RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As thousands of teachers prepare to march in Raleigh to demand more funding for education, Republican legislative leaders highlighted recent raises teachers received and another raise anticipated next school year.
Senate President pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, said Tuesday teachers will receive an average 6.2 percent pay increase in the budget they expect to finalize in the next few weeks.
That will bring average teacher pay in North Carolina to $53,600.
“That’s a major step. I don’t see how anyone could say that’s not a major step. That’s huge. That’s more than a lot of people out there in the private sector are getting,” Moore said.
A recent report by the National Education Association ranks North Carolina 37th for teacher pay and 39th in per-pupil spending.
The budget proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper (D) would give teachers and average 8 percent pay increase, and bring North Carolina to the national average in teacher pay in four years.
“Instead of prioritizing tax cuts for corporations and those earning more than $200,000, legislators should give real raises to all teachers. Making education the top priority means more textbooks and classrooms, not more tax cuts for those already at the top,” said Noelle Talley, deputy communications director for Gov. Cooper.
Berger and Moore pointed to the furloughs and pay freezes that occurred about a decade ago when Democrats were in control. At the time, North Carolina was also grappling with most severe recession since the Great Depression.
Since then, education advocates say state lawmakers have not done enough to make up for years in which they gave no raises or to account for inflation.
“This is parents standing up and saying this is not normal. Our kids deserve better than what they’re getting from the General Assembly,” said Mark Jewell, president of the NC Association of Educators.
The state Republican Party has launched the website www.ncteacherraise.com to highlight the recent increases in teacher pay. The party’s executive director, Dallas Woodhouse, said the party is paying for ads that people within four to five miles of the legislative building will see Wednesday.