John Peters (editor of the Mount Airy News), wrote a piece a few days (Feb. 22, 2014) ago concerning teacher pay that failed to address the real issues. In this letter I will address what he said and offer my own analysis as a political scientist.
The fact of the matter is, John Peters showed his lack of understanding of politics when he stated this, “It looks like [McCrory], or one of his staffers, decided on the spur of the moment to throw teachers a bone, with no thought to the larger implications of what they are doing.”
If you look at the context you will see that this was actually a very calculated move. First and foremost, this is an election year. The Senate seat that is to be voted on is quite contested and the races in the 2nd, 6th, and 12th districts are just a few of the interesting races in North Carolina.
Recently, the GOP-led North Carolina government decided that it would no longer offer salary increases for teachers that gained their masters degree. This discourages highly qualified teachers from coming to North Carolina and discourages our current teachers from continuing their own education. This is on top of the comparatively low starting salary. So the idea that this pay raise for starting teachers is “throwing a bone” to teachers is ludicrous. What the pay increase will do is serve as “proof” that North Carolina Republicans are “pro-teacher.”
One point that I agree with Peters on is that current teachers are likely to be rather upset with the fact that these new teachers will get paid more for no reason and they get nothing. I disagree with his negative connotation of the North Carolina Association of Educators. Perhaps Peters would like to explain, in detail, to the local presidents Melva Edmisten, Christeen Knight, and Liesa Hawks. These are people working to improve our education environment by having the most qualified teachers with the best possible support system.
Peters also makes another well taken point in that teachers who make more money in states such as New York or California may not be better off than someone making less in North Carolina. But how about this, the Washington Post reports that North Carolina ranks 47th in average teacher salary in the U.S. So when Peters say: “Yet the teacher association uses such figures to imply North Carolina teachers are being left in the dust by other states when it comes to pay.” I can only assume that he won’t be persuaded until we are dead last.
So yes, John Peters is absolutely right when he says that there is more to the story. Don’t let the establishment tell you how to think. Do your own research, look at the facts, and then formulate an educated opinion. This is going to be an important election year for all levels of government. Get out and vote in the primary and general elections this year.