- Expansion of early childhood education by about $3.6 million.
- Increase textbook funding by $23 million.
- Increase beginning teacher pay from $30,800 to $35,000 over the next two years.
- Provide an average 2% pay raise for experienced teachers.
- Institute a new long-term pay plan for teachers that combines experience, education, merit, mentoring, and market needs. In addition he seeks to offer higher pay to teachers choosing to work in hard-to-staff schools.
What will be perhaps harder to implement is the idea of merit pay, especially if based on test scores. The obvious problems being that not all teachers’ classes are subject to tests, and the fact that current use of value-added and growth scores are being increasingly challenged in the courts. I would also add that the reliability and validity of value-added measures and their use in a high-stakes manner are also disputed as well. Add these concerns with the fact that studies on merit pay tied to student achievement mostly show that such pay schemes do not work any way, and it would seem this part of the pay plan is a waste of time and money.
McCrory’s idea to offer higher pay to teachers choosing to teach in hard-to-staff schools is also not surprising. This has been tried as well and with mixed results. McCroy’s idea of letting market conditions determine teacher pay may seem sound to those outside education, but one can only imagine what that measure will do to morale and collaboration in a school.
Governor McCrory also stated that he was committed to moving the decisions regarding this differentiated pay scheme to the local level which is interesting, but it remains to be seen how that will actually be implemented. The question will be how much freedom local districts will really have and how much will be dictated from above. Also, how willing are districts to take on this task? Most struggled with simply trying to identify the top 25% under a bill passed during last year’s legislative session. This was due in part to trying to find a way to fairly and effectively identify deserving teachers. Is the legislature willing to budget enough money for everyone who qualifies, even if that amount is more? Or would they simply give districts a set amount of money and tell them to distribute it as a bonus? Performance pay schemes have been implemented before in North Carolina but were abandoned when the state could no longer afford them. Under the old North Carolina ABC for Accountability program, teachers could receive $1,500 or $750 based on their school’s test performance. This pay stopped when the budget collapsed and there was no political will to find the money to continue funding it. Will politicians in Raleigh be committed to the pay scheme or will they once again abandon it when “times get tough?”
As an educator, I applaud Governor McCrory for listening to educators which it is clear that he has done in some of his proposals. All teachers do deserve pay increases. The past few years have not been kind to North Carolina teachers and teachers nationwide. The real test Governor McCrory faces is whether he can get this plan, or some variation of it, through a legislature that has demonstrated an incredible unwillingness to budge from many of its far right stances.