I know some folks struggle with facts. But…
In 2004 NC was ranked 22nd in average teacher pay. By 2010 NC was ranked 48th. Sorry for the partisan reference, but this amazing travesty was accomplished by a NC legislature under control by Democrats. It is election time and who you vote for makes a staggering difference – for our teachers.
I came into the NCGA in 2012 with NC still ranked 48th. In 6 years we climbed as high as 32nd and float in the lower 30s as other states address teacher pay like we do. NC is the 2nd highest increase in teachers raises while I have served in the NCGA.
As children across the state head back to school this week, it’s a great time to reflect on a success story that has occurred right here in North Carolina over the past seven years: the dramatic pay increases for teachers passed by Republicans in the General Assembly.
We can all remember that teacher who profoundly impacted our lives at a young age. Educators’ hard work and commitment are vital to the success of our children and to the future of our state.
Let’s start by looking at what was going on before Republicans assumed leadership of the General Assembly in 2011.
Before Republicans took control of the legislature in 2011, Democrats eliminated thousands of teaching positions, furloughed educators, and frozepay. Between 2008 and 2010, education spending dropped by 9.1% and teacher pay plummeted from 28th in the country to 41st.
Early on, after assuming leadership, we began the process of raising teacher pay. In the 2012 budget, we gave public school teachers their first raise since 2008, but that was just the beginning. We made a promise to dramatically increase teacher pay in North Carolina, and we kept that promise. In 2014 we invested $282 million in teacher pay, representing a 7% raise –the highest raise in the entire nation.
In addition to providing teachers with an average 7% raise in the 2014 budget, we also collapsed the antiquated 33-step pay scale and increased starting teacher pay, improving the state’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality educators.
Providing a great education is critically important for North Carolina’s next generation. Investments in teachers are key to encouraging the best and brightest to make a long-term commitment to their profession, our students, and our state.
The reforms that we delivered in 2014 were significant and a good start to delivering on our promise to raise teacher pay. But they were just the beginning. In fact, the raise in 2014 was the first of five consecutive increases.
I’ll share more on that later this week.
Senator Jeff Tarte