NC teachers group critical of proposed license, pay overhaul

Published 4:08 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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Members of North Carolina’s leading teacher advocacy group criticized on Tuesday a proposed overhaul of public school instructor pay and licensing, saying that implementing such changes would make existing classroom staffing challenges even worse.

The state Department of Public Instruction released to the State Board of Education in April a “sample” licensure model that stemmed from recommendations made by subcommittees of a state educator preparation and standards commission.

Any final proposal would need formal approval from the state board and ultimately from the legislature to fund it. But switching from the current licensure and salary model, which largely rewards teachers financially based on years of classroom experience, to one based on performance has the support of Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and board chairman Eric Davis. They said last week the current model is not attracting enough people to teaching and to stay in the field.

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At a news conference, North Carolina Association of Educators members said one solution is to raise all teacher pay through the existing salary schedule framework that currently omits experience-based increases for some of the most veteran teachers for a decade. Existing programs to encourage young people to enter the field also should be expanded and new ones created, NCAE Vice President Bryan Proffitt said.

“Our state already has the policies and pathways that we need to support recruitment and retention, but they lack the execution with fidelity and the necessary funding commitment from the leadership of the General Assembly,” Proffitt said outside the state education building.

The DPI proposal would create several licensure levels, each with larger base salaries that ultimately would exceed the maximum salary on the current pay schedule, which is $54,000 for 25 years of experience. The sample model presented earlier this year envisioned advanced-level teachers, with leadership roles in their schools earning $73,000.

Moving to advanced licensing levels would depend in part on teachers showing instruction competence and improvement in student test scores. Supporters say the model would reward instructors who create better student outcomes. But Proffitt and others said such performance measures are subjective and flawed and will actually discourage people from making public education a lifetime profession.

“We deserve to be paid for our experience, without jumping through hoops or worrying if this year’s paycheck will be different than next year’s,” said Kiana Espinoza, a Wake County middle school teacher and news conference speaker.