I just found out today that our state’s new governor gave his new cabinet an 11 percent increase in salary this year, not long after taking the oath of office. Now, let’s get this out there before you start saying that I am biased: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian — I do not care. This is an issue that crosses party lines and should unite us, not divide us;after all, the reproduction of offspring that will, eventually, need to be educated is not limited to the GOP nor the DNC.
Now, I know I am a little late to the game on this topic, but as a teacher I spend most of my nights working on grading, lesson planning, attending my students’ ball games, or working on any number of numerous other jobs that I am in charge of as an educator. So, excuse me for my tardiness folks.
Let’s look at some numbers first. That 11 percent increase he awarded those four ever-important budget commanders equals out to a $13,200 increase per year in income. That’s almost half the salary of an incoming teacher for the first two years of educating. Oh, and teachers in the state of North Carolina have not seen a true pay increase in the past five years. Yes, FIVE years. That $13,200 increase is also much higher than the per pupil spending in North Carolina, which was estimated to be around $8,565 this school year. No, I am not saying we necessarily need to be spending over $13,000 per student in NC (though I could easily argue that it would not hurt), I do understand budget constraints in our current economy. However, when you look at the fact that North Carolina ranks in the bottom 10 percent in education in our nation (we are 46th in the nation for funding), such disparities in budgeting seem alarming.
In his defense of the measure, Gov. McCrory stated that he was “trying to make it at least where they can afford to live while running multibillion-dollar departments.” Touché. However, let’s look back at that math. Their salary prior to the pay hike was a measly $121, 807, as set in state law. Now they make a more respectable $135,000. Thank you sweet baby Jesus! True, there is the education lottery here in NC now. I was even once a proponent of the measure. Now, every time I pass a store or see a commercial that says “North Carolina Education Lottery,” I just laugh — especially considering the continual decline in our education budgets following the implementation of the so-called “education” lottery.
We can talk about debt all we want, but at what point are we going to start getting just as mad that our politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are harming our children, and the destiny of our nation, far more when they deplete their educational opportunities through continual budget cuts to education?
Let’s face it, when a budget needs cutting, education is always first on the chopping block. Our teachers are hard working, dedicated, loving individuals who we each entrust every day with the welfare and education of our nation’s future. They go into work early, they stay all day, a majority go home and continue to work well into the night and weekends. Many coach students and/or serve as advisors to student clubs. They help plan proms, pageants, school fundraisers, and community service events. They attend parent conferences for 30 plus kids while also having to deal with the day-to-day classroom struggles which, for many, includes handling physical altercations between students both during and in-between designated class times. They write letters of recommendations to help child get into college. They help mold and develop young minds to become great thinkers, orators and problem-solvers. They love their students and care for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They spend their summer days “off” coming up with new class materials, researching the latest developments in their subject matter, and attending workshops to become better at their job to help better serve your child.
No, they may not handle “multibillion-dollar budgets,” Mr. Governor, but they do handle priceless lives every day. We continue to ask more of them and give nothing in return, and yet we still question why so many of our teacher’s are stressed to the point of leaving the job they love. No, throwing money at the problem is not the solution, but taking it away or allocating it elsewhere certainly isn’t either.