The Absolute Fake Sincerity Of Phil Berger Concerning Teacher Raises – Remember What He Took Away

It’s hard to take Sen. Phil Berger’s gesture to raise teacher salaries and add on a bonus this past week as anything but sincere.

For someone who has been touting how he is so “pro-teacher,” he seems to want you to forget how much he has really taken away from teachers.

berger statement.PNG

Simply put, Sen. Berger has spent so much time trying to condition the public about how much has been done for teachers when in actuality what he is doing is simply giving back in smaller portions some of the very things he has helped to take away from teachers.

And he expects that to be forgotten as he tries to use smaller raises than the governor proposed to lure the public into thinking that he is being pro-public education?

A website appeared on the landscape in 2016 that expanded on Berger’s timeless BS and it is still being pushed out. Here is the home page for

And it a wonderful example of legislaining in eduspeak.


And with some red, white, & blue spin, he presented this:


But he fails to tell you he spearheaded a North Carolina General Assembly that took away graduate degree pay and due process rights from newer teachers and longevity pay from veteran teachers.

Below is the salary schedule for a teacher in North Carolina for the 2018-2019 school year. Because of the current stalemate in budget negotiations, it is currently the salary schedule for the 2019-2020 school year.


Any teacher new to the profession in the last four years would never be on the second schedule because newer teachers are not allowed a pay bump for graduate degrees. Notice how the salaries also plateau after year 15.

There is no longevity pay included as it does not exist for teachers any longer.

And remember that the average pay that people like Mark Johnson, Phil Berger, and Tim Moore like to brag about includes local supplements that the state is not responsible for.

Now go back ten years.



Ten years ago each salary step would have had an increase in pay.

All teachers, new and veteran, would have had graduate degree pay ten years ago.

All veteran teachers would have received longevity pay ten years ago above and beyond what the salary schedule said.

Yet Berger wants to tell you that what he is offering is beyond grandiose.

According to the 2008-2009 salary schedule, a person with my experience and credentials would be making more than someone with the same experience and credentials today – even with Berger’s new “proposal.”

And that doesn’t even being to help veteran teachers recover what they have lost since Berger has been in office.



7 thoughts on “The Absolute Fake Sincerity Of Phil Berger Concerning Teacher Raises – Remember What He Took Away

  1. It would take a 16% raise, plus longevity, to make my step today have the buying power it had in 2008. Even Cooper’s proposed raises don’t do enough to erase the fact that the great recession followed by a decade of GOP control has killed the profession.


  2. You of course picked the best possible year as your salary baseline, which greatly exaggerates the effect of the GOP budgets. In years 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12, there were NO increases in teacher pay, even though the General Assembly was under the control of your beloved Democratic party.

    Why don’t you compare current pay to the 2011-12 teacher pay scale? I think we both know the answer to that question. Fake sincerity, indeed.

    That being said, I do agree that teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. But stop making it a political, partisan issue. When we stop pointing fingers and start working together, perhaps we can actually come up with a solution.


    • It is political whether you like it or not. And those years of no increases? That Great Recession did quite a number on all states. And it’s hard to come up with a solution by working together when the current NCGA passes budgets without debate and amendments or refuses to call the vote on the veto override.


      • I’m well aware of the impact of the Great Recession on teachers’ salaries; clearly you are as well. You have in fact made my point.

        You deliberately chose the year prior to the recession to create a greater contrast, and blame the GOP for the contrast.

        No, I don’t like that it’s political. But I contend that it doesn’t have to be. All we need is real leadership.

        I am no fan of the so-called GOP “leadership” currently in place. But I see both major parties politicizing teacher pay, at the expense of our students.

        The GOP has made some very real improvements in teacher pay (try your analysis using 2011-12 as your base). I expect if a Democrat-controlled General Assembly had enacted the exact same improvements, they would be praised by the NCEA and teachers statewide. But the GOP has gotten only criticism.


