Leandro report finds NC’s current principal pay plan harms high-need schools

This week the much-anticipated Leandro report by WestEd was finally made public.  The report is the result of a comprehensive, year-long study by non-partisan education consultants who were appointed by North Carolina’s courts to take a systematic look at whether the state is living up to its constitutional mandate to provide a “sound basic education” to each child.  It provides a detailed road map for improvements that need to be made to ensure that we are meeting the educational needs of our students, including how we pay our school leaders.

One critical area of need WestEd identified is providing “a qualified and well-prepared principal in every school.”  That need echoes existing research which finds that having an effective principal in place is crucial to the success of a school, especially those that serve our most disadvantaged students.  Clearly one of the most important ways we can ensure we have the right principals where they are most needed is through an effective compensation model.

North Carolina’s principal pay system was overhauled in 2017, after our ranking had slipped to an embarrassing 50th in the nation.  The new pay plan, which was crafted with intense lobbying by pro-business education reform organization Best NC, compensates school leaders based on how much their students grew on standardized tests at the end of the year, with overall pay fluctuating accordingly on an annual basis.  

The Leandro report finds that North Carolina’s system for paying principals “works against the state’s meeting the requirement of a qualified principal in every school” because it “creates a disincentive for effective principals to work in underperforming schools, which often take more than one year to improve and meet or exceed targets for growth.”  As it currently stands, if a principal who has been rated ‘effective’ moves into a low-performing school, he or she has a very short period of time to bring test scores up before seeing a reduction in salary.

Of principals who were surveyed for the Leandro study, 24% said that, as a result of the new principal pay policy, they would “seek to retire as soon as possible,” “leave to obtain principalship in another school,” or “leave the principalship.”  A whopping 44% said they “oppose” or “strongly oppose” the compensation model.  

WestEd’s recommendation is for a major overhaul of principal compensation.  Instead of tying pay solely to test scores, the report calls for broadening indicators of progress to include measures related to things like teacher recruitment/retention and school working conditions.  It suggests that North Carolina create “incentives, rather than disincentives, for working in high-need schools,” potentially including the following:

*A meaningful supplement for principals who take a position to turn around a persistently failing school

*Protection against principals having a salary reduction if they go to work in low-performing, hard-to-staff school in order to enable multiyear efforts to improve these schools

The WestEd report should serve as a major wake up call to state lawmakers who must now take action to ensure compliance with the Leandro court decision.  There’s no better place to start than working toward ensuring stable leadership in our neediest schools.

You can read the section of the WestEd report on principal compensation below.


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It’s official: Representative Craig Horn is running for NC State Superintendent. His record on education should concern us all.

According to the official State Board of Elections Candidate List, Union County Representative Craig Horn filed yesterday to run for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction.  His record on education as a state legislator shows that he’s not just unqualified—he’s anti-qualified.

Horn has never been a public school teacher or worked in education in any capacity whatsoever.  That lack of first hand understanding of the dynamics of a classroom or the day-to-day operations of a school district is problematic in and of itself.  

But it’s what Horn has done rather than what he hasn’t done that should concern educators the most.

Representative Horn has consistently voted for corporate tax cuts–six in the last seven years–which have deprived our public schools of billions of dollars in potential revenue.  He has voted for budgets which have slashed the numbers of teaching assistants we have in elementary classrooms by more than 7,000 over the last decade, making it much harder for teachers to manage behaviors and differentiate instruction for our youngest learners.  He has voted for budgets which have reduced funding for supplies and materials by 55%, leaving underpaid teachers to buy classroom resources on their own.

Horn likes to portray himself as a great supporter of teachers, but he has voted AYE on many policy changes which have directly harmed the teaching profession in North Carolina.  They include, among others:

  • Stripping master’s pay for North Carolina teachers (first state in the country to do that).
  • Abolishing career protections for North Carolina teachers, meaning any teacher can be fired at any time without opportunity to speak on their own behalf.
  • Eliminating retiree health benefits for any teacher hired after Jan 1, 2021.  Folks hired after that date will be forced to purchase private insurance on their own.  This change makes it much harder to recruit new teachers at a time when North Carolina is experiencing a major shortage.
  • Cutting all funding for the NC Teaching Fellows Program, a highly successful 25 year teacher development program which gave scholarships to high school students who committed to teaching in NC schools.

