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Teacher groups and NC educators exchange strong words about licensing and salaries. WFAE90.7

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A week after North Carolina education officials called for dramatic changes in teacher salaries and licenses, the North Carolina Educators Association held a press conference Tuesday to condemn their efforts.

NCAE Vice President Brian Profitt has called on the state to revive a strategy he says has worked in the past.

A board of educators appointed by the General Assembly has been working for months on a plan to restructure teacher salaries and licensing in North Carolina. Submitted to State Board of Education in April proposed a seven-step system that would allow students to enter as an apprentice before completing a four-year degree. Fully licensed teachers can be promoted based on performance and take on additional duties at pay levels well above current pay levels.

“Our state is in the midst of an education crisis that is having a significant negative impact on today’s students and, if not corrected, will damage our state for generations to come. ”

— School Board Chair Eric Davis

At a state school board meeting last week, Chairman Eric Davis and Superintendent Catherine Truitt spent about 30 minutes calling for a new system. (Listen to what they say. herefrom around 3:20).

“Our state is in the midst of an education crisis that is having a significant negative impact on today’s students and, if not corrected, will damage our state for generations to come.

Davis and Truitt say that the current system keeps good teachers out of the profession and fails to reward the educators who make the most difference to their students.

Mr Truitt said:

On Tuesday, members of the NCAE gathered outside the Department of Public Education headquarters to present the counterpoint. (see press conference here.)

Proffitt said the system that existed in the early 2000s was good, but dismantled and underfunded. He said the state should raise wages across the board, restore obsolete teacher-assistant jobs, and ensure healthy annual raises based on experience and qualifications.

“None of these solutions are radical, new, or difficult to understand,” he said. “They all work here.”

Kiana Espinoza, a middle school teacher in Wake County, said a pay scale that relies on test scores and student surveys can hurt teachers working with English learners, as she does. She also said the solution was simple.

“I just need a raise,” she said. “And not a hike below inflation as suggested. We need real raises. For everyone.”

The draft includes an advanced license level, a high effectiveness rating, and is open to teachers who agree to guide the development of their peers. Top salaries start at $73,000 per year. Current salary levels are just over $64,000 per year for a teacher with a master’s degree and National Board Certification.

An NCAE speaker questioned the rationale for effectiveness ratings and the General Assembly’s willingness to pay higher salaries. They also said there are stretches with no annual pay increases.

“Experience-based salaries keep quality educators in school,” says Proffitt. “Let an educator focus on her one job, and they’ll stay in the profession they love.”

Officials stress that the licensing proposal is still a work in progress and will incorporate feedback from educators.

A panel working on licensing and payment plans will meet this week and report to state commissions this fall. Any changes require approval from the School Board and General Assembly.

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