Is $35,000 good money for first year teachers?
That’s the question State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson inadvertently set off earlier this week with his comment that a $35,000 starting salary was “good money” for young teachers.
That comment — along with Johnson’s presence at a school choice celebration — was enough for Mark Jewell, president of the local NEA affiliate, the North Carolina Association of Educators, to not invite Johnson to the NCAE convention later this spring. It was the first time in 48 years NCAE has failed to extend an invitation to a sitting State Superintendent.
A spokesman for Johnson’s office later walked back his comments to say that $35,000 was above the median income in numerous counties (a true statement). Nevertheless, the damage was done.
NCAE’s hyperventilating obscures some simple and important facts: $35,000 is not the starting salary for most teachers in North Carolina. All but six LEAs in the state offer a salary supplement to teachers to boost teacher pay. Teacher salary supplements range from a low of $200 in Allegheny County to $8,485 in Wake County. In 2017, the average salary supplement for teachers across North Carolina was $4,194.
So, is $35,000 good money? The real question should be : Is $39,194 good money?
Yes, there is still much to be done to improve teacher pay in North Carolina.Boosting starting teacher pay to $35,000, providing average teacher pay raises of 7, 2.1, 4.7 and 3 percent over the last four years is a good start. As is providing nearly 9,000 elementary and middle school teachers with merit bonuses of up to $9,700 for improvements in student achievement scores.
It’s progress, but for some, it’s never enough.