Craig Horn’s actions as a state legislator demonstrate his callous disregard for the teaching profession, and his backwards priorities on funding have contributed directly to the conditions which have prompted thousands of fed-up educators to fill the streets of Raleigh and march to Horn’s own state legislature both of the last two years. 

The last thing we need is to put one of the people who’s actually responsible for North Carolina’s current education 💩 storm in charge of our school system.

Leandro report sharply at odds with Dan Forest’s dubious claims on NC education funding

Late last week, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest ruffled feathers by sending a highly partisan, self-serving campaign email to all 100,000 of North Carolina’s teachers.  In the email, Forest, who just filed to run for governor in next year’s general election, blasted Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoing of the state budget and an educator salary bill.  

Forest made disingenuous references to cuts in education funding that occurred under Democratic rule as a result of the Great Recession and boasted about pay increases and efforts on overall education funding that have occurred since Republicans took control of state government in 2011.

Yesterday the much-anticipated Leandro report was made public.  The report is the result of a comprehensive, year-long study by non-partisan education consultants who were appointed by North Carolina courts to take a detailed, systematic look at whether or not the state is living up to its constitutional mandate to provide a “sound basic education” to each child.

The report is 300 pages long, and it’s going to take time to digest.  But it’s clear that the consultants’ view of North Carolina’s funding of public education differs sharply with that of Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest:

North Carolina was recognized during the 1980s and 1990s as an example of how state policymakers could turn a state around by making strong investments in teachers’ knowledge and skills and in early childhood support and education and by establishing standards for students and teachers. The state was extensively studied by the National Education Goals Panel when its efforts resulted in sharp increases in student performance and reduction in the achievement gap…

However, cutbacks that began during the recession after 2008, along with much deeper legislative cuts over the last few years, have eliminated or greatly reduced many of the programs that were put in place and have begun to undermine the quality and equity gains that were previously made.

Specifically, the WestEd report finds the following changes have crippled North Carolina’s ability to serve the needs of students, particularly those of our economically disadvantaged children:

  • Cuts to funding for DPI’s District and School Transformation have hampered efforts to improve low-performing schools.
  • The state has failed to provide adequate funding for student support services (e.g. counselors and social workers).
  • The Teaching Fellows program which was so critical to providing motivated, high quality teachers to North Carolina classrooms was discontinued by legislators and subsequently restarted at a much smaller scale.
  • Funding for professional development of teachers has decreased.
  • Budget cuts have reduced the total number of teachers employed in NC by 5% from 2009 to 2018.  During that time, student enrollment has increased 12%, meaning much larger class sizes.
  • Over the last decade, changes to curriculum have occurred as part of an effort to prepare students for a rapidly advancing society.  However, there has not been adequate investment by the state in providing the professional learning needed to implement those changes effectively.
  • The number of English language learners more than doubled from 2000 to 2015 (from 3% to 7% of students), creating a need for an educator workforce that employs more culturally responsive teaching approaches.  State funding for education has not kept pace with this growth, as per-pupil spending in North Carolina has declined by 6% over the last decade when numbers are adjusted for inflation.

Education is going to be the most important campaign issue in the 2020 election.  It’s critical that we elect leaders who believe in adequately funding our schools so we that can provide North Carolina’s students with the opportunities they deserve.

The WestEd report can be found in its entirety below:


NC Department of Information Technology issues scathing rebuke of Superintendent Mark Johnson’s Istation procurement process

On Monday, the Department of Information Technology issued a scathing rebuke of NC Superintendent Mark Johnson’s handling of the troubled Istation contract award process.  

The entire order is posted at the bottom so you can see it for yourself, but read on for the most important highlights.

In upholding its stay of Istation’s contract while it conducts a thorough review of the procurement, DIT noted the following:

1)  DPI didn’t fully consider the required evaluation factors of the procurement as mandated by state law.

