Mark Johnson’s Recent Interview With WLOS – Translated

This past week WLOS out of Asheville interviewed Mark Johnsonon the recent attempt to pass a budget in North Carolina therefore leaving teacher raises in doubt. Take a listen if you can.


State School Superintendent Mark Johnson recently spoke to News 13 about the budget and recent protests surrounding it.

Johnson said he wants to assure teachers that the state is working to raise wages for them. However, Johnson said he does not agree with the walk-outs.

“We were in the 40’s national ranking for teacher pay,” Johnson said. “We’re now all the way up to 29 in just my time in my office. We’re second in the south. We’re making progress, but walking out of school and not having that instructional time for students, that’s just not something that I can support.”

What Johnson really said was “I will not rally with teachers for the sake of public schools” and “I am going to claim that we now 29th in the nation in teacher pay, but cannot for the life of me explain how our current salary plan could even maintain that.”

Concerning his words about teacher walkouts – lost instructional time can always be made up if Johnson ever fought for more calendar flexibility. Just ask those people who did not get back days of instruction due to hurricanes. Seemed the testing calendar was more important.

In fact, Johnson has rallied more for the school choice movement than for traditional public schools. He even took a school day and spoke at an annual school choice convention.

And his words about teacher pay?  The operative word here is “average.” What he purposefully fails 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.

The last eight 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 only makes it possible for a teacher to top out on the salary schedule with at a little over 53K per year.

So how can that be the average pay in NC be over 53K when no one can really make much over 53K 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. North Carolina is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgusted the former governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout this new wonderful “average.” And make no mistake, veteran teachers scare the hell out of Mark Johnson.

Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating insufficient funds to each central office of each school system for administrative costs while increasing state mandates. 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.

Johnson is just resting his rubber-stamping self on a baseless platitude and giving himself credit for it. Remember this is the same guy who once said:

johnson salary