Do Not Believe The Hype of #NCSuccessStory – Spinning a Narrative on NC’s Public Schools

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 rightly do not agree with his actions surrounding public education these past seven – eight years. His Twitter account is being very active with teacher pay propaganda:

ncsuccessstory

“In the last years under Democrats, thousands of state-funded teaching positions had been eliminated, teachers were furloughed and their pay was frozen. Since taking over in 2011, Republicans have focused on significant pay raises for teachers.   

It’s funny that Berger never mentions that in 2008 we had ourselves a bit of an economic downturn. No one party is immune from criticism, but it is interesting to point out that Berger and his minions really never point to the GREAT RECESSION. No one got raises in any government jobs. McCrory gave raises as state revenue started to gain momentum, but those raises came with a price.

And many teachers voted to furlough days back then – to save jobs for others.

A website appeared on the landscape in 2016 that expands on the Berger BS and it is being pushed out again for 2018. Here is the home page for www.ncteacherraise.com. Notice it has the red, white, and blue of the American Flag.

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A few questions/concerns arise when first looking at this patriotic website. The first is the banner at the top, “The Truth About NC’s Rising Teacher Salaries.” Nothing could be more antithetical to the truth. Why? Because the very same NC GOP party that created this website also has done or enabled the following in the last six years:

  • 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 which are 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 when adjusted for inflation.
  • 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 Innovation School District to be constructed.
  • Eliminated the Teaching Fellows Program and brought it back as a former shell of itself.
  • Created an atmosphere of disrespect for teachers that teaching candidate numbers in colleges and universities have dropped over 30%.

Look at the fine print at the bottom of that initial screen shot.

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It says, “This chart compares only state funded base teacher pay and does not account for other pay that generally increased overall teacher pay, including: longevity, performance bonuses, supplemental pay for National Board Certification and advanced degrees, local teacher supplements – which can be as much as an additional 24.5% of state base teacher pay, and a robust benefits package worth an average of $23,629.37 per teacher per year.

Read that fine print closely. Because it is spin.

  • WE DO NOT HAVE LONGEVITY ANY LONGER.
  • WE DO NOT OFFER ADVANCED DEGREE PAY TO TEACHERS HIRED AFTER 2014.
  • NOT ALL SYSTEMS OFFER LOCAL TEACHER SUPPLEMENTS. AND THE GOP IN RALEIGH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LOCAL SUPPLEMENTS! 
  • “AN ADDITIONAL %24.5?” REALLY? WHERE? FOR HOW MANY?
  • “AVERAGE $23,629.37 BENEFITS PACKAGE PER TEACHER PER YEAR?” PROVE IT.

Further along this website you see these:

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And this…

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The first chart with the line graph simply says that a teacher in North Carolina will get to the near maximum salary within 15 years of experience. So, what would veteran teachers have to look forward to after year 15? Not much.

It still shows that the highest amount of salary a new teacher will ever make is @ 52,000. 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 almost 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.

And it is comparing it to a plan that was made YEARS AGO.

The second screen shot highlights some spun numbers and explanations of those numbers. Allow for some translation of the information.

  1. $53,600 – 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 52,000 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.
  2. $8,600 – 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”.
  3. %19 – Average percentage pay increase since 2013.That is the most recycled, spun statement used by West Jones Street concerning public education in the last five years. And 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.” Again, those raises Berger refers to were 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 he mentions simply rolled that longevity money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise.
  4. $233,000 – Increase in lifetime earning potential of a North Carolina teacher since 2013. Misleading. First, the $52,000 salary cap 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 six years. Imagine what might be planned for the next thirty. Oh, no longevity pay.If Berger wants to make that claim, then he needs to explain this as well:
    1
  5. 5 – Number of consecutive teacher pay raises. Not for all. Refer to graph above.
  6. % 9.5 – Percentage pay increase that Governor Cooper vetoed. Actually, Gov. Cooper vetoed the entire budget, probably because lawmakers in power refused to listen to debate and hear amendments and passed the budget through a “nuclear” option. Cooper’s plan called for higher raises to be more evenly distributed across experience levels.
  7. 44,677 – Number of teachers who have received a pay raise of at least $10,000 under Republican leadership. Again, misleading. Republican leadership started when – 2013? Do you realize that much of that was financed by the removal of longevity pay from veteran teachers. That changes the numbers a lot if Berger would account for that. Again look at the graph above.
  8. $7,000 – Bonus available to third grade reading teachers whose students show the greatest growth in reading proficiency. What about first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade teachers? EC teachers? Kindergarten? Teacher assistants? Other vital staff and faculty?

A success story? Not.

All of that propaganda and we are still %16 behind the national teacher pay average (which it was last year as well), and we are spending less per pupil than we did before the recession adjusted for inflation.

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