On Teacher Pay

Please note that this is not the only thing I’ve written about teacher pay.  In March of 2020, I did weeks worth of research to write an article on my blog called “The Teacher Pay Argument With the Help of Math and Facts.”  Click on that if you have a spare 15 minutes.  It’s pretty eye-opening.  Actually, the one below is, too.

3-5 Minute Read

First of all, I started writing this doing my level best to begin with a section that was simply called “By the Numbers” with the intention of comparing “liberal” sites with “conservative” sites and all the propagandized “teacher pay averages” they spew forth, but I gave up.  Both sides of our legislature do nothing but their damnedest to make the other side look like crap, they fudge numbers to make their contributions to teachers look better than the other party, they use deceit to make you believe that teachers have gotten such amazing pay raises lately but forget to let you in on the fact that we haven’t even kept up with inflation, they stole longevity pay and stuck it back in as a “pay raise,” and they even put administrators salaries in with teachers to generate inflated averages.  

And by the way, that last sentence could have kept going for several pages.  Lawmakers refuse to tell the truth behind teacher pay. And why is that? Well, that’s a damn good question.  Since when are teachers the bad guys? Seems a little odd to show such political disdain for the ones responsible for molding our next generation, but I digress.

And on the topic of political disdain for education, how about EVERY state employee getting a $15 minimum wage in 2018 EXCEPT public school employees?  So the people who we trust to get our students to and from school safely, the people who cook our children’s breakfasts and lunches, and the people who keep our schools clean are not as important as the guy who holds the stop sign at the beginning of work zones?  It’s hard to see that as anything other than a great big “Screw You” to school employees.  But why?

Anyway, back to teacher pay.  The point is that I’m going a different route than trying to decipher and compare the false statistics that fill the propaganda coffers of our two wonderful political parties.  I’m simply going to compare teachers on a red apples to green apples basis with other state workers with similar education requirements and starting salaries. And let’s go basic, too. I’m talking about nothing but the name of the job, the starting salary, the maximum salary, and whether or not a college degree is required.  And before you ask, this does not include county teaching supplements (hello $3K per year before taxes!!!!!) because some counties don’t give supplements at all. It also does not include Masters pay (because the legislature took that away) or National Board Certification (because only about ten percent of teachers have that, and the legislature took away all help in paying for it.)

So here’s a quick table for comparison.  All salaries below have been taken solely from the State of North Carolina Compensation Pay Plan found at:

https://oshr.nc.gov/state-employee-resources/classification-compensation/compensation

All job openings listed here found on September 12, 2019 at the following site:  

governmentjobs.com/careers/northcarolina

Occupation Starting Salary ‘18-’19 Ending Salary ‘18-’19 College Degree Required?
Teacher $35,000 $52,000 Yes
Career Advisor 1 $33,960 $57,493 Yes
Accountant 1 $42,780 $72,424 Yes
EC Teacher – Juvenile Justice $46,200 $76,128 Yes
Dairy Unit Manager $42,780 $72,424 No
Administrative Officer – Ag Department $36,677 $62,092 Yes
HR Policy Consultant $51,895 $93,346 No
Highway Patrol Officer $44,000 $64,202 No

I tried to be fair and I clicked on about three dozen jobs with ending salaries LOWER than teachers, but I couldn’t find a single one that required a college degree.  And if you’ll notice the list above, there are three jobs with higher starting salaries AND ending salaries that do not require a college degree at all.  

I also did not include engineers, IT jobs, medical jobs, or anything that everybody in the world knows has a higher salary range than what could be considered average.  Not a single one of those jobs above could be considered “upper level” or anything. They’re just average state jobs. Based on the way the numbers fall, especially when one considers the education requirements to become a teacher, teachers are pretty far below average with respect to occupations within state government.  And that’s not taking sides at all.  Those are simple facts.  And by the way, if you need the teacher salary scale to make sure I’m telling the truth, it’s right here:

http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/finance/salary/schedules/2018-19schedules.pdf

A Few Really Tiresome Stereotypes

  1.  Everybody knows teachers don’t make much money.  Does everybody know why that needs to remain that way?  Teachers are pretty important people.
  1.  Teaching is a woman’s career, that’s why the pay is still low.  First, it isn’t just a woman’s career. Maybe in elementary those statistics say it is, but in high school, it most certainly is not.  Second, the stereotype of it being a woman’s job is definitely why I tend to agree that this has an effect on why pay is still so low, but are we really going to use that argument? You want to tell a woman in 2020 that she isn’t worth the same pay as a man?  I work with women that work twice as hard as me, and I work my ass off.
  1.  But teachers get the summers off.  Yes, yes they do. And if you know of any jobs that you can work for six weeks that will pay the ten grand we’re underpaid, and that job is available to all teachers, I’ll probably just work that job every summer and never mention teacher pay again.

My Fair, Common Sense Idea for Teacher Pay

I really don’t care if the General Assembly adjusts the starting salary all that much.  People right out of college should struggle a little bit. But I have an issue with the government telling veteran teachers that they get a total of $2,000 extra for the entirety of their last fifteen years teaching.  That’s just nutty. Look at the link above.  I’m not kidding.  They’re the most valuable people in education and we’re treating them like discarded textbooks.  

So here’s how you make it fair across the board.  Make the starting salary generally what it is now, somewhere in the $35,000 to $40,000 range.  From that point until year 30, teachers get a thousand dollars a year plus the previous year’s inflation.  So a person in year one makes $40,000 while a teacher in year eight makes $48,000  and a person in year twenty-two makes $62,000.  It’s simple and fair and you wouldn’t have a teacher in the state complaining about it.  

And you know what I come back to every single time?  Good teachers are not cheap, but we NEED good teachers if we are going to build all those little foundations the right way.  With teachers, you WILL get what you pay for, because the really good ones are smart enough to understand their value, and when they don’t feel valued, they absolutely SHOULD leave.  Life isn’t worth a career where your leaders show year after year how that they don’t really like you.