There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings and during oral argument to indicate that NCDPI failed to fully consider the minimum required factors listed in N.C. Sess. Law. 2017-57 § 7.27.(c), and instead, relied on other evaluation factors.

2.  DPI changed the evaluation criteria in the middle of the procurement process in a way that benefited Istation.

There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings to indicate that NCDPI not only changed the evaluation criteria, but altered the ranking of the importance of remaining criteria in a way that benefited Istation.

3.  DPI altered the scope and intent of negotiations without notifying DIT.

According to NCDPI’s Request for Cancellation completed on 21 March 2019, NCDPI communicated to NCDIT that it would use the evaluation criteria contained in RFP No. 40-RQ20680730 in its negotiations with Amplify and Istation. There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings and oral arguments to indicate that NCDPI materially altered the intent or scope of the solicitations during negotiations and did not notify NCDIT of these changes in violation of 09 NCAC 06B .0316.

4.  DPI removed all evaluation panel members who voted for Amplify’s mClass tool, retaining only those who had previously voted for Istation.

“There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings and oral arguments to indicate that NCDPI removed all evaluation panel members who voted for Amplify in the fall of 2018 during the RFP process, and in selecting a vendor during subsequent negotiations, NCDPI retained only those evaluation panel members who had previously voted for Istation.

In summary, DPI “failed to comply with applicable statutory law and information technology procurement rules…and jeopardized the integrity and fairness of the procurement process.”

DIT did deny Amplify’s attempt to block the Memorandum of Understanding between Istation and DPI which allows Istation to operate in North Carolina free of charge pending the outcome of the ongoing review.  That decision allows Istation to get more and more firmly entrenched in North Carolina’s schools while DIT’s review continues.

Still, it appears that the writing could be on the wall for Istation and its North Carolina contract.

The week of January 13 a hearing will be held which should determine whether this case is decided in Istation or Amplify’s favor.

Hours after DIT issued its decision, Mark Johnson released the following official statement referring to the hearing officer that made the ruling as incompetent. It’s the same officer that will rule on the case next month. Brilliant move, Superintendent Johnson.


Lt. Governor Dan Forest’s rabidly partisan email to 100,000 teachers–sent two days after he filed to run for governor–is highly unethical

On Friday, North Carolina Lt. Governor (and candidate for governor) Dan Forest released an open letter to “North Carolina teachers and school personnel.”  The message was sent directly to all teachers via their school email addresses by Forest’s Director of Communications Jamey Faulkenbury.

In the rabidly partisan letter, Forest smears former Democratic leadership for “incompetent mismanagement” and cuts to education funding which were made during the height of the Great Recession.  He praises Republicans for what he frames as significant investments in education since they took over in 2011. He blasts Governor Cooper for vetoing this year’s budget and education-related funding.  Finally, he mocks the North Carolina Association of Educators’ membership numbers and says the teachers’ association has fought “tooth and nail to ensure you do not receive a pay raise.”

You can read the letter for yourself here:


Forest’s diatribe followed a letter that Governor Roy Cooper sent to public school principals on Thursday, updating educators on the budget situation and calling for negotiations on salary increases.  

After Cooper’s letter was sent, conservatives raised ethical and legal questions about the governor’s use of state email for what they perceived as political activity.  It’s unclear whether they have the same questions about Dan Forest’s communication, which upped the inflammatory partisan rhetoric ante considerably and also reached each teacher directly rather than leaving distribution to principals’ discretion.

Forest’s email may not technically violate State Board policy or state statute, but for a Lieutenant Governor to use the power of his office and state email to spread blatant campaign propaganda lambasting Governor Cooper to 100,000 potential voters just two days after filing to run for governor is extremely unethical.

On a related note, it’s fair to wonder how Lt. Governor Forest could have gotten his hands on the email addresses of all of North Carolina’s teachers.  Who would possibly be in a position to supply Forest with that information?

