Education is not a political game

Published 8:11 pm Friday, May 12, 2017

Earlier this week, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and the Senate introduced their proposed budgets for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

As to be expected, teacher salaries were a hot topic of conversation.

The Senate’s proposal outlines a pay schedule similar to last year’s. Pay raises vary from 0.3 percent to 4.8 percent. Teachers in their 14th year (or step 15) would receive the highest raise of more than $2,000. First-year teachers would receive no raise, and the salary for veteran teachers working more than 25 years would be capped at $51,000.

Cooper’s proposal offers a better picture, with every teacher across the board receiving some sort of raise. Pay raises vary from 3.1 percent to 6.1 percent. Teachers in their 19th year (step 20) would receive the highest raise of $2,750, and oddly enough, teachers in their 20th year would receive the least raise of $1,500. The governor’s budget does not include a cap.

At first glance, the governor’s budget proposal seems to be better by leaps and bounds, as far as teacher salaries go. However, in a state that continually places education near the bottom of the list, it also leads to some skepticism.

Last year, legislators struggled to find — or struggled for the willingness to find — raises for educators similar to the Senate’s proposal. How would they come up with the money for across-the-board raises for all teachers?

There is no doubt that educators deserve every last penny in the governor’s proposed pay scale. The question is whether legislators could even come up with the amounts listed in the Senate proposal.

Also, by displaying such a pay schedule to the public, Cooper is trying to improve his own image, while also funneling a pipe dream to those who need more money.

That simply isn’t fair, and it could be construed as disrespectful. Call it cynicism, but educators deserve better from all parties involved.