From the chair – Last week we posted a question – “Do some teachers lie?” We made the case for the fact that some do and the media (in this case WLOS gave three teachers an opportunity to press their point without any conservative opportunity to counter the propaganda) helps them.

Well, as we all know the teacher’s union is an organized body and Sunday we received proof. We avoid doing business on Sunday, but comments can come into our web site. In this instance we received a swarm of 12 back-to-back comments that were clearly solicited.

We want to share those comments with you because we believe they (1) reveal the organized nature of the teacher lobby (2) mark the narcissism of that organization and (3) demonstrate an indifference to progress, facts and persistent constructive efforts by Republican leadership to support education in North Carolina. We’re not even going to talk about the fact that children are almost totally absent from their raised concerns. Whoops – we just did, didn’t we. Sorry?

But first, Here’s a link to our first post-

Do some teachers lie?

Now, we’d like to share their comments – followed by our response…

This is comical. Did you know that in order for some “raises” other areas must experience cuts? Did you consider that the “average” salary is actually based on a very slim margin of teachers at one particular pay grade? Perhaps you should also know that our “raises” are based on years of experience, meaning that it isn’t exactly the same for every teacher, and that the 7% increase (for example) may be an average or only apply to one step on the pay scale? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be a teacher and I thankful for the progress we and our supportive governmental officials have made. However, you cannot call us liars for seeking all of the help we can get. Advocating for ourselves is how we have made such important strides in the field. So just as we continue to advocate for YOUR kids EVERY DAY, we will continue to advocate for what we need to make YOUR KIDS as successful as possible. Or maybe I’m just lying….  (Hi Lee. What do you call it when people intentionally manipulate, distort or ignore facts?)

1)Please see facts from NCGA Fiscal Research Department utilized by teachers and their professional organizations.
2)Using the mean (average) is a poor statistical measure for comparisons – middle school students can explain why.
3)Why attack teachers? Really, think about that. The highest salary they can ever make in the state is $63,000 after 25 years; yes, 25 years and that’s if they have a Masters degree and if they are Nationally Board Certified. Oops, forgot; the state no longer honors Master degrees since a 2013 GOP decision so that throws a kink in things. Change that salary to $58,000 with NBCT and 25 years. 4)If lies are your forte, why not attack the documented, fact checked lies coming from the White House? 5)Teachers are on the frontline of the most important job next to parenting. Bet you could name one that made a difference in your life. They should be supported.
(Hi Joanne- Republicans do respect and value teachers. We also recognize that your compensation comes from pockets of taxpayers – most of whom do not enjoy anything close to the benefits and salaries of teachers – or politicians. We freely acknowledge attempting to incentivize teachers to better classroom performance versus rewarding milestones (like time in a position) that may or may not improve our children’s education. It is our belief that education priorities and dollars should be focused on our children as the primary beneficiary.)

The Republican party has no commitment to public schools, it gave away 750 million in tax revenue to decrease the corporate tax rate which is the lowest in the United States already. Why would you give away your funding source Kansas made that mistake, they have severe budget short falls as a result of their irresponsibility. (Hi Peri. Republican tax decreases have resulted in an unprecedented influx of new jobs, industry, commerce and more income for everyone. Republicans believe in leaving the money people earn in their own pockets versus the position of our opposition that it is government’s business to take money from citizens to distribute to special interests. Under our leadership everyone is benefiting – including teachers who had received no better – and in some cases much worse treatment – under Democratic leadership. We are not in Kansas – NC is thriving!)

Here are your lies… (Hi Mark. OK?)