      • I no more proved your point than you having made one. When teacher salaries from 2008 look more favorable than those salaries proposed today with all that has been “reformed” (like graduate degree pay, longevity, and due-process rights) coupled with the fact that the current GOP has had over eight years to make it “better,” then you are not making an argument. It’s just a baseless claim. If you want to make the comparison from 2011-2012, then go ahead. The variables I use are in the blog post. But you might want to make sure you look at what raises were actually given to which steps in those years. Veteran teachers were not given much. Looking at “average” raises is not looking at “actual” raises.


  3. I did indeed make a point, “whether you like it or not,” and my claim is not baseless. If you’re referring to my last couple of sentences as a baseless claim, that is clearly opinion, as indicated by “I expect.”

    Yet again you made my point by still citing 2008 in your most recent response. To most accurately see the impact of the GOP’s actions, it only makes sense to use the 2011-12 pay scale, and that is the last one not under GOP control. You clearly only used the 2008-2009 scale because it paints a much starker picture.

    From US News & World Report:

    “An NCAE news release also estimates North Carolina will move to 29th overall and 2nd in the Southeast when this school year ends, with an average salary of almost $54,000.

    The Republican-controlled legislature has approved teacher raises for five consecutive years. But Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and allies like NCAE have complained veteran teachers have been left behind.”

    So the NCAE does recognize that the GOP has made improvements in teacher pay. And the US News & World Report recognizes that the NCAE is an ally of our Democratic governor.

    You are correct that veteran teachers are not rewarded for longevity. That is concerning, but unfortunately, there are quite a few veteran teachers that have no business being in a classroom. I personally encountered several during my son’s education, and, in several years of serving as a PTA president, heard of many more.

    In the private sector, employees typically (but not always) get an annual increase. However, employees are also given an annual review to evaluate performance and effectiveness. Employees that do not contribute are not retained. But removing ineffective tenured teachers is difficult. And tools used to evaluate teacher effective need improving as well.

    Many teachers also blame the GOP for higher insurance premiums and reduced benefits. However, this is widely occurring in the private sector as well, and is more an indication of the current economic environment (just as the zero pay increases were in 2009-2012).

    My son is a teacher. Again, I agree that we do not pay teachers enough, nor do we provide sufficient benefits. We need to do better, but any changes must take students’ progress into consideration. Just as in the private sector, the most effective, successful teachers should be paid more. “One size fits all” salary increases provide no incentives. We must encourage excellence in our teachers, as well as in our students.

    How do we accurately measure student improvement and identify the most effective teachers? How do we identify and fairly treat those teachers that are no longer effective? How do we provide additional pay and benefits for teachers, but not for other state employees? How do we level out the local budget contributions when there is such disparity in local government budgets?

    The above questions need open, reasoned discussion. Unfortunately the only discussions taking place boil down to “it’s the other side’s fault.” It’s time to stop the childish finger-pointing and make some real progress. Our children deserve it.


    • Your original comment was about the distinction between the use of 2008-2009 as the comparison year and the 2011-2012 year when the first raises were given when talking about today’s teacher salaries.
      But now you’re talking about average teacher pay, the role of NCAE and its relationship with the governor, ineffective teachers, how to actually identify ineffective teachers, why we should compare public schools to the private sector, how to get rid of ineffective teachers, local budgetary contributions to schools, how to measure student progress, incentives for teachers, and your experience as a PTA President.

      First, I will concentrate on the 2008-2009 & 2011-2012 budgets and what they had for teachers. Yes, 2011-2012 saw what the GOP at the time called “historic” raises. But they were mostly given to the lower rungs of experience. A 10-15% raise for beginning teachers doesn’t take as much money as giving that same raise to all experience levels. But they wanted to claim an overall “average” raise.

      Below are the figures for my experience (year 22). I still lose money.

