Teacher pay continues to be a much-discussed topic in North Carolina and nationally. The Civitas October poll asked respondents to answer the following question:
…” To the best of your knowledge, what is the average yearly salary of a teacher in North Carolina?”
How did respondents answer?
Under $40,000 – 54%
$40,000-$45,000 – 24%
$45,000-$50,000 – 15%
$50,000-$55,000 – 5%
More than $55,000 -2%
Some context: according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the average teacher salary in North Carolina is $51,214.
Fifty-four percent of respondents thought North Carolina teachers had an average salary of less than $40,000. Moreover, almost a quarter of respondents (24 percent) believe teachers earn an average salary between $40,000 -$45,000.
Five percent of respondents answered the question correctly. Moreover, 54 percent of respondents — over half of all respondents — thought teachers had an average salary of less than $40,000. Approximately another quarter (24 percent) believer teachers earn an average salary of between $40,000-$45,000. Thus, 3 out of 4 respondents believe teaches earn an average salary of $45,000 or less.
Are we merely looking at a statistical outlier?
A June 2018 Civitas Poll asked the same question. Thirty-four percent of respondents said the average teacher salary was under $40,000. Nine percent chose the correct answer, between $50,000-$55,000.
No matter your perspective on the issue of teacher pay, the responses are concerning. Education spending accounts for 58 percent of the state budget. Teacher salaries are the single biggest expenditure within the education budget. And you must wonder taxpayers don’t know how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.
Teacher pay is a topic that never seems to go away — even after five consecutive pay raises. That’s only possible because the discussion is dominated by misinformation – not facts.
It’s time to learn our lesson.