As someone who personally knows Angie Cathcart, I am appalled that you would call her a liar. Angie is a hardworking and honest woman, who goes above and beyond her job duties daily for the benefit of the school she works for and those in it. (Hi Savannah. We are sure you are correct – but she did play with the facts – dramatically so.) As far as this goes: “WLOS helped some dishonest teachers echo their deceptions by giving three of their voices coverage with no countering input from the conservative side of the equation.” WLOS covered an event that was happening in the area that their station covers, and reported on that particular event – their reporting included quotes from people at the event. As someone who attended the event, I can attest to the fact that I did not speak nor hear from anyone with a countering POV. So, it would make sense that WLOS took quotes from people who were at the event, when writing an article… about a particular event. This is pretty standard as far as journalism goes, and I am sure if you have your own event to encourage voting they will report on that as well. I’m sure it’d even include quotes from people who attend, and I assume that they’d all have a similar POV to you! (Yes it is local media’s normal standard to offer the unfiltered liberal view – three times – without conservative input – but it’s a little surprising that an educated person doesn’t see the problem with that.) Also, you can claim all day long that republicans have been good for North Carolina’s education system, and it’s teachers. However, I moved here two years ago from Georgia – and I can tell you personally that living in NC is not easy for an educator. If you compare counties within a 2-3 hour driving distance around Buncombe, there are many in other states where a teacher could go and make a substantial amount more money. These are areas with similar costs of living. Simply teaching in Greenville, SC would give me a more than 5,000 dollar per year raise. This includes my school district’s 9.5% supplement on top of my 39,000 dollar per year salary. Mind you, I have a BA, a MA, an EdS degree, with excellent observations and awards in my program – and I make 42,705 dollars per year before tax. Those 6.2% raises you speak of? That is not the amount all teachers got – as I know I certainly did not get this kind of raise. Statistics and percentages can lie too when you aren’t using them honestly, and I don’t believe you are. (As you note, you have no history in NC and do not know how it was under Democratic leadership or how much things have improved under Republicans. Comparing Greenville to rural NC is comparing apples to oranges. Had you moved to Asheville, your raise would have been even larger than the one your noted in Greenville.) Here are some other statistics and percentages which show Angie, and other NC teachers, aren’t the greedy liars you claim we are: According to research from the Economic Policy Institute, North Carolina teacher wages are just 65% of other college-educated North Carolinians. Only teachers in Arizona and Colorado have less competitive teacher salaries than North Carolina teachers. (Sorry, someone has cherry picked the facts for you and is hammering on the negatives to craft a false political narrative. That’s like an OCD tourist coming to Asheville to see the leaves and accurately, but not very productively, noting they are all dead material matter. There’s a bigger reality missed in that narrow assessment.) In an article published in April of 2018 by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, they state that this year, NEA estimates North Carolina’s average teacher salary is $50,861, moving it up two spots to 37th in the nation. North Carolina’s average teacher salary has increased five percent since 2009, but accounting for inflation, it has decreased nine percent. North Carolina also fell short of the average per-pupil spending in 2017, coming in at $9,329 as compared to the national average of $11,642. NEA estimates North Carolina’s per-pupil spending this year will be $9,528, a 2.1 percent increase from last year that puts North Carolina at 39th in the country. (Whoops – you are playing with the facts again – and again comparing apples to oranges. On the latter, how many professions have not lost ground over the past decade or so – it’s called stagflation. If you want to focus on fairness, please note that teacher salary increases have been almost double what other state employees and the general working population have received over the period of time you mention.) Before you go and call myself and my hardworking colleagues liars (and thieves), please get your facts correct. We are simply fighting for ourselves and our own families whom we should be able to support with our salaries. We are fighting for our students, who deserve the right to have schools that are safe and can provide them  with a first rate public education, well trained and qualified teachers, and other services and programs which are critical to their development. Also – who does calling teachers liars help? It really only helps your political agenda, because it certainly isn’t helping the children whom we dedicate our lives to teaching. (Sorry – if one uses behavior as the marker, objectively some of you are liars and thieves, but we didn’t call anyone a liar in our first post – we just raised the question. And we have just got to say it, to play the “for the children” card isn’t very credible when everything in your post is about “for the teachers.”)  Oh – and to comment on your cartoon. There are no teachers unions in NC. We aren’t allowed collective bargaining rights which would be required in order to form a union. Might want to find a different image, or someone may… I don’t know… call you a liar? (Are you a leader in your teacher’s union? Sounds like it, because you are playing a technicality card to hide your true nature. Webster’s defines a labor union as an “organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions” You guys are a union and the fact you work so hard to conceal it marks your most sincere agenda.)

This is extremely dishonest and misleading. If I had received the pay raise you listed above in 2014, I would have stayed in NC. It was only teachers within the first 7 or so years that received that increase. Veteran teachers received what equaled about $50 a month in take-home pay. Veteran teachers over 10 years also lost their longevity bonus to help fund this increase for younger teachers. This was after we had no step pay increase for about 6 years before that. It could be even longer because I lost track after several years. You can manipulate numbers easily to mislead the public by including administrative salaries and other teacher bonuses, but I taught in NC from 1996-2014, and I know that my pay was stagnate for at least 7 years and I lost money in my salary as an 18 year teacher. That is when I left and went to SC where steps have not been suspended even during the recession. NC proved they did not value experience when all of this started and it was under a Republican legislature. This doesn’t even touch on the tenure efforts that were finally stopped by the courts or how they stopped giving pay increases for obtaining a masters. I can only hope people of the public will do what was mentioned above and look at the annual salary of an experienced teacher over the last 25 years. Salaries were not increased for all teachers the way you stated above. I left 4 years ago with 18 years experience making $48,000 before taxes, SS, retirement, etc were taken out. That’s the real story. That an experienced quality teacher with 4 years (or even 6 now) of higher education and 18 years of experience could make less than $50,000 a year. (Hi Jane. Yes – the Republican leadership took over in 2011 and it took them a couple of years to reverse the Democrat led policies that had left our state economy in a mess. They had to do one thing at a time (starting with attracting and retaining new teachers) and have worked hard to create a more balanced equation for all teachers since then. We find it fascinating that so many teachers were passive during the salary stagnancy years under Democrats and are now so relentlessly critical with real, solid and meaningful Republican generated progress. We see that as shameful, politically motivated and dishonest.)

I would like to point out that the “average” teacher pay is the median, and nowhere near the mean or mode. It took me 15 years, a Masters degree, and National Board Certification to get that high. That is only average in that it is between 0 years’ and 30 years’ experience with both a Masters (which no longer affords a raise to those seeking it after 2013) AND NBCT status. (Hi Laura. Please pick whatever statistic serves your agenda – we appreciate your patience with our contention that Republicans have worked hard to address legitimate teacher pay concerns in a fashion appropriate to our economy, state wage norms, market realities, peer state’s teacher pay norms, and an appropriate fairness equation. We’ve been in a leadership position in Raleigh for 7 years. There is a persisting illusion that things were better when Raleigh was under Democratic control. