N.C. teachers slave wages

Jul 29, 2013 by

There’s a chart that’s making the rounds showing North Carolina as a dead and dismal last on teacher compensation, even before last week’s vote to withhold raises for 2013-14. Bill Anderson of MeckEd sent it to Superintendent Heath Morrison, who’s been mentioning it at every opportunity.

The graphic presentation comes from a North Carolina teacher’s blog, Teaching Speaks Volumes, but the numbers come from a National Education Association report on state rankings.

You’re probably more familiar with another list from that report, ranking our state 46th in average teacher salaries, about $10,000 below the national average (and $1,500 below South Carolina). That’s nothing to boast about, but heck, we’re ahead of West Virginia and Mississippi.

The chart highlights another way of looking at it. The NEA calculated salaries in inflation-adjusted dollars and charted the change over the past decade, from 2001-02 to 2011-12. Teacher salaries across the nation declined almost 3 percent by that measure, while North Carolina’s dropped almost 16 percent. Indiana had the next-biggest decline at 10 percent.

You can quibble over whether we’re last or almost last, but either way it’s a picture that’s raising questions about the state’s commitment to teachers, students and public education.

At a forum last week on the state’s Read to Achieve program, moderator Mike Collins asked Morrison and top officials of three other nearby districts whether North Carolina is a good place to teach. “No!” called several people in the audience of about 200 educators and advocates.

Crystal Hill, executive director of elementary education for the Mooresville Graded School District, said the daughter of Superintendent Mark Edwards recently chose a teaching job in Tennessee over offers from her home state because she can make $11,000 a year more.

“My personal feeling is that clearly there is an attack on public education,” Hill said.

The administrators were all polished speakers, but my favorite quote of the evening came from an audience member who identified himself only as a grandfather whose mother had been a teacher. He talked about the push for accountability in the face of cuts. “They want you to build a house,” he said, “but they won’t give you no plywood, no nails, no saws, no hammers.”

via Your Schools: N.C. teacher pay: Worse than Mississippi?.

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