Do Not Believe Berger’s Hype of the NC Success Story – He’s Still Spinning a Narrative on NC’s Public Schools

Today Sen. Phil Berger issued a press release in which he is bragging about his devotion to teacher pay.

He starts:

Beginning in 2014 when they provided teachers the largest raise in the country, legislative Republicans have taken historic steps to raise educator pay in North Carolina. In the last five years, Republicans have enacted five consecutive pay raises, and teacher salary increases have been at or near the highest in the nation for three of those years.
The average base salary for a teacher in North Carolina increased by $8,700, or nearly 20 percent, since the 2014 school year. More than 40,000 teachers – close to half of all public school teachers in the state – will have received at least a $10,000 pay raise by the 2018-19 school year. In fact, over a 30-year career, a teacher will earn $237,200 more on the 2018-19 salary schedule than he or she would have earned under the old Democrat plan.
The most recently passed budget provided a 6.5-percent pay raise for teachers, the largest pay increase since 2014, and also allocated nearly $12 million to provide a permanent salary increase to veteran teachers with more than 25 years of experience. According to the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Fiscal Research Division, the average teacher salary for the 2018-19 school year will be roughly $53,700.
In addition to the teacher pay raises, the 2018 budget also included significant raises for principals. It built upon changes made in 2017 when the General Assembly reformed the archaic, confusing principal salary schedule by providing principals a 6.9-percent increase, bringing the total base pay raise to 13.1 percent since 2016-17. The budget also funded performance bonuses of up to $20,000 for principals whose students achieve the most academic growth.

It’s funny that he never mentioned that:

  • WE DO NOT HAVE LONGEVITY ANY LONGER.
  • WE DO NOT OFFER ADVANCED DEGREE PAY TO TEACHERS HIRED AFTER 2014.
  • THAT AVERAGE TEACHER SALARY INCLUDES LOCAL SUPPLEMENTS AND NOT ALL SYSTEMS OFFER LOCAL TEACHER SUPPLEMENTS. AND THE GOP IN RALEIGH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LOCAL SUPPLEMENTS! 

And the current teacher salary schedule shows that 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.

The rest of the press release has these “Key Facts” on teacher pay. Rather, it they are more like cherry-picked spin items.

  • “In 2018, North Carolina public school teachers received a fifth consecutive pay raise.” Not for all. Refer to graph below.

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  • The average teacher pay raise from 2013-2019 will be approximately $8,700, a 19.3 percent increase. 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”.
  • “A teacher with five years of experience will earn $9,200 more in base pay in 2018-19 than they did in 2013-14 – from $30,800 to $40,000. That’s a 29.9 percent increase.” True, but that teacher will never get graduate degree pay or longevity pay which was taken away to help produce this top heavy salary schedule. Also, look at the latest salary schedule.
    salary
    According to that schedule, that same teacher will never receive an increase of more than $12,000. For the rest of their careers.
  • “A teacher with twelve years of experience will earn $15,330 more in base pay in 2018-19 than they did in 2013-14 – from $31,670 to $47,000. That’s a 48 percent increase.” And in the next twelve years according to the salary schedule, that teacher will only make $5,000 more in base pay. Without longevity.
  • “A teacher with sixteen years of experience will earn $12,890 more in base pay in 2018-19 than they did in 2013-14 – from $37,110 to $50,000. That’s a 34.7 percent increase.” And in the next sixteen years according to the salary schedule, that teacher will only make $2,000 more in base pay. Without longevity.
  • “A teacher with twenty-five years of experience will earn $9,740 more in base pay in 2018-19 than they did in 2013-14 – from $42,260 to $52,000. That’s a 23 percent increase.” And according to the salary schedule, that teacher will always make $the same in base pay. Without longevity.
  • “Close to half of all public school teachers in the state will receive at least a $10,000 pay raise compared to 2014 by the 2018-19 school year.” 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.

Go back to that original data table that chronicles the changes in teacher pay over the years with longevity pay compared to the salary table that we had in 2008-09. There’s a hell of a lot of red in there.
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In fact, Berger doesn’t have the guts to even think about explaining that.

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.

A success story? Not.