Teacher: It’s hard to see the positives in the new NC budget
As a teacher, I want to be optimistic and try to bring out the best in each child. I am trying to do the same with the new state budget. Even if the NC budget is more than four months late, I would like to focus on the positive points.
This budget invests in human capital in high needs areas through the âlow wealth countyâ supplement. It raises the wages of all bus drivers, guards and cafeteria workers across the state with a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour over two years. And that adds Fayetteville State University to the NC Promise program. But after this short list, it gets harder to see the positives, even if I squint.
Yes, one-off bonuses are useful in the short term, but they’re not real increases and they don’t count towards my retirement. When you factor in the removal of longevity pay, public funding for veteran teacher pay has declined over the past decade, making it even harder to consider retirement.
This budget could have compensated the educators for the diplomas they obtained, but once again, the General Assembly of the NC failed to restore the remuneration of the masters for the instructors.
The salary increases that were included in the budget – an increase of 1.3% per year for classroom teachers – do not equal the 5% that was widely publicized. The teachers are smart enough to understand that the sleight of hand includes the increment already provided for in our salary scales.
Meanwhile, veteran teachers who don’t get a step increase are left behind with a smaller pay raise than anyone else.
Do state lawmakers realize that teachers and staff in public schools are leaving in droves? Good people have left our schools over the past decade because they feel underpaid and underestimated.
The pandemic, which has just increased the stress in our schools, has accelerated the exodus. We have a serious public school vacancy crisis across the state. And now our schools are full of overworked and frustrated employees.
Perhaps the most shortsighted action of all with this state budget: prioritizing more and more tax cuts, including the elimination of corporate taxes, when we have so many other priorities – including the full funding of public education. We have observed for years that the General Assembly ignores its constitutional responsibility to provide a quality education for every child in North Carolina. The courts again ordered them to comply with the Leandro court ruling and the state had enough money, but they preferred the tax cuts to our children.
Of course, the students are what it is. This is what keeps most of the school workers coming back when we could be making more money in other jobs. We love our students and desperately want them to succeed. I wish all of our lawmakers felt the same.
If our state leaders have any other questions or concerns regarding the real state of public education in North Carolina, they can always reach out and try to walk a mile for that or any other educator. .
Brian Link is a civic literacy teacher at East Chapel Hill High School.