Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to raise teacher pay by 10 percent in the next two years is projected to have an almost immediate impact on the state’s ability to retain teachers. That’s the prediction by the state’s largest teacher group, the North Carolina Association of Educators.
The organization’s president, Mark Jewell, said while there were some increases in teachers’ pay during the previous administration, little was done to improve pay across the board.
“This is really a multi-year commitment to move teacher pay for everyone,” Jewell said. “The pay raises we’ve had in the past did nothing for those who had like 20 years and beyond, had received relatively no pay raise in the last eight years.”
If the General Assembly approves the governor’s proposal, it would make teacher salaries in North Carolina the highest in the Southeast within three years and raise them above the national average in five years.
Gov. Cooper said the plan would cost $813 million over the next two years and prompt no tax increase. The plan has received bipartisan support.
Jewell said raising salaries for all the state’s teachers will help with retention and make recruitment easier this school year.
“There was a time when we had a surplus of elementary trained teachers. Now we can’t fill elementary teachers, hard-to-staff subject areas are impossible to fill,” he said. “This is a move in the right direction.”
The state’s average teacher salary is currently $50,000 a year, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, making it 41st in the nation in the most recent report from the National Education Association.