NC education software giant SAS paying for state legislators to attend anti-public school ALEC’s annual meetings

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an infamous legislation factory which is notoriously hostile toward traditional public schools.  Its model bills are passed into law–often word for word–by state legislatures around the country.  

ALEC’s education platform claims the nation’s K-12 education system is “failing our students, leaving them unprepared for college, careers, or life,” and the policies the organization writes for lawmakers offer a smorgasbord of legislative pathways for defunding public schools, especially those that serve high-poverty students.  

That’s why it’s so disappointing to learn that one of North Carolina K-12 public education’s most high-profile partners, SAS Institute, is paying for members of North Carolina’s General Assembly to travel to ALEC’s annual meetings, where viewing and discussing the group’s suggested anti-public school policies is one of the primary activities.

SAS Institute is a privately held analytics software company based in Cary, NC.  Its founder and CEO James Goodnight’s net worth is estimated at more than $13 billion, making him the richest person in North Carolina by a wide margin.  

SAS has an extremely cozy relationship with the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  Just last month, for example, SAS hosted an event where company software specialists and professional educators including DPI Deputy Superintendent of District Support Dr. Beverly Emory presented on how to use SAS data in public schools.

Millions of North Carolina taxpayer dollars go to SAS every year for a variety of software-related education contracts.  The company provides K-12 teachers with EVAAS ratings, which employ a secret algorithm to measure individual teachers’ effectiveness using DPI’s standardized test data.  It also produces the North Carolina School Report Cards

North Carolina’s School Report Cards assign each school a single A-F letter grade representing its overall performance. The report cards have been controversial since state legislators introduced them in 2013 as the grades are highly correlated with levels of poverty and sometimes have the effect of pushing families away from traditional public schools.

Probably not by coincidence, ALEC has been peddling its “A-Plus Literacy Act” to lawmakers since early 2011.  The model bill recommends a statewide A-F school report card system with a special focus on reporting results for students who score in the lowest 25th percentile, and it refers to the grading system as a “lynchpin for reforms.”  One such reform is also included in the bill, as ALEC recommends students who attend F schools be given an opportunity to enroll in private schools instead.

According to filings with the NC Secretary of State’s office, in August of 2018 and August of 2019, SAS Institute paid for meals and travel expenses for 19 members and staff of the North Carolina General Assembly to attend ALEC’s annual meetings.  

A leaked copy of the attendee list from the August 2019 meeting in Austin, TX, shows the North Carolina delegation included Senators Chuck Edwards and Todd Johnson, both of whom serve on the Senate Education Committee.

It’s not particularly surprising that members of the North Carolina General Assembly would attend an ALEC meeting where they can learn about the latest cookie-cutter legislation with their buddies from around the country.  

What is objectionable is that SAS Institute, a company that positions itself as a friend of public education, is taking taxpayer dollars in exchange for services to our K-12 public schools, then using some of that money to ensure that our legislators are spoon fed policies that are ultimately damaging to those same schools.

Craig Horn plans to run for state superintendent. Here’s what he’s done to teachers.

Union County Representative Craig Horn has given the strongest indication yet that he will run for North Carolina state superintendent.  In comments to NC Policy Watch this week, Horn said “at this point I’m planning on filing.”

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the notion of Craig Horn at the helm of North Carolina’s public schools since he first publicly floated the idea last month.  My friend Stuart Egan at Caffeinated Rage has, too.  And while we may be just two public school teachers in a state of nearly 100,000, our views are not unique among educators who have monitored Horn’s work as an elected official.  Here’s why.

Since being elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, Horn has rarely missed an education-related photo op.  During that time he has met a whole lot of teachers. Hell, I’ve met him a bunch of times myself, as my drawer full of Craig Horn business cards can attest.  Each time, Horn has firmly shaken my hand, handed me his card, leaned in close and said a little conspiratorially, “That’s my personal cell number. Call me. I can’t do it without your help.”  

Each time he’s forgotten that he already met me, already gave me the same song and dance about how much he relies on teachers to help him make sound decisions as a legislator.  And each time I’ve come away feeling that Craig Horn didn’t actually see me, he just saw an opportunity to paint himself in a certain light and score some political points.

How do I know Craig Horn’s love of teachers is largely a charade?  His 9 years of consistently voting against me and my colleagues–all of which is chronicled on the North Carolina General Assembly’s website.  These are just a handful of examples:

Here’s Craig Horn’s vote in 2013 on a budget bill which abolished career protections for all North Carolina teachers, meaning any teacher could be fired at any time without explanation or an opportunity to speak on their own behalf:

Here’s Craig Horn’s vote to eliminate pay for teachers who earn master’s degrees. made North Carolina the first state in the country to revoke advanced degree salary increases.

Here’s Craig Horn’s vote on stripping retiree health benefits from state employees beginning in 2021.  This means when teachers who have devoted their lives to educating the state’s children will be forced to purchase their own health insurance when they retire.

Here’s Horn’s vote on taking $85 million from the teacher assistant pool, one of several votes that has reduced teaching assistant numbers in North Carolina by 7000 compared with a decade ago.

Here’s Craig Horn’s vote on cutting all funding for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, a 25 year-old teacher development program which gave scholarships to high school students who committed to teaching in NC schools.

For good measure, here’s Horn’s vote on greatly expanding testing and threats of grade retention for 3rd grade children through the Read to Achieve initiative:

Craig Horn is a smooth talking politician, but his words are worth exactly doodly squat.  The only thing that matters when it comes to evaluating his fitness for the office of state superintendent is his voting record, and Horn has supported the policy changes that have most damaged our profession during his time in office.

North Carolina’s teachers were caught napping the last time the office of state superintendent was up for a vote in 2016, and we’ve paid a heavy price.

It’s not going to happen again.

NC GOP official disputes account of suffering teacher, gets dunked on by Rep. Deb Butler

After the NC Republican Party Communications Director questioned the veracity of her account of a public school teacher not having enough money for food and gas, Representative Deb “I Will Not Yield” Butler responded to his public records request by publishing the teacher’s entire heartbreaking email on Twitter.

Tuesday evening, Brunswick/New Hanover County Representative Deb Butler posted the following tweet:

Shortly after her tweet, Butler’s legislative assistant Tayler Williams received an email from North Carolina Republican Party Communications Director Jeff Hauser.  Hauser was making a formal records request that Butler turn over the email she claimed to have received from the teacher.

That’s right.  The NC GOP didn’t believe a North Carolina teacher could be struggling to this degree.

In response to the request, Butler asked the teacher for permission to publish the email in its entirety and posted it on Twitter just an hour after Hauser asked for it.  

You can read the gut-wrenching account of this Brunswick County teacher’s financial struggles in its entirety below:

…a local teacher here in Brunswick County, North Carolina.  I wanted to express my concern and frustration over the requirements and qualifications required for any form of public assistance.  I realize that there are large amounts of families that are in tight financial situations but I am having difficulty with the fact that as a state employee who works extremely hard every day and I am not able to receive help.  I am a single mom with zero support from my child’s father. He has been unable to be located and works under the table so I cannot track his employment. I have been denied any form of help, from Medicaid for my daughter to food stamps and childcare vouchers.  I understand that I am employed and I am thankful for this every day but when I submit my information to try to get any assistance, I am denied because my Gross amount of pay is utilized, rather than my take home pay. According to my paycheck, I make $4,840 a month.  This is not accurate. I have to take into consideration that I only get paid 10 times a year and therefore I have set up at Summer Cash account through SECU to help save money for the months I am not paid in the Summer. I take out $600 from each paycheck for that amount which leaves me with $4,240.  I also have supplemental insurances to help cover emergencies since I am the only income for my family. This costs $440.32 a month. I am now at $3,799 a month. Then I have to take into account that I have state, federal, retirement, social security, and medicare taken from my paycheck for the amount of $1,070.89.  I am now bringing home $2,728.79. With my take home pay, I have monthly bills that I have to pay. I pay $975 a month in rent, $130 in utilities, my phone bill is $143, car insurance is $100, insurance for my daughters health and dental is $84. I have student loan payments at $336 a month. I have personal loan payments each month from trying to cover months that I was extremely in debt.  These total $393. I have to pay day care each week at $90 a week so on average that is $405. I am at $162.79 left. I also have credit card payments each month that cost $156.00. I have $6.79 left in my bank account to now cover gas, groceries, and miscellaneous items that always arise. I am currently in debt from not being able to pay all of my bills each month. I am $504 in debt to one student loan company and $672 to another.  My bank account currently sits at $0.64. I have another week before payday.

