RALEIGH — According to the N.C. Fiscal Research Division, the average North Carolina public teacher will earn $53,600 next year, up an average of $8,600, or 19 percent, since 2014. Its report says more than half of the state’s educators have gotten a raise of at least $10,000 over that time. State lawmakers are trying to get that word out through a new website, www.ncteacherraise.com, as reportedly more than 15,000 teachers prepare to descend on the legislative building on Wednesday for the first day of the short session.
“Despite these facts we know there is a lot of politically motivated rhetoric and misinformation out there, so that’s why we want people to check the numbers for themselves … to understand the total increase to base teacher pay since 2014 under Republican leadership,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).
Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-King’s Mountain) announced the website and the numbers in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of the return of the full legislative body for the short session.
“Last year we were the No. 1 state in America for increasing teacher pay, this year we were No. 2,” said Moore. “You can’t go in and try to deal with a mess that we inherited in 2011 in just one swoop.”
The Rally for Respect, organized by the N.C. Association of Educators, the state teachers union, is expected to draw thousands of teachers demanding higher salaries and more spending on education. The plans have made national news and forced the closure of dozens of school districts across the state as educators take the school day off.
“We all listen to the teachers that talk with us, but I would say that the fact that a million kids are not going to be in school tomorrow because a political organization wants to have folks come here, to send a message or whatever, is probably going to be the front and center thing about this,” said Berger.
The NCAE has instructed the demonstrators to gather outside the NCAE building and march to the state capital and gather in the third-floor rotunda overlooking the N.C. Senate and N.C. House chambers.
“It’s no question that the NCAE is pretty closely aligned with the Democratic Party in N.C. Much of what we are hearing is politically motivated, it’s an effort on the part of Democrats to support Democrats,” said Berger
The lawmakers say they have left room in their schedule to visit with teachers from the districts they represent and said they look forward to telling them that a 6.2 percent raise is already in the budget for this year, but they also say that rolling back the scheduled tax cuts to free up more money is not on the table.
“We’ve heard people like Gov. (Roy) Cooper push for a return to the same failed approach that required the furloughing of teachers and the freezing of their salaries by Democrats when they were last in control,” said Berger. “It led them to … supplementing millions of dollars in state funding with one-time federal stimulus money, leaving a massive hole in our state budget that we’ve been working for years to backfill.”
The legislative building will be using new X-ray machines and metal detectors as the crowds file into the building.