RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Members of the North Carolina Association of Educators on Tuesday criticized a proposal to change how teachers are licensed and paid, as state education officials said North Carolina is facing a “crisis.” 

The proposal could lead to teachers making more money than they do currently, but pay would no longer be based on the teacher’s years on the job. Instead, it would be tied to effectiveness. 

“We deserve to be paid for our experience without jumping through hoops or wondering if this year’s paycheck will be different than next year’s,” Kiana Espinoza said, an eighth-grade English teacher in Wake County. “I’m not suggesting anything complicated. I think what we’re all suggesting is we just need a raise.” 

While the proposal could be revised further before going to the state Board of Education later this year, beginning teachers would make $45,000, which is higher than the current starting rate of $37,000. Additionally, pay could exceed $70,000, which is also higher than the current state salary, that peaks at $54,000. 

The plan aims to reward the most effective teachers, tying their raises to measures such as test scores, assessments by their colleagues and students for taking on additional responsibilities.  

The NCAE held a press conference Tuesday morning outside the state education building, saying the plan could lead to more teaching to the test and that standards could be vague. 

The group called for taking steps such as raising starting pay to $45,000 a year, boosting pay for veteran teachers and hiring 7,000 teaching assistants.  

“We don’t have to come up with new schemes. We already know what works,” NCAE Vice President Bryan Proffitt said. “We just need to fund that and commit to building that school system.”

Eric Davis, the chair of the state Board of Education, defended the proposal during a board meeting last week. 

“Our state is in a teaching crisis,” he said. “It’s having a significant negative impact on today’s students, and if not corrected, will damage our state for generations to come.” 

He added that the proposal “better supports teachers throughout their careers both financially and professionally and rewards teachers for creating better outcomes for our students.” 

Davis noted that teaching vacancies are “soaring” and argued the current licensing system creates barriers. 

Espinoza is wondering how much longer she’ll continue to teach.

She said she’d like to have kids of her own one day and worries her profession won’t pay enough to help support a family.  

“Can I keep doing this?” she asked. “What I see when I look around is people have kids and they can’t afford childcare as a teacher. And, that’s sad.”