Attention: Rant about the current critical period for the teachers in my state of North Carolina forthcoming. You’ve been warned.
When I arrived from South Carolina in 2002, North Carolina was 21st in teacher pay. Sadly, we are now 48th. Forty-eighth. The “Thank goodness for Mississippi” joke is wearing thin. Especially when we can no longer say “Thank goodness for South Carolina.” or “Thank goodness for West Virginia.” They both now outrank us in teachers’ salaries.
This Tuesday, the NC House it supposed to vote on the Senate’s budget, which puts education in this state in very dire straits indeed. And if you’re not outraged, and alarmed at the sneaky, underhanded dealings, you’re not paying attention.
Teacher pay in North Carolina has been frozen for five years. In 2008-2009 a teacher with five years’ experience had a base salary of $35,380. Today, that teacher earns $31,220. However, this proposed budget would also stop paying teachers for advanced degrees and National Board Certification. I am going to illustrate this by making it very personal – because it is very personal. To every teacher in this state.
- In 2005-2006, I had 6 years teaching experience and a master’s degree, and National Board Certification. I made $40,300.
- In 2008-2009, I had 9 years experience, a master’s degree, and National Board Certification. I made $47,660.
- 2010-2011: $47,660
- 2011-2012: $47,660.
- This Year: $47,620 (Anyone catch the slight pay cut?)
- Should this budget pass? I’ll make $39,650.
Let me save you the trouble of the math. It’s $766.66 less every single month. At 14 years of experience, they would ask me to revert to my salary from almost a decade ago.
Let me be very clear to any of the General Assembly who may happen to read this:
You have talked about needing to cut these mysterious “bloated budgets”. Please rest assured: You have cut the fat, slashed the muscle, and sawed through the bone. Increasing class size for kindergarten through third grade AND cutting teacher assistants at the elementary school level? Have you ever managed a classroom of 25+ kindergarteners? Or third graders?
Please come try it. I beg you.
You don’t seem to think this will matter.
You seem to think teachers will just keep accepting this treatment.
You don’t seem to believe $766.66 a month on a teacher’s salary will be a deal breaker for highly dedicated educators like myself.
You say insulting things, like: “We haven’t seen any evidence that freezing teacher pay has had any negative consequences on student performance.” (~Terry Stoops)
You don’t seem to realize the simple truth that teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.
And I’m telling you. You’re going to eat all those words. Enough.
Unless, of course, this is your goal? Shake enough experienced teachers loose and replace with less-expensive new teachers? After all, both Arne Duncan and Bill Gates have told you that teacher experience doesn’t really matter.
When in fact, research consistently indicates it is the teacher – more than resources, student population, and yes even class size, that makes the difference in the success in the classroom. The teacher.
One might mistakenly think this would mean that you, the powers that be, would realize the importance of investing in quality teachers. Making sure we have access to things like excellent professional development. (NCCAT is also on the chopping block, and as other educators can better explain better than I, it’s also a mistake.) Perhaps, as South Carolina did for me, even *gasp* actually pay for our professional development to further our expertise. No, instead, you apparently have opted to devalue it completely. North Carolina is sending the clear message to master teachers who have spent their time, effort, and our own money to improve that we are not wanted here.
Rest assured, should this budget pass, that we will hear that message loud and clear.
I’ve noticed that all that the “It’s the teacher that really matters” research has gotten us here in North Carolina is the blame. As you cut our pay and increase our class size, you tout this evidence when it suits you, saying class size doesn’t matter to student achievement, for example.
However, you lay all things wrong with education firmly at the feet of the teacher. After all, we’re the ones that matter, right?
“So what if we’ve frozen their salary repeatedly and stopped all funding for ways for educators to improve? Johnny bubbled B instead of C?
Quick. Remove some more support.
Author’s Note: Many are planning to exercise their first amendment rights about this proposed budget at the state capital tomorrow, Monday, June 3rd at 5 pm at the Centennial Mall (between the Museum of History and Natural Sciences).
|House Subcommittee on Education Appropriations
Click here to visit the House Subcommittee on Education Appropriations webpage.
If you haven’t had a chance to sign the Change.org petition in support of NCCAT, please do so by clicking the link. Thank you!