A step in the right direction

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the latest round of the General Assembly’s budgeting, veteran teachers fared better than in recent years, receiving the largest boost in salary.

Altogether, teachers will receive an average 3.3-percent raise in the 2017-18 school year — some receiving $250 and others $3,050 a year. Teachers with 17-19 and 23-24 years of experience received the largest raises.

This pay scale contrasts with last year’s scale, which benefitted teachers with less experience over veteran educators. The plan was meant to help attract people to the profession in North Carolina, and supporters argued that it would help keep teachers in the state, as well.

Those reasons were laudable, but it ended up making veteran teachers feel unappreciated and wronged in a sense — as if their 15, 20 or 25 years meant nothing to legislators.

All teachers are important, no matter the length of tenure; there’s no doubt about that. However, there is something to be said for putting decades of life into a profession. It shows commitment, and that commitment should be rewarded.

The General Assembly made the right decision in rewarding those longtime educators. They placed more of a priority on teacher pay this year, and that culminated in some sort of raise for all teachers. It was a step in the right direction.

Of course, one budget cycle does not undo a history of little to no raises and slashing education funding. However, it is positive to see education placed as a top priority, and teachers certainly deserve a salary boost.

This prioritization should be expected out of legislators every year. Providing raises and/or needed funding for one or two years is simply a political move. Making such a commitment year after year is what needs to happen. Educators deserve it, students deserve it, and the state of North Carolina as a whole deserves it.