by | Feb 7, 2014 | Editor's Blog, Education, NC Politics, NCGA | 4 comments

The debate over teacher pay raises is over, at least as far as the general public is concerned. The Republicans announced they would roll out a plan next week and now the N.C. Chamber, the advocacy arm of the GOP, has laid out their vision. In a full-page ad in the News & Observer, the Chamber says “We simply can’t afford to lose our best and brightest teachers to other states.” It also calls for raising “the salaries of entry-level teachers to the national average.”

It’s a smart move. They have essentially co-opted the language of the progressives while adding a few caveats  that the general public won’t notice. Republicans in the legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory will almost certainly endorse this or a very similar plan.

The plan may be less than the across-the-board raises that progressives and NCAE are demanding but the public is not going to understand the nuance. Average voters, who just barely catch policy debates out of the corner of their ears, will hear “pay raise for teachers” and, maybe, “national average.” If Democrats oppose the plan too vigorously, then the voters will hear, “Democrats oppose the teacher pay raise.” And GOP-allied mailers or ads will certainly reinforce that notion.

It’s similar to what Bill Clinton did with welfare reform. In the 1990s, Republicans used welfare reform as both a wedge issue and the central tenet of their campaign platform. Clinton pushed through his own version and while the GOP griped that it was too little, the plan passed and Clinton got credit.

That’s where progressives are today. While the details of the pay plan are yet to emerge, progressives would be smart to claim victory and move on to the next problem. There are certainly plenty of them. Focus on class size, teacher assistants, school supplies, per pupil spending, but the salary debate over is for this year.


  1. troy

    That’s the problem now and why teachers in this State find themselves in the quandary they presently experience; the politicians choose to declare victory and “move on.”

    What was won and who won it?

    Surely the teachers haven’t won anything. The Governor’s new pay plan is a flat piece of posturing that solves nothing, long term. Raise the starting pay. Raise the pay of those teachers who perform well and are STEM teachers. Provide for those teachers from hire to year five. Make raises conducive to market conditions. Those are the big ticket details from the Governor’s pay plan. If you don’t teach in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math, if you teach children who have minimal capacity to learn, you need to find yourself a hole and crawl in, because no one is going to listen, acknowledge, or look after you.

    It doesn’t take a crystal ball or a seat on the Governor’s Inner Advisory Circle to see that that the intent here is to drive out mid-level to senior educators and replace them with all of these new graduates at a higher salary than some of those mid-level educators are making. And after doing so, education will look just like DEHNR does now. Then after five years under McCroryism, that crop of educators will be expected to rotate out, since it’s quite likely that market conditions will have changed to something else by then.

    That’s the implementation model and victory has been declared. In that context, I guess it has been won.

    • Thomas Mills

      Nobody won, Troy. Unfortunately, given the make up of the general assembly, Democrats cannot block or pass legislation. My point is they need to be bashing Republicans in hopes of being able do one of the two. They can’t win policy fights but they might be able to win the political one that Republicans have harmed education. Declare victory in that the GOP felt the need to do something and then bash them for doing too little, too late. Democrats need to lead with the punch but are leading with policy instead.

      • troy

        I concur.

        Republicans have proven that if you keep talking about it, whether it’s true or not, long enough people will start to buy in, so, why aren’t Democrats lamenting the de-funding of public education while funding vouchers? Why teacher tenure was cut and not that bend it, twist it, and make it up answer that was provided originally. How teacher and State employee pay has slammed in to the bottom since the McCrory administration became the rubber stamp implementer of some of the most egregious legislation since re-construction.


        Those points need to be made singularly, not collectively. The Republican caucus needs to be held accountable on each and every damning piece of legislation they’ve enacted; anything and everything to keep this amalgam of fools’ errands on the minds of the people.

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