Tag Archives: Teacher Pay

North Carolina Teacher Pay


With all of the news out of North Carolina, it would be understandable if you hadn’t heard of this:

Raleigh, N.C. – New rankings of average teacher pay across all 50 states and the District of Columbia show that North Carolina teacher pay is increasing faster than any other state in the country.

Data from the National Education Association shows that North Carolina has moved up six spots in the rankings of average teacher salaries since the 2013-2014 school year, the single-biggest improvement of any state in the country. North Carolina has also seen the largest average gains in teacher pay in the country over that same time period, according to the data.

During the 2015-2016 school year, North Carolina’s average teacher salary of $47,985 ranked 41st in the nation. When the data is adjusted for cost-of-living, North Carolina ranks 33rd in the nation for teacher pay, according to preliminary analysis by the John Locke Foundation.

Teacher Pay In North Carolina

Corporate Competition

I need to stipulate three things: 1.  I used to be a senior high math teacher 2.  I work in corporate America in a highly competitive environment 3.  I am payed more than both the national average and mean Okay, teacher pay, here in NC it’s pretty bad:

Under the current state base pay scale, a teacher who started in the system with no experience would take 16 years to reach a $40,000 salary. North Carolina school teachers have only seen one one raise since 2008, which was 1.2 percent.

Like I said, pretty bad.  And we need to improve it. But let’s think about why.  Do we wanna pay teachers more because we only love them and think they deserve more pay?  No, at least not me.  I wanna pay teachers more because by creating the incentive to be a teacher, you attract better teachers. And why do we want better teachers?

The work of Bill Sanders, formerly at the University of Tennessee’s Value-Added Research and Assessment Center, has been pivotal in reasserting the importance of the individual teacher on student learning.4  One aspect of his research has been the additive or cumulative effect of teacher effectiveness on student achievement. Over a multi-year period, Sanders focused on what happened to students whose teachers produced high achievement versus those whose teachers produced low achievement results. He discovered that when children, beginning in 3rd grade, were placed with three high-performing teachers in a row, they scored on average at the 96th percentile on Tennessee’s statewide mathematics assessment at the end of 5th grade. When children with comparable achievement histories starting in 3rd grade were placed with three low-performing teachers in a row, their average score on the same mathematics assessment was at the 44th percentile,5  an enormous 52-percentile point difference for children who presumably had comparable abilities and skills.

And how good are we at measuring teacher effectiveness?  Well, consider this:

The vast majority of school districts in the U.S. presently use teacher evaluation systems that result in nearly all teachers receiving uniformly high ratings.  For instance, a recent study by The New Teacher Project of twelve districts in four states revealed that more than 99 percent of teachers in districts using binary ratings were rated satisfactory whereas 94 percent received one of the top two ratings in districts using a broader range of ratings.[i]  As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put it, “Today in our country, 99 percent of our teachers are above average.”


We have no useful or meaningful way of evaluating a teacher’s effectiveness.  And that has to change.  We not only need to identify the best teachers and reward them appropriately, we need to identify poor teachers and remove them from our schools. And we have to go further. We need to pay more for the teachers teaching subjects we value more.  For instance – there is no reason that an elementary music teacher or a physical education teacher.

Further, raises and bonuses need to be assigned proportionately – the better the teacher the higher the raise.  And bonus. Some say that this will create a corrosive culture and pit teacher against teacher.  I dispute this theory and point to corporate America as my example. As I mentioned above, I live in corporate America and am compensated relatively well.

I earn more than some of my peers and less than others.  I achieve stronger raises than some and less than others; bonuses in the same manner.  And I ave yet to feel a level of resentment that leads to less collaboration or cooperation. In fact, the reverse is true – I see that it increases such traits as fellow co-workers seek to emulate the stronger employee. The pay of our teachers is a disgrace.  But the method by which we determine pay is a direct result of the teacher’s unions and needs to be scrapped for a merit system without tenure.

Teacher Compensation: North Carolina


How Much To Pay A Teacher

I was a teacher.  My dad retired a teacher.  Many friends and family are still teachers.  Further, other than that family, teachers were some of the most influential people in my life  hell, one teacher is largely responsible for the man I am today.

And my kids have teachers.  Lots of ’em.

I. Love. Teachers

So, when asked how much we should pay teachers I come back to this:

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Governor McCrory – Tests and Pay

Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory and the republican legislature have taken significant heat for their budget and how it impacts education in North Carolina.  However, missed have been two important policies:

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Days after a crowd of angry educators marched on the State Capitol to protest changes to public school spending in the state budget, Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday proposed a fund to reward “master teachers” and cutting the number of standardized tests required in North Carolina classrooms.

Speaking at the North Carolina Chamber’s annual education conference in Chapel Hill, McCrory said business owners repeatedly tell him that they cannot find qualified employees for their job openings. The state needs to do more to prepare students for the workforce, he said.

“When employers are begging for qualified applicants in a state with the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation … that tells me we have a disconnect between commerce and education,” he said. “All of us need to come together and eliminate this gap.”

McCrory said he wants to create a $30 million Education Innovation Fund with federal Race to the Top grant money to pay for digital classroom initiatives and trailblazing schools and to reward teachers. Under the program, at least 1,000 teachers selected by their peers statewide would receive $10,000 stipends to implement career- and college-ready standards.

