I assume many of you saw the scathing editorial in the NY Times titled “The Decline of North Carolina” about the Moral Monday protests, or at least, the political decision-making fueling them. You may have also read Governor McCrory’s response in which he asserts the wisdom of the decisions. As with the protests, he dismisses the concerns.
However, he should be concerned.
It has teachers talking, and tweeting, and facebooking about the state of the State that we are in. One colleague noted that he would get a 48% salary increase just by crossing the Connecticut state line. I’ve already posted I’d get a raise moving back to South Carolina, and with a lower cost of living.
We can all agree the entire country has been in a tough economic spot over the last decade. We might blame it on Dubya’s wars or on Obama’s healthcare, depending on our perspective or cable news source. I’m not here to debate that.
But whether you believe in merit based pay or a system that many with experience in education would consider more equitable, you should want teachers to make a living wage.
From the 2001-02 to the 2011-12 school years, the national average of teachers’ salaries fell -2.8%. One can assume the cost of living didn’t also fall during that decade in anyplace, USA, so that’s really unfortunate, especially considering how underpaid we were already.
And while this news may not surprise you, what may surprise you is how widely from state to state teachers’ salary growth (or lack thereof) has varied. I researched “Rankings of the States 2012 and Estimates of School Statistics 2013” and made this Infographic using easel.ly:
All differences in politics and cost of living aside, this data shows who has been working to try to provide the educators of its youth with a respectable wage.
The very “red” state of Wyoming leads the pack. Sure, they don’t have the highest teachers’ salaries in the country, but that’s not the point. From where they were, they have been working to invest in their teachers, even in the difficult economy. The “blue” states of Massachusetts and Connecticut have always had the highest average teacher’s salaries in the country (behind New York) but they did not get complacent in a bad economy and think, “We already pay well compared to the others. Let’s coast.”
The joke in education has always been, “Thank God for Mississippi.” However, they are actually better than the national average over the last decade in slowing the teachers’ salary slide. Our apologies, Mississippi.
Our nation’s teachers who see this data are likely saying, “Thank God we’re not in North Carolina”.
Governor McCrory should be concerned that North Carolinian teachers of all political persuasions are starting to agree.