The Ignoramasaurus Rex – How Gov. McCrory’s Claim on Average Teacher Pay is Not Really Real

Governor McCrory recently signed off on the budget for the next year and as expected he did it in electioneering style. He went to an elementary school in Monroe and used the opportunity to highlight his “commitment” to teachers.

According to Katherine Peralta’s report in the Charlotte Observer (,

“Gov. Pat McCrory signed the state budget Thursday at a Union County elementary school, which provided a backdrop for his discussion about teacher pay and other education initiatives the budget will fund.

The Republican governor says the $22.34 billion budget includes an average 4.7 percent pay increase for teachers across the state, meaning that for the first time in state history, average pay will be more than $50,000 a year, including local supplements by counties.”

Whether every teacher receives this sizable raise is for another post. It is what is on the sign attached on the lectern says as well as what the sign behind the governor says that really catches my eye. It brags, “TEACHER PAY TO 50K.”

It’s got rhyme and meter to it, do you not think? There’s even a website for it, complete with a teacher endorsement. Go ahead- take a look at it. It’s called


There are nice tables talking about how average teacher pay has risen more than any other state under McCrory.

But there’s that word again – “average”. What the website neglects to tell you is that most of the raises have occurred at the very low rungs of the salary schedule. Of course, you can raise the salary of first year teachers by a few thousand dollars and it would give them an average raise of maybe 10-15%. You would only have to give veteran teachers a very small raise funded by longevity pay (which we no longer get) and the OVERALL average raise still looks good, and not much money has to be invested.

“Average” does not mean “actual”. Actually it’s like an average of the average. But it sounds great to those who don’t understand the math.

Oh, that extra billion spent on salaries touted on the website. That can be explained as well.

Of course there is more money spent on education now than in the past. North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the country. More people mean more students to educate. But it is interesting that the per-pupil expenditure under McCrory is lower than it was before the great recession, which is when everybody had their pay frozen like Mr. Gosey. That happened across the entire nation.

Furthermore, McCrory’s announcement is a whopping double standard and a total contradiction to what is really happening to average teacher pay. Just follow my logic and see if it makes sense.

The last four years have seen tremendous changes to teacher pay. For new teachers entering in the profession here in NC there is no longer any graduate degree pay bump, no more longevity pay (for anyone), and a changed salary schedule that makes it possible for a teacher to top out on the salary schedule within 15 years without really any raise for the last fifteen years until retirement.

And that top salary for new teachers is barely over 50K. So how can that be the average pay in NC be over 50K when no one can really make much over 50K as a new teacher in his/her entire career unless they all become nationally certified (which takes a monetary investment by the teacher to start)?

Easy. He is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgust the governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout the governor’s bold statement.

Furthermore, the governor is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of a budget that is allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements.

Any veteran teacher who is making above 50K based on seniority, graduate pay, and national boards are gladly counted in this figure. It simply drives up the CURRENT average pay. But when these veteran teachers who have seniority, graduate pay, and possibly national certification retire (and many are doing that early at 25 years), then the very people who seem to be a “burden” on the educational budget leave the system.

In actuality, that would drive the average salary down as time goes on. If the top salary that any teacher could make is barely over 50K (some will have higher as National Board Certified Teachers, but not a high percentage), then how can you really tout that average salaries will be higher?

You can if you are only talking about the right here and right now.

The “average bear” can turn into a bigger creature if allowed to be mutated by election year propaganda. That creature is actually a monster called the “Ignoramasaurus Rex” known for its loud roar but really short arms that keep it from having far reaching consequences.

Remember the word “average” is a very easy word to manipulate. Politicians use it well. In this case, the very teachers who are driving the “average” salary up are the very people that the state wants to not have in a few years. There will then be a new average. It can’t possibly be over 50K then if current trends keep going.

Unless, Sen. Tillman introduces a new math track in schools that allows those numbers to add up to what he wants them to be.

11 thoughts on “The Ignoramasaurus Rex – How Gov. McCrory’s Claim on Average Teacher Pay is Not Really Real

  1. Well done. Question -is the state education budget fungible? That’s important, because I keep hearing people ask about the “nc education lottery.”
    But from my understanding, the lottery dollars go into the education budget, and other dollars get pulled out for other things. Am I understanding that right?



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