“These master teachers will be working and taking input from their colleagues and will serve as a direct conduit to North Carolina’s educational leaders as to what’s working in our classrooms and what isn’t working and what should be tossed aside,” he said. “(These) teachers will not only be teaching students, they will be schooling us in the most important subject in education – what works actually in the classroom.”

Calling the state’s pay scale for teachers “archaic,” he said the stipends would begin the shift toward rewarding classroom expertise and provide recognition for North Carolina’s top teachers.

The governor also called for cutting “ineffective and burdensome testing” in North Carolina classrooms. The number of mandatory exams in Mecklenburg County, for example, is approaching 200 per year in grades 4-12, he said.

I think it’s irresponsible to take a position that republicans don’t value education in the same way that democrats do, or the left do.  Rather it’s important that reasonable people can be expected to have different methods to the same problem.

Merit Based Teacher Salary

I grew up the son of a teacher.  Then I became a teacher.  Though, to be fair, I only lasted a single year.  It was a small town, a “negotiation” year and I really didn’t like the whole incentive thing.  As a result of the negotiations, which were conducted by a small negotiation team made up of men, the compensation system in the contract changed.  Teachers are paid based on a grid.  New rookie teachers with no more education than a bachelors degree start in the upper left hand corner of that grid.  For every year of experience, they get to “step” down the grid and get a raise.  The further down you go, the more you make.  Teachers can also move across the grid.  They do this by obtaining more education.  When they acquire enough, they are said to change “lanes” and move from the left to the right.

The highest paid teachers are in the lower right corner of the grid.

I lost faith when I realized, very quickly, that I would never catch up to the old crummy teachers I worked with.  And when that negotiating team reduced the number of lanes from 9 to 3 in exchange for higher coaches salaries [the negotiation team consisted of mostly coaches].

I now have no ties to education save that my kids are in school.  Further, I am in an occupation where I am not in a union.  My continued employment is dictated by market conditions combined with my ability to produce value for my bosses.  Further, my salary is determined by the success of the firm and my contribution to it.

The better I do the more I make and the stronger my job security is.  The converse is true.

It is my love of teachers and the role they play in the development of our kids AND the power of market based incentives that makes me love this story of merit based teacher’s salaries:

WASHINGTON — During her first six years of teaching in this city’s struggling schools, Tiffany Johnson got a series of small raises that brought her annual salary to $63,000, from about $50,000. This year, her seventh, Ms. Johnson earns $87,000.

That latest 38 percent jump, unheard of in public education, came after Ms. Johnson was rated “highly effective” two years in a row under Washington’s new teacher evaluation system. Those ratings also netted her back-to-back bonuses totaling $30,000.

In my calculus, the district accomplished two things:

  1. It created a massive incentive to perform.
  2. It created a massive incentive to continue teaching.

“Lots of teachers leave the profession, but this has kept me invested to stay,” said Ms. Johnson, 29, who is a special-education teacher at the Ron H. Brown Middle School in Northeast Washington. “I know they value me.”

I love this statement:  “This has kept me invested to stay.”


When an organization values an employee it helps retain that employee.  When that value takes the additional value of added pay, that retention is even greater!

On the other hand, there is the opposite phenomena  , one that I consider more dangerous to the education of our kids; the incentives provided to the poorest performing teachers:

Under the system, known as Impact Plus, teachers rated “highly effective” earn bonuses ranging from $2,400 to $25,000. Teachers who get that rating two years in a row are eligible for a large permanent pay increase to make their salary equivalent to that of a colleague with five more years of experience and a more advanced degree.

Those rewards come with risk: to receive the bonuses and raises, teachers must sign away some job security provisions outlined in their union contract. About 20 percent of the teachers eligible for the raises this year and 30 percent of those eligible for bonuses turned them down rather than give up those protections.

There are teachers who are SO concerned with losing their jobs that they turned down the money.  Turned. Down. The. Money.

Two things:

  1. These are teachers we should work to remove.
  2. These teachers WERE compensated for their labor.  The fact that they value job security MORE than the money does NOT mean that they didn’t receive anything of value.

I look forward to continued market based, merit based teacher compensation.

How To Fix Public Schools

I just thought of this.  If you wanna fix public schools, or at least improve them dramatically AND increase the pay of teachers, just follow these simple three rules:

  1. Find some way to identify the bottom 10% of teachers.
  2. Fire them.
  3. Do this every year.

If you object to this, you are more interested in keeping shitty teachers in jobs than you are seriously worried about kids getting a good education.

Education should not be a “Make Work Pay” program.

Public School Teachers: Compensation

Can you imagine working in an environment that doesn’t reward merit?

In that vein, here are some complains I have regarding public education:

  1. Compensation takes many forms.  Days off, training, health care and what not.  One form of compensation is that of being safe from firing for poor performance.  This pushes down the salaries of teachers.
    1. Competent highly motivated people willingly trade such safety nets for higher salaries.  They have no fear of being perceived as incompetent.  Find a teacher unwilling to fire poor performs, rest assured that you are speaking to a poor performer.
  2. Highly motivated proficient teachers have no hope of earning more than older incompetent teachers.  This applies downward pressure on innovation and motivation.
  3. Teachers complain that salaries can not be merit based because there is no good method to measure merit.  Teachers fight tests and test scores in the same way a vampire fights garlic and mirrors.

Much of the reason teachers feel underpaid is due directly to how the system is set up.