Monday, January 27, 2014
Deborah Gerhardt at UNC School of Law has been in the middle of North Carolina's fight over teacher pay, accountability, and tenure. In the Slate article earlier this year, she summarized North Carolina's race to the bottom:
As recently as 2008, North Carolina paid teachers better than half the nation. . . . After six years of no real raises, we have fallen to 46th in teacher pay. North Carolina teachers earn nearly $10,000 less than the national average. And if you look at trends over the past decade, we rank dead last: After adjusting for inflation, North Carolina lowered teacher salaries nearly 16 percent from 2002 to 2012, while other states had a median decline of 1 percent. A first-year teacher in North Carolina makes $30,800. Our school district lost a candidate to a district in Kentucky because its starting salary was close to $40,000. It takes North Carolina teachers more than 15 years to earn $40,000; in Virginia it may take only four. Gap store managers on average make about $56,000.
This decent to the bottom is shocking in a state that was dubbed the education state in the early 1990s and was a model for the authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. This is coming at the exact same time when Mississippi has introduced legislation to increase its starting teachers' salary from $31,000 to $37,000. Initial reports indicate this increase will pass with bipartisan support. Mississippi has various other progressive measures before the legislature (littered with a few regressive ones) that may pass as well. That moving education forward in North Carolina would be more difficult than Mississippi is hard to comprehend, until one realizes that opponents of traditional public education have turned the nation's education state into the nation's battleground.