When Tim Moore Says, “North Carolina’s Teacher Income is Rising Faster Than Any State in the Country Since 2014,” Then Consider This

Tim Moore

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore noted Monday that North Carolina’s teacher income is rising faster than any state in the country since 2014, according to available data.

Over the combined period of 2014, 2015 and 2016 budget years, North Carolina gave the largest percentage salary increase to teachers in the United States, according to the data currently available http://speakermoore.com/north-carolinas-teacher-income-rising-faster-than-any-state-since-2014/.

It is the most recycled, spun statement used by West Jones Street concerning public education in the last five years. Abd it barely has validity. Why? Because this fastest growing teacher income designation is only true when it pertains to “average.” It does not mean “actual.”

The following was stated by then senior advisor on education to Gov. Pat McCrory, Catherine Pruitt, from her op-ed on March 25th, 2016 on EdNC.org – (“The truth on education spending”).

“Teacher salary raises enacted in 2014 reversed the pay freezes that were enacted under Gov. Beverly Perdue shortly after she took office in 2009. In fact, the 7 percent increase in average teacher salary between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years was the largest teacher pay raise in the entire nation.”

It uses the same “average bear” fallacy.

Many have used the “Well, Gov. Perdue didn’t raise salaries for years. In fact, she made teachers take furlough days” argument.  First, Gov. Perdue and the NCGA at that time (2009) froze salaries and salary schedules because of the GREAT RECESSION. I think almost every business (in every state) froze their salaries; many even lowered them. Less money in people’s pockets, less money in state coffers. I, for one, was grateful to still have a job during that time. But ironically, why didn’t McCrory just reinstall the salary schedule that was in effect in 2008 when he came into office after Perdue if he helped to guide us out of the recession? I surely would be making a lot more than now.

And there is always that magic word – “average.” When Brenda Berg, CEO of Best NC made that same claim as a positive for NC, I responded with an explanation that has been made many times by many people. I stated in an August, 2015 open letter printed on EdNC.org (“A teacher weighs in on the war on public education”),

“The operative word here is “average.” Beginning teachers saw an average pay hike of over ten percent, yet the more years a teacher had, the less of a “raise” was given. The result was an AVERAGE hike of 6.9 percent, but it was not an even distribution. In fact, some veterans saw a reduction in annual pay because much of the “raise” was funded with what used to be longevity pay. And as a teacher who has been in North Carolina for these past ten years, I can with certainty tell you that my salary has not increased by 6.9 percent.

Those raises Moore refers to was funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Like an annual bonus, all state employees receive it—except, now, for teachers—as a reward for continued service. Yet the budget you mentioned simply rolled that longevity money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise. “

So, when people like Tim Moore pat themselves on the back about these “historic raises” in an election year just before a lot of public education advocates come to Raleigh to march and rally, then consider:

  • It was partly funded by longevity pay which teachers no longer receive. They are the only state employees who no longer get longevity.
  • If these raises have been so historic, why are NC teachers still %16 behind the national average salary?
  • Moore and others in current power seem to forget that there was a GREAT RECESSION in 2008.