Don’t Believe What DPI Says About Average Teacher Pay. Here’s Why.

From today’s News & Observer:

Actually much less.

The article makes reference to a recent DPI report.

Specifically page 19.

Still far below the national average, but NC’s average teacher pay is not near $58K.

Of those over 21,500 (21,716.41) of those positions are veteran teachers who have graduate degree pay. They were “grandfathered” into that status, but any new teacher cannot have graduate degree pay.

The last ten 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 54K per year (unless they use their own money to pursue a rigorous national certification process).

So how can that be the average pay in NC be over 54K when no one can really make much over 54K 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.”

Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. 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.

Any veteran teacher who is making above 50K based on seniority, graduate pay, and national boards are gladly counted in this figure. It simply drives up the CURRENT average pay. But when these veteran teachers who have seniority, graduate pay, and possibly national certification retire (and many are doing that early at 25 years), then the very people who seem to be a “burden” on the educational budget leave the system.

In actuality, that would drive the average salary down as time goes on. If the top salary that any teacher could make is barely over 50K (some will have higher as National Board Certified Teachers, but not a high percentage), then how can you really tout that average salaries will be higher?

You can if you are only talking about the right here and right now.

Remember the word “average” is a very easy word to manipulate. Politicians use it well. In this case, the very teachers who are driving the “average” salary up are the very people that the state wants to not have in a few years. There will then be a new average. It can’t possibly be over 54K then if current trends keep going.

Oh. There’s another interesting part of that report the general taxpayer may not understand: the report is only talking about the state funded teachers.

DPI only makes reports on salaries that the state funds. According to the figures above, the state funds base salaries for 73,499.96 teaching positions.

The state has around 95,000 teachers in public schools.

Not all teachers are allocated in the state budget that DPI is centering the report around.

There are teachers funded through allotments that each LEA can use for Limited English Proficiency.

There are teachers hired through local funds.

There are teachers hired through federal funds.

That would certainly affect the average teacher’s pay in this state. It would be very hard to sustain the number of teachers at a high rate of pay that are not budgeted on a recurring basis within the state budget.