If you would so willing to help explain to me what I can do about this I would greatly appreciate it.  I am trying extremely hard each month to make it day to day. I often go without food in order to make sure that my daughter is provided for.  I depend on the charity of friends to help cook me dinner with leftovers since they know how hard I am struggling. I have sold off everything I can in my household to try to supplement my income and I try to pick up babysitting jobs or tutoring to make ends meet.  I am asking for your help as my local representative with this. I know I am not the only teacher in this situation. I realize that some strides are being taken to help with teacher pay but I need help now. If I would be able to get any kind of assistance I would be more than grateful.

It’s hard to imagine being less in tune to the realities of life for a North Carolina public school teacher than the Republican Party is right now. 

Earlier this month our General Assembly passed a bill which was inaccurately titled the “Strengthening Educators’ Pay Act.” The legislation would have given teachers in years 0-15 no raise at all for the next two years and increased salaries approximately $50 a month for the majority of teachers at 16 years and up. 

That bill was so insulting to North Carolina’s educators, especially when paired with the massive corporate tax cut passed at the same time, that Governor Cooper vetoed it and asked the legislature to do better.  Cooper even offered to negotiate salary increases for educators independent of the Medicaid expansion issue which has been at the heart of our 4 month budget impasse.

General Assembly leadership responded by adjourning until mid January.

When North Carolina teachers have to go hungry in order to provide for their children, you know the problem of underfunded schools has gotten really serious. When a high-ranking representative of the majority party refuses to accept that reality, it’s painfully clear that relying on our state legislature to step up and do the right thing is unrealistic.  It’s an incredibly sad state of affairs.

At this point all we can really do is hope that better days lie ahead.

No decent raises for NC’s educators, but ineffective standardized test bonuses continue

While North Carolina’s state legislators settle in for a two month break from the exhausting business of not negotiating a state budget, educators across the state are hard at work serving this year’s students on last year’s salary.  

To be clear, the General Assembly did pass a bill which would have increased some educator salaries, but it was so insulting that Governor Cooper vetoed it and asked them to do better.  That bill would have given no raise to teachers in years 0-15 and just $50 a month more to the majority of experienced teachers teachers at 16 years and up.  Our schools’ non-certified staff–custodians, cafeteria employees, instructional assistants, etc.–would have fared even worse under the bill, with paychecks going up less than $20 a month in most cases.

Lawmakers also passed another massive corporate tax cut, though, one which would have taken a billion dollars in revenue off the table over the next 5 years.  Thank God for that gubernatorial veto.

Despite our legislature’s failure on teacher salary, there will be some sizable direct deposits made to teacher accounts in the new year.  Because they are paid by recurring funds, bonuses for standardized test scores are still on for school year 2019-2020.

After Read to Achieve failed to move the needle on student reading achievement, Phil Berger and company rolled out bonuses in 2016, thinking the promise of higher pay might lead to higher test scores.  Apparently the theory was teachers were holding back their best teaching ideas and waiting for just the right moment to use them.  

Bonuses are paid to the top 25% according to EVAAS scores, and in some cases can reach as high as $9,000 for individual teachers.  This year a total of almost $39 million will be spent on the financial incentives.

What are we getting for that money?  

According to EOG proficiency scores, third grade reading achievement is actually worse off now than it was before the General Assembly started waving the carrot:

North Carolina’s third grade reading data is consistent with the findings of Award-winning Harvard economist Roland Fryer, who set out to learn whether the New York City Department of Education’s bonuses actually led to better outcomes for students.  Fryer’s research determined that it didn’t.  Not only that, the practice of dangling money in front of teachers may have made things worse, by encouraging teaching to the test and damaging the collaboration so necessary for healthy school culture:

“I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools.”

