The problem with teacher salaries

Mr. Travagline working through stacks of paper and computer work. Teachers have a massive amount of responsibilities to deal with--some say too many for their current pay to compensate. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Polansky)Mr. Travagline working through stacks of paper and computer work. Teachers have a massive amount of responsibilities to deal with--some say too many for their current pay to compensate. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Polansky)

How can the state that has a rank of 12 out of 50 for upper education, some of the most prestigious universities in the world, and some of the most rapidly expanding family-based communities in the country have such low ratings in the field of education? The answer is both simple and tangible: money.

North Carolina is ranked 35th in average teacher salaries, paying its teachers an average of $49,837. On top of this inadequate sum, the maximum growth margin for a teacher over the course of 25 years is a measly $17,900. This means that despite a lengthy career, most teachers have very little room for a pay increase — bar becoming an administrator of some kind.

These unacceptable numbers give people very little incentive to become teachers and even less incentive to stay teaching their entire lives. The inevitable result is that the majority of high quality teachers in our schools today are being drastically underpaid. What’s worse, the truly effective teachers–the ones who believe in teaching and want to teach for a living–are subject to wages below their skill level and ridicule much higher than they deserve.

The public education system of North Carolina is suffering as a direct result. North Carolina is ranked 34th in terms of K-12 public education out of a potential 50. This is in large part due to how little is spent on each students individually as well. On average, North Carolina only spends $6,115 per pupil– roughly $4,000 below the national average– leaving our state ranked at a pitiful 43rd in regards to per pupil spending.

Our state is brimming with prestigious universities– NC State, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, etc.– that we take great pride in as North Carolinians. As mentioned before, North Carolina is ranked number 12 in the entire nation for higher education. So, how can it be possible that we are ranked 45th in terms of college readiness?

The answer remains the same: North Carolina’s teachers are being drastically underpaid for their high quality work and extra effort in teaching students. Even with all the extra hours unpaid after school, about 25% of NC teachers have second jobs to make ends meet.

Currently, the legislators of North Carolina are proving that they simply do not care for public education– and their constituents are paying for it. The betterment of education is in everyone’s best interest. There is no future for this state or this country if public education is to be overlooked so severely that even our willing educators will not receive funding for their service. Teachers are creating the future, they deserve the utmost priority.

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