Teacher pay increment has dominated debates throughout 2016. However, the issue is often distorted by misleading statistics. Therefore, while addressing the issue of teachers’ pay, it is critical to understand the actual statistics of teachers pay. Throughout the previous periods, the media has been awash with information of the falling teachers’ pay in the North Carolina. In fact, the recent WRAL News Documentary exploited the subject by focusing mainly on the hardships faced by teachers, the relative position of North Carolina in respect to other states and possibility of pay increment in the General Assembly (Johnson 51). The teacher pay raises program illustrates the principal narrative of the leftist liberals and establishment of educational institutions. The only solution to the pay crisis that engulfs teachers is more money.
Across all debates, the consensus is that teachers’ salaries should be raised. Even in the Congress, a large percentage of legislatures agree on the need to raise teachers pay. However, the process of raising teachers’ pay began two years ago. The pay scale for entry-level teachers was raised to $35,000 per annum. Moreover, between 2014 and 2015, most teachers received 7% pay increase. Between 2015 and 2016, teachers received a 2.1% pay increment (Erickson 76). In fact, Governor McCrory put forward that seek to increase teachers’ pay passed $50,000. However, this does not suffice.
The main driving factor for the current debate on teachers’ salaries is the statistic on the national average salary for teachers. The data on national teachers’ average salaries is derived from surveys compiled and published in the National Education Association’s annual report dubbed Rankings & Estimates. According to the latest available data from the National Education Association (NEA) report, the average teachers’ salary in the United States averaged $56,610 between 2013 and 2014 (Sawchuk 13). On the other hand, the report shows that in the same period, the average salary of teachers in North Carolina averaged at $46,990. Thus, the report ranks North Carolina at position 47 out of the fifty states in the United States and Washington DC (Leachman 29). Reports indicate that during the 1990s, North Carolina was at position 20 in the average teachers’ pay scale. However, the current figures indicate a drastic fall in ranking from 20th to 40th in just over two decades. Therefore, legislators state that the problem that needs to be addressed urgently is the North Carolina’s low rankings. However, critics are questioning the application of national averages and salary rankings to determine the appropriate salary of teachers.
Some perspectives decline the application of the national averages and salary rankings in the determination of the appropriate salary for various reasons. For instance, policy makers often state that national averages represent figures that should apply equally across the nation, which does not happen. Furthermore, the national average figures do not consider the varying costs of living across different states (Feng 39). The costs of living are automatically higher in some states compared to others. For instance, it is more expensive to live in New York or Boston compared to other states such as Wilmington or Winston-Salem. These differences are not reflected in the national averages. Similarly, these national average figures do not factor in the local demographics. The high population growth in states such as North Carolina implies that more new teachers are hired to cater for the growing population of students. Thus, changes such as hiring new teachers will influence the average salary of teachers since new members of the teaching staff are in the lower cadres of the salary paying scale. On the other hand, states that are experiencing stable populations or even experiencing population declines such as the states in the Midwest are likely to have experienced teachers, which imply higher average salaries.
In the definition of the terminology, national average figure relates to a middle-range figure that falls between too high and too low salaries. Unfortunately, these are not what need to be done because it is a wide knowledge that high figures can distort averages. These appear as what happened in the states with higher average teachers’ salaries. For instance, states such as California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and the District of Columbia have invariable high teachers’ salaries averages above $70,000 (ELLIS 93). Therefore, figures from such states are likely to skew teachers’ average salaries in upward positions. Besides, adopting an average pay policy will influence negatively the teachers in well-paying states. According to the NEA data, 36 out of 50 states in the United States offer lower average teachers pay compared to the national average $56,610 (Simon 23). Therefore, this will provide a misleading statistics on the appropriate middle figure since the number of states providing lower pay than the national average is three-four times high than the states with high than national average pay. Thus, adopting such a middle figure will have a reverse effect.
Besides, the application of these national average salaries is mired with various non-statistical problems. The figures do not represent those facts in the labor market. The reality in the labor market would state that there does not exist such a thing as the national average salary (Danielewicz 106). The average salaries may fail to realize the disparities present in the environments where individuals work and live. Moreover, the figures fail to recognize that teachers pay in states such as Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee may have a significant effect on teachers pay in North Carolina than the national averages. Therefore, the policy makers should ensure the significance of the labor markets in the determination of an agreeable salary rather than propose for an arbitrary figure.
- Danielewicz, Jane. Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy, and teacher education. SUNY Press, 2014.
- Ellis, M., And Mark Ellis. “RACE And Philanthropy In Georgia In The 1920s.” American Educational History Journal: Volume 40# 1 & 2 (2013): 93.
- Erickson, Frank. “The Distribution of Teacher Quality across Heterogeneous School Districts: Evidence from North Carolina.” (2013).
- Feng, Li, and Tim R. Sass. “Teacher quality and teacher mobility.” Education Finance and Policy (2016).
- Johnson, Jerry, et al. “Why Rural Matters 2013-2014: The Condition of Rural Education in the 50 States.” Rural School and Community Trust (2014).
- Leachman, Michael, and Chris Mai. “Most states still funding schools less than before the recession.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2014).
- Sawchuk, Stephen. “Steep drops seen in teacher-prep enrollment numbers.” Education Week 34.9 (2014): 1.
- Simon, Nicole S., Susan Moore Johnson, and Stefanie K. Reinhorn. “A Quest for “The Very Best”: Teacher Recruitment in Six Successful, High-Poverty, Urban Schools.” (2015).