As they prepare for the start of the new school year, educators from across the state participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Roy Cooper in Raleigh today. They focused on the need for a substantial teacher pay raise and the importance that has on keeping North Carolina competitive with other states to recruit and retain teaching talent.
“We don’t let our students fall behind in their coursework, and we can’t let our state fall behind in teacher pay. We need the best and the brightest leading our classrooms, and that requires a substantial teacher raise so that we can compete with other states who are committed to paying teachers what they deserve,” said Governor Cooper.
Teachers across North Carolina are going back to school without a state pay raise because Republican legislators are unwilling to negotiate with Governor Cooper to reach a budget consensus. Forty-three days ago, Governor Cooper offered Republicans a balanced compromise proposal that would give teachers an average 8.5% raise over two years with no plateaus and a raise for every teacher. The Republican conference budget proposed an average teacher raise of 3.8% over two years.
Since Governor Cooper has taken office, he has made getting teacher pay to at least the national average a priority. He has pushed the legislature on this issue, and North Carolina has gone from 41st in the nation in overall teacher pay to 29th. However, most of the raises have gone to newer teachers while veteran educators have been shortchanged. A paltry 3.8% pay raise over the next two years will not keep North Carolina competitive with recent pay raises in neighboring states and based on current projections, could cause North Carolina to drop in the national rankings of teacher salaries.
“It’s not a profession I’m doing because I can’t do something else," said Guilford County teacher Saletta Ureña. "My heart got involved. You want to do the best you can for the kids on your best day and on your worst day. That’s hard sometimes when you feel that you’ve been forgotten and devalued and you aren’t seen as a professional. I want to be respected.”
“We trust our teachers to teach our children and we should put our money where our trust is,” said Governor Cooper. “We need teachers focused on our students, not worried about making ends meet because of low pay. It is time for Republican legislators to stop stalling and come to the table and negotiate a budget that will provide teachers with a significant pay raise.”
“Our current teachers need to feel applauded, respected and affirmed so that they can inspire and mentor other teachers and children," said Iredell-Statesville Schools principal Carrie Tulbert. "Veteran teachers in general don’t feel that. A teacher teaches every other profession. I’ve had to try and recruit and reach out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and try anything I can.”
Roundtable participants included Carrie Tulbert (Principal, Iredell-Statesville Schools), Guy Hill (Teacher, Harnett County), Saletta Ureña (Teacher, Guilford County), Ann Gaster Spain (Teaching Assistant, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County), Susan Book (Parent, Wake County), Denise McCoy (Parent Involvement Coordinator, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools), Mark Jewell (President, NCAE).