Gov. McCrory made his long-awaited announcement on education this morning in Greensboro. In it the Governor laid out his immediate and long-term plans for addressing the teacher pay issue. Major elements of the plan include:
- Will keep promise to increase teacher base pay to $35,000
- Provide immediate raises for all teachers. Teachers in steps 8-12 would receive raises ranging from 2.8 percent to 4.3 percent. Raises in subsequent steps would average about 2 percent
- Develop Career Pathways Initiative for Teachers – Plan allows teachers to earn more money for leadership roles in schools, teaching high need subjects or serving in high-need schools. $9 million is budgeted to establish 8 pilot projects in schools around North Carolina. The Initiative would be ready to apply statewide in 2017-18.
McCrory also referenced changes in his upcoming budget impacting education. These include:
- Expand funding for early childhood education by $3.6 million.
- Restoration of salary supplements of 10 percent for teachers who earn advanced degrees in the subject that they teach.
- Doubles budget for textbooks to $46 million.
- Establishes scholarship fund to provide veterans with in-state tuition.
- Provides raises of $1,000 including benefits to state employees. Raises will average to about 2 percent.
McCrory’s plans are ambitious. After a quick first reading, there are things to like. There is a focus on linking pay to performance. Decision making authority is pushed down to the local level. And, there is a reality that education personnel operate in different labor markets school leaders need the flexibility to respond accordingly. On the down side; pay is still tied to experience. In large part, the salary schedule still drives pay. And lastly, I’m not entirely happy about the restoration of masters pay. The research still shows the impact of a masters degree on improved student performance is sketchy. All that said, McCrory’s plan get’s the discussion going and it’s a good first step of a very long process that involves both short-term and long-term solutions. Career Pathways will be getting a closer look as is it should as well Lt. Governor Dan Forest’s plan to supplement teacher pay which will be released later this afternoon.
One thing missing from the Governor’s discussion — cost. The final shape of any plan will be dictated by available state revenues. Right now state revenues are running about $450 million below expectations. In addition there is also concern that Medicaid costs will continue to expand and soak up any cost savings. Not good news for a challenge that needs to be addressed.