RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The state Board of Education will hear about a proposal this week that could lead to higher pay for many teachers but also significantly change how to determine who gets the highest salaries.
The licensing and pay proposal would replace the existing salary schedule, which is based on seniority. Instead, a new approach would have many teachers beginning at a higher salary than they do now, but also links pay raises to various performance measures such as test scores, reviews by their colleagues and students, as well as additional responsibilities they take on.
Under the proposal, beginning teachers would make $45,000, which is higher than the current starting rate of just over $35,000. Additionally, pay could exceed $70,000, which is also higher than the current state salary schedule, which peaks at $52,680.
The Department of Public Instruction declined to make anyone available for an interview about the proposal, as spokesperson Blair Rhoades said it is “nowhere near the final draft.”
During a meeting last week, a committee that’s been studying the issue debated the proposal for about an hour-and-a-half.
Amid some critical questions about the proposal, DPI’s Dr. Tom Tomberlin told the group, “I don’t think we can have good, honest, intellectual conversations about this if this is going to be couched in there’s some nefarious purpose underlying all of the work that went into this.”
He noted that the proposal would not lead to existing teachers seeing their pay cut.
Wake County social studies teacher Kim Mackey raised concerns about some aspects of the plan and questioned whether it would actually address the issue of the teacher pipeline.
“It seems more of an insistence on doing something new and different, as opposed to something that could be effective,” said Mackey. “Those folks who are trying to keep things together are burning out and then they’re leaving the pipeline as well. And, it just doesn’t seem helpful to create that as part of the model.”
The Department of Public Instruction released a report last month showing about 8.2 percent of teachers left their jobs in public schools between March 2020 and March 2021. That was up from about 7.5 percent in the previous year. However, DPI noted the number was “only marginally higher” than what it was in the three years before that.
“This plan that’s being drafted and out there seems like it would do more to get some of my colleagues to lose hope and have fewer great teachers in the classroom,” said Mackey.
Terry Stoops, the director of the Center for Effective Education at the conservative John Locke Foundation, called the proposal “long-overdue.”
“I think it’s very, very important to rethink the way we pay teachers in North Carolina because of some of the attrition that we’ve seen, especially with our best and brightest leaving,” he said. “This is a ground-breaking proposal that really has the potential to transform North Carolina’s public school system in a way that we haven’t seen in any other state.”
The state Board of Education will hear about the proposal Wednesday. Rhoades said after the board gives feedback it could be another four to six weeks until it’s “more solidified.” The Republican-controlled General Assembly also would have to be willing to fund it.