      Column #1 – Years Experience
      Column #2 – 2018 -2019 Salary
      Column #3 – 2011-2012 Salary`
      Column #4 – 2011-2012 Salary Adjusted For Inflation (CPI Inflation Calc.)
      Column #5 – Shortfall / to the good
      Column #6 – Lost Longevity Pay

      22 $50,000 $44,030 $49,826 $174 (+) $1619
      23 $50,000 $44,610 $50,482 -$482 $1640
      24 $50,000 $45,230 $51,184 -$1184 $1663
      25 $52,000 $45,840 $51,874 -$126(+) $2334
      26 $52,000 $46,500 $52,621 -$621 $2367
      27 $52,000 $47,140 $53,345 -$1345 $2400
      28 $52,000 $47,790 $54,081 -$2081 $2433
      29 $52,000 $48,450 $54,828 -$2828 $2467
      30 $52,000 $49,130 $55,597 -$3597 $2501
      31 $52,000 $49,840 $56,401 -$4401 $2538
      32 $52,000 $50,550 $57,204 -$5201 $2574
      33 $52,000 $51,530 $58,313 -$6313 $2624
      34 $52,000 $52,530 $59,445 -$7445 $2675

      More importantly, my retirement would be affected as well because the formula depends on the average of the last four years of service.
      31- 34 $52,000 (average) $51,112 (avg.) $57,840 (avg.) $5840 (less on 4 year average)
      $10411 (lost longevity pay)

      And there’s that longevity pay thing again.

      I went to year 34 because if a teacher is like me, then he would have to teach that long to be able to retire in the current system with full pension because I taught many years in another state and buying back years in the state system is quite expensive. In fact, I will still have to teach another 15 years in NC to have 30 years.

      As far as “average” teacher pay is concerned, that is a misleading figure because the same NCGA that gave those “raises” you refer to also took away graduate degree pay for new teachers in 2013. If you want to claim that the “almost 54K” average salary is set in stone, then you might need to look at the latest salary schedule and see how that 54K average would be sustained without current veteran teachers’ salaries. Here is an explanation:

      I am a member of NCAE and proud of it. That organization stands by Gov. Cooper because his budget proposal treats all teachers better than what the current GOP stalwarts have done in the last few years. And the figures that NAE releases each year on teacher pay is usually considered the most accurate.
      As far as ineffective teachers are concerned, due-process rights has already been taken away from newer teachers, but when you talk about how to measure the effectiveness of teachers, it seems that you are saying that we need to “get rid of ineffective teachers whose effectiveness we don’t really know how to measure.” Because you cited your experience as a PTA president and being a parent of a teacher, then I will cite my experience as a veteran teacher as well – ineffective teachers can and have been gotten rid of. It depends on strong school leadership (which you alluded to in another comment and I agree with).

      When you talk about measuring the public schools against the private sector, I believe you are not measuring apples to apples or even apples to oranges. Before someone asks others to compare public schools to the private sector, it might be better to look at the converse: look at running a business like public schools are run. Here is an exploration of that idea:

      And how exactly do we measure student progress or even school progress? For schools, NC has the School Performance Grades. We are the only state (out of 17) that uses a performance grading system which weighs achievement over growth. And the tests that show achievement? They seem to change every year and the conversion formula that cranks out the SPG’s is not really known to schools. Same thing for EVAAS.

      As far as student progress is concerned, are you talking about test scores, graduation rates, student achievement, or ? because those might be some of the most amorphous terms in education today (

      Local budgets? Well, there has been a rash of mandates that the state has placed on local systems when local systems have had no say such as the class size mandates. Look at the language in the Local Municipality Charter Bill or see how much money has to be given to state controlled charters by local LEA’s. The formula for funding public education is incredibly archaic in some places and cloudy in others. But to think that we as a state are still below pre-recession levels of per-pupil expenditures when adjusted for inflation is quite telling.

      And incentive pay / bonus pay / merit pay? Not a single one of those initiatives has ever worked (
      You are right; it is much more than teacher pay.

      There are so many variables that can be manipulated when it comes to dealing with public education and how the public views it. However, when a state needs to recruit teachers through programs like TeachNC and SB 599 while dealing with a shortage of candidates in our schools of education when we supposedly have this incredible state surplus, it is quite telling how much of a priority public education has been these last few years.

      You may say we have had raises each of these last few years, but they have not even begun to make up for what has been taken away.

      And if you think that people like Berger and Moore want to have “reasoned” discussions with teachers about public education, then I think you are mistaken.


Comments are closed.