North Carolina’s bonus scheme hasn’t worked so far, and I highly doubt this is the year it finally clicks. Perhaps instead of continuing to waste taxpayer dollars in this manner we should use that $39 million to hire some school counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists and make a real difference in the lives of North Carolina’s children.

The truth about the General Assembly’s inadequate educator pay raise bill

Last week the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill entitled “Strengthening Educators’ Pay Act” almost entirely along party lines.  As the public waits to see whether Governor Cooper will sign the bill or veto it, it’s worth taking a closer look at exactly what this bill does–and what it doesn’t do.

But first, let’s review what Governor Cooper himself proposed on educator pay.  

In early July, Cooper sent a budget compromise to leaders in the General Assembly calling for an increase in teacher pay which would average 8.5% over two years, restoration of master’s degree supplements that state legislators stripped in 2013, and a 5% pay increase for non-certified school staff, among other things.  

That proposal was met with cricket noises from the legislature.

Now state lawmakers have passed a new educator pay raise bill and sent it to the Governor.  

Here’s what the General Assembly’s bill would do for educators this year and next:  

  • Teachers with 16-20  years of experience will receive a $50/month increase for 2019-20 as compared to last year’s salary schedule.  For school year 2020-21, teachers with that amount of experience will receive a $50/month increase.
  • Teachers with 21-24  years of experience will receive a $150/month increase as compared to last year’s salary schedule.  For school year 2020-21, teachers with that amount of experience will receive a $50/month increase.
  • Teachers with 25 or more  years of experience will receive a $60/month increase as compared to last year’s salary schedule.  For school year 2020-21, teachers with that amount of experience will receive a $50/month increase.

While there is some variance in raises based upon level of experience, in general the additional pay should just about cover the case of copy paper you’ll still need to buy after the General Assembly cut funding for classroom supplies 55% over the last decade, perhaps with enough left over for a couple tanks of gas to get you to your second job.  

It’s also important to note that, for the 2020-21 school year, the language of the bill reads “it is the intent of the General Assembly” to raise salaries rather than using the word “shall” as it does for the current school year.  That means the raises for next year are not guaranteed.

If teachers with 0-15 years of experience are wondering what kind of raises they’ll see over the next two school years, there’s news on that front as well. 

For school year 2019-20, here’s the pay raise those teachers will receive:

For school year 2020-21 this will be their increase:

In addition to falling far short of his compromise when it comes to teacher pay, the new bill on its way to Governor’s Cooper’s desk includes no restoration of master’s pay. Nor will the 12 month non-certified staff get the 5% raise the Governor sought.  Instead, they will receive a meager 1% increase in salary in 2019-20. For 2020-21 the bill calls for another 1% raise but again refers to “intent” rather than saying it “shall” happen, meaning the increase is not guaranteed for the following year. Also, any non-certified employees who work less than 12 months will receive a prorated increase rather than the full 1%.  So, for example, a 10-month employee would receive an insulting .83% raise.

Politically, the intent of state legislators is to pressure Cooper to either sign a bill which falls far short of what our public schools deserve or risk accusations that he is failing to support educators:  “Why do you hate teachers so much, Governor??”

It’s the General Assembly equivalent of the classic “Why are you hitting yourself?” bully move.

State lawmakers need to know that public school educators and the general public are smarter than that.  We see how you are conducting business without basic integrity, refusing to negotiate in good faith and attempting to ram an unpalatable budget through by simply waiting for Democrats to be absent for the vote.  We see that your latest tax cut over the next four years will deprive us of more than $1 billion in revenue that is sorely needed in our schools in order to reduce costs for corporations that already enjoy the North Carolina’s lowest corporate tax rate in the country.  

I don’t speak for every educator in the state, but I can promise I speak for a lot of us when I say that we believe our public schools deserve better than what the General Assembly is trying to pawn off on us.  

That’s why we will fully support Governor Cooper’s veto of this teacher pay bill.