed graduate degree pay bumps for teachers entering the profession.
- Instituted a Value Added Measurement system and Standard 6, an amorphous and unproven way to measure teacher effectiveness.
- Pushed for merit pay when no evidence exists that it works.
- Attacks on teacher advocacy groups like NCAE.
- Created a revolving door of standardized tests that do not measure student growth.
- Lowered the amount of money spent per pupil in the state.
- Removed class size caps.
- Instituted a Jeb Bush style school grading system that is unfair and does nothing more than show how poverty affects public schools.
- Created an uncontrolled and unregulated system of vouchers called Opportunity Grants.
- Fostered charter school growth that has not improved the educational landscape and siphons money from the public school system.
- Created failing virtual schools outsourced to private industry.
- Allowed for an Achievement School District to be considered for legislation.
- Eliminated the Teaching Fellows Program.
- Created an atmosphere of disrespect for teachers that teaching candidate numbers in colleges and universities have dropped 30%.
The second and more glaring aspect of this website is the need for anyone to have to place a name, email, and zip code in the fields in order to get any information – information that should not have any strings attached to it in order to access it.
Why would anyone have to give personal information to hear about this? Well, I did with generic information. The zip code is the one for the NC General Assembly.
And I got this.
The first chart with the line graph simply says that a teacher in North Carolina will get to the maximum salary within 15 years of experience. But it is interesting to see how the proposed 2017-2018 salary looks inviting.
THAT’S BECAUSE ALL OF THE OTHER ONES ARE THAT BAD. When you have nothing to look at except horrible options and then you present an option that is a little less horrible, that last option will really stick out as amazing to many people. But it isn’t.
It still shows that the highest amount of salary a new teacher will ever make is 50,000. That’s terrible. As one sees his/her children grow and want to go to college, the amount of money being netted still amounts to the same. Not many teachers will appreciate making the same amount of money in year 30 as he/she did in year 15. And it totally negates that there is no longer longevity pay for veteran teachers, and no longer advanced degree pay or due process rights for new teachers.
Furthermore, it’s just a proposal. A fictitious line in the sand.
The second screen shot highlights some spun numbers and explanations of those numbers. Allow me to translate the information.
- $54,224 – New teacher average salary (including local supplements). This number is putting into account current teachers who do still have advanced degree pay and due process rights. They will retire first if they do not change professions. If the proposal shown in the first table is to go into effect, the average will go down over time as the top salary would be 50,000 for those who just entered or will enter the teaching profession. It’s hard to have an average salary over the highest amount given for a salary.
- $9,234 – Average teacher raise since 2013. First it shows how bad salaries were, but this number is truly aided by the fact that most of the raises since 2013 were for newer teachers. Veteran teachers like myself did not receive those raises. Teachers who are just starting out got them. And it does not count graduate degree pay that many veteran teachers receive in order to help them stay in the profession. Oh, and longevity pay? Gone, as teachers no longer get that. And there is also that word, “average,” which so many times does not even equate to “actual”.
- #1 – Projected teacher pay ranking in the southeast. I would imagine that other states have seen the lesson shown in NC that the NCGA has not learned yet. And that is other states will also keep raising teacher salaries to keep their schools filled. And there is another word used like “average” – it is “projected.” I will believe it when I see it.
- #24 – Projected teacher pay ranking in the nation. Remember those historic raises from 2013 that were supposed to launch us to the middle of the pack in the nation on teacher pay? That projection did not happen. We went from 42nd to …………….41st.
- 15 – Number of years it will take to earn a $50,000 salary. Number of years it will take after 15 years to make more than $50,000? Eternity.
- 33 – Number of years it took to reach $50,000 under the Democrats’ plan. Well, you have me there. No actually you don’t. Are we referring to the plan of the “Democrats” right before the Great Recession or right after it happened? Either way, the “Democrats’ plan” had longevity pay, due-process rights, advanced degree pay bumps, and kept the health benefits at a steady pace. Adding in those factors and you might see why teaching as a career in North Carolina back before 2013 was much more inviting than it is now.
- $198,650 – A teacher’s additional pay over a 30-year career. Again, misleading. First, the $50,000 salary cap at year 15 is designed to make sure that veteran teachers do not stay in the profession. Secondly, this projection is not taking into account that the current retirement system may change. Look at all of the changes that have occurred in only the last three years. Imagine what might be planned for the next thirty.
Maybe the saddest part about all of this is the time wasted in giving the NC Republican Party my name and email address to keep on file to repeatedly send me more spun rhetoric.
Actually, I didn’t give my real name. The one I supplied was fictitious.
Just like this proposed plan is.