This past April it was reported that NC had fallen to 33rd in the country for teacher pay.
The process that NEA uses to figure teacher pay in this report is not as fluid as one might think. Too many states provide differing data and then it has to be normalized against other data when it hardly seems possible.
But it’s that “two years without raises” thing that is the topic of this post and what Sen. Berger’s spokesperson, Pat Ryan, said about it at the time. It’s an argumen that is being used again with this summer’s budget talks.
Actually, it ain’t that simple, Pat.
NCGA GOP stalwarts like Sen. Berger’s spokeperson are trying to frame the narrative that Gov. Cooper and NCGA Senate Democrats placed teachers on the chopping block because they upheld a veto on what was presented as a 3.9% average raise in teacher salaries a couple of years ago.
And that narrative is a gross misinterpretation of the reality.
On the surface, what Berger & Co. are presenting to the public is that teachers were to get a 3.9% average raise.
But many people forget that when budgets are written for the state, they are biennial budgets: two-year budgets. When teachers are said to be getting a 3.9% pay raise in “this budget,” it means it is over a two-year period. That “full” raise is not occurring immediately. Plus, any budget can be amended in a future session to offset anything passed in this past summer.
Now, consider this when that “raise” was first presented a couple of years ago:
Step increases based on seniority according to that tweet above were also part of the “raises.” The issue is that those step increases had already passed in a mini-budget bill in the fall of 2019.
Lawmakers in the Senate Thursday passed what’s known as step increases for teachers.
It’s basically a bonus. For each year you’ve been a teacher, you’ll get about a $100 step increase up until a certain point but some are worried it’s not enough.
Lawmakers have been passing these ‘mini budgets’ since Governor Cooper vetoed the full budget, months ago.
That makes that whole narrative of leaving a 3.9% raise on the table even more misleading.
What Cooper and Senate Democrats vetoed was based on the last graphic there.
Actually that bill was this one – Senate Bill 354.
That bill would have put the following salary schedule in place for teachers.
It would have replaced this salary schedule.
The problem is that there is not much of a difference. In fact, it would only affect teachers with 16+ years and even then, not much at all. Just look at the comparison.
What that translates to is a monthly increase of $50 for all teachers with 16-20 years of experience.
150$/month for teachers with 21-24 years of experience.
$60/month for teachers with 25+ years.
But look at it in this manner – Why? Because it is important to note that the number of veteran teachers in North Carolina has gone down in the last few years – especially when the current NCGA powers who are currently bragging about what SB354 was offering.
Kristin Beller, the president of the Wake County Association of Educators and a champion in public school advocacy, “ran” these numbers concerning the proposed raises in SB354 against the current numbers of teachers in the state (those numbers can be found here).
The first part concerns the numbers of teachers in the state broken down by experience.
Then she added numbers in the categories defined by SB354’s compensation ranges and showed the percentage of those groups as part of the entire teacher workforce.
Then she multiplied the number of teachers in each rung that would get a raise by the actual monthly raise defined by SB354 and then added those products together. That sum is the amount of overall money given to the raises.
Since the graphic near the beginning of the post “represents” the entire teaching profession getting an average “%3.9” raise, then it means that every teacher should have gotten something. Right?
Furthermore, if you divide the sum of money to be used in the raises by the number of teachers in the state, you get… less than $33/month.
And yes, that bill had “raises” for the following year.
It does the exact same thing as the 2019-2020. Except it only adds $50 a month to each of the teachers in the 16+ year experience range.
That’s what Cooper vetoed.
His plan would have been much better for all teachers in 2019.
His plan is better for teachers in 2021.