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Local teachers say McCrory’s plan is not enough

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Governor Pat McCrory

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Teachers in North Carolina are unimpressed by Gov. Pat McCrory’s plan to raise the starting salary for new teachers.

The plan that was unveiled Tuesday morning by McCrory and legislative leaders at a news conference at Ragsdale High School would raise the starting salary for teachers to $35,000 over the course of two years. New teachers would see a bump of $2,200 next school year, raising base pay from $30,800 annually to $33,000. The starting salary would jump again in 2015, up to $35,000.

The move would shift North Carolina from being one of the lowest paying states in the country for new teachers to just shy of the national average.

For local teachers, it’s not enough.

“Teachers are not buying this anymore,” said Ann Petitjean, president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators. “We are not seeing a movement to really support our children. This does nothing for per-pupil expenditures, nothing for textbooks and nothing for class size.

“All it does is put a Band-Aid on a really big problem.”

That problem is two-fold: high teacher turnover as more teachers retire early, switch professions or leave to teach in another state; and growing unrest among the teachers who are left.

“This is one more divisive measure,” said Stephanie Wallace, an English teacher at East Forsyth High School who is one of six plaintiffs suing the state to challenge the repeal of career status, or tenure.

Wallace teaches the Teaching Cadet courses at East Forsyth, designed for students interested in a career in teaching.

“While I am happy for those who will receive the salary bump, it is a slap in the face to everyone else who has remained dedicated to our students and their families,” Wallace said.

Figures in the governor’s proposal do not take into account local salary supplements, which vary by county. In Forsyth County, the local supplement starts at $2,770 a year and increases depending on experience, position and level of education.

Financing for the state-proposed raises will come from additional and available revenues and will not require a tax increase, according to a news release. Speaking at a forum Monday afternoon in Raleigh, McCrory said the raise for new teachers was just a start.

Beverly Emory, superintendent for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, attended the forum and said that more needs to be done.

“This is a solid and important first step, especially as we approach our spring hiring season,” Emory said in an email. “Keeping and attracting our newer teachers, who have not seen any salary increase in their entire career, is important. However, all of our teachers and educational support staff need to be valued through some increase in compensation.”

The state’s top brass has taken heat over the last year for changes to education policy, including the repeal of tenure, cuts to funding for teaching assistants and textbooks, and a controversial voucher program. After the announcement Monday, McCrory, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis released a joint statement touting the proposal as a way to turn North Carolina “into a destination, not a layover.”

Petitjean said she sees the proposal as something else — a way to do away with the state’s salary schedule and move to merit pay. That would not be a change welcomed by teachers, she said.

“Merit pay doesn’t work in education,” Petitjean said.

The state’s proposal to replace teachers’ tenure is a contract plan that includes bonuses for the top 25 percent of teachers in each district, as determined by individual school boards.

22 comments

  • chucky1992

    I am not a teacher but know several people who were. If you were one of the more experienced teachers who devoted a good part of your life to teaching because you love children and think education is important, you’d probably be insulted by this plan. Let’s face it… teachers don’t put up with parents who are sorry or jerks, children who are spoiled or bullies and the spineless administration who traps them in the middle with little or no support for the money that they make. They do it because they know that children need to be educated.

  • old codger

    They are lucky they are getting anything at all. The should just be quiet and take the money if they wanted more money the should have chosen a different profession. Stop being so greedy.

  • Lee

    My wife and I were just talking about our fish trip at coast this past summer and pats picture the last time we saw a stupid grin like that I was taking a hook out of its mouth, he is such a parents wetdream!!!!

  • Bigjohn

    Let’s see, cut the state budget by one billion dollars with education and teachers taking a huge hit. Take away the right to negociate and kill earned tenure and then throw a bone at them to keep their vote. What a guy!!!

    • old codger

      I can tell from your spelling you’re probably a Forsyth county grad, so I’ll dumb this down for you a bit. If the districts weren’t allocating funds for i-pads, a month to Martin Luther King JR and meals to children whose parents are too irresponsible to feed them they would have more money for the teachers. Get back to the basics math science and TRUE history and the kids will be ok. Instead you have school districts investing in programs that don’t work. The state isn’t a magic cornicopia of money they have a budget, how educators don’t understand this I don’t know. Maybe instead they should raise a fuss about some of these bull programs

      • Gordon Ingram

        Sir, most educators do understand that there are TONS of programs, etc. that are a waste and that the state just doesn’t ooze money. We do raise a fuss about these programs (i.e. the argument against the stupid Common Core curriculum). By the way, it is obvious that you did not misspell cornucopia “on purpose” and just caught your mistake when re-reading your post. Probably embarrassed, you tried to play it off… Before you point fingers at others’ incorrect grammar and spelling, check your own. There are many run-on sentences in your post and even in the reply to yourself. Did you attend Forsyth County Schools???

  • frank sinner

    Well I feel the same way about money!! I never have enough and really after TAX season hits !! I never get a refund like the freeloaders do that keep pumping out little checks(KIDS) for them and bills for real Taxpayers !!

  • Stephen

    Teachers….they think that they are so special….How about give them nothing. Give it to someone who will appreciate it!

    • Gordon Ingram

      Nobody “gives” us anything you arrogant @#^^! Teachers have jobs and earn their paychecks. Try being one for a day and let’s see how you feel. I’ll bet you wouldn’t last 30 minutes.

    • Silad Dogoode

      Stephen….do you have children that attend school? I’d really like to know because if you do, I’m sure you are the parent who blames teachers for your kids’ poor performance or demands teachers be responsible for your kid doing his or her homework. If teachers didn’t work well over forty hours a week….your kid wouldn’t get work graded, your kids classes would be prepped, your kids teams wouldn’t be coached and your kid wouldn’t receive a report card. You would then blame teachers for everything.

      • KJT

        Lets put this into a context that the Walmart workers can understand. Here is the situation: Your shift begins at 8am and ends at 5pm. But, you just don’t work those hours. You commonly come in at 7am to tidy up the aisles and plan how to tackle the mass of people who will patronize Walmart that day. When 8am rolls around you punch in and begin your shift. You have been working your tail off for 15 years at your job. You started working for Walmart making $8.75 per hour and over the years worked your way up the ladder to make a nice little hourly wage of $10 per hour! You would be making more, but unfortunately over the years Walmart fell on hard times, so you had to go without a raise for several years as you watched the employees at Kmart and Target get raises all of those years. You often thought about switching stores, but you were too far vested into the Walmart community and have established yourself as someone good ole’ Sam could be proud to have as an employee. You end your shift at 5pm and punch out. But, you don’t leave. You stay after your shift is over to make sure that all the Walmart customers are satisfied, appreciated, and feel good about themselves. You run to the registers to check people out in order to get them out the door in a timely manner even though you have already completed your shift. You smile even when you want to yell at the person in line using their cell phone instead of listening to you. On your way to the car after your shift is over you discover that the buggie collection area is full, you use your own time and take all the buggies back into the store. As you return the buggies to the store you see customers in line for food at McDonald’s or Subway who cannot afford to eat, so you take out your wallet and pay for them to eat so they wont go home hungry. As you go back out to your car you are paged to the office to answer a call from a disgruntled customer who got their feelings hurt because you failed to tell them nicely to put their phone away. After a 20 minute phone call, you finally get back out the door to your car and are paged over the intercom again, and told that their will be a mandatory meeting at 7pm. Even though you have already been at work way over your shift. You return to the store only to be told that even though you have been working hard and doing so much to make your customers better citizens and going above and beyond picking up slack on your own time and own dime that the new employees will be starting at at $9.90 per hour. You are told that the turnover rate of Walmart is too high and that they need to attract the best and brightest Walmart employees. You wonder why they would pay someone that much money to start. After all, you started off at $8.75 an hour and worked hard through good times and bad to make what you make. You have been working all those years and dedicated a lot of time and money to make the Walmart shopping experience the best of all retail outlets only to be told that you aren’t good enough and the new employees who have no experience how to handle customers the way you do, are worth more to the store that you are. You wonder how this could have happened? You start second guessing your career as a dedicated Walmart worker. You wonder, why did I bust my tail all of those years only to get shafted by good ole’ Sam?

        But, the reality of the situation is that NOBODY at Walmart does this!

        TEACHERS DO THIS EVERYDAY!

  • old codger

    I work at Wal-mart to get out of the house. I’m 69 years old, I built and owned a well drilling company sold it then started a printing company sold it and made a boat load of money. If you wanted to make money you should behave gotten into the private sector. If you educators are so smart why can’t you figure that out. You have a state that is basically bankrupt and you’re surprised they can’t pay you more. By the way I am a proud alum of Oak Street Elementary Chicago Illinois . How’s it feel being outdated by a sixth grader.

    • KJT

      You also assume that I’m a teacher. I am not. Didn’t your elementary school teachers teach you anything? Seems like your not as smart as the average sixth grader. Assume away, all you do is keep making yourself sound foolish.

    • Gordon Ingram

      First, I don’t recall reading anywhere that teachers are saying that the started teaching for the money. I’d bet you cannot find a teacher anywhere that started the in the profession because of the paycheck. It’s about so much more than that, something you probably would never understand. Oh, and I can see your grammar has gotten no better since the last post. Your comment makes little sense. Maybe you should find a teacher to help with that.

  • KJT

    If you’re so smart why do you work at Walmart? It seems like you couldn’t make it in the private sector either. If you have a boat load of money, then why work? If I had all that money, I wouldn’t be working, I would be enjoying myself. If you have a boat load of money, why do you keep the money you get from working. I mean if it is just to get out of the house. You make no sense!

    • KJT

      Just another example of people not paying attention in school. If you want to emphasize the fact you think teachers shouldn’t get a raise, you should at least capitalize the “not” part of your sentence. Your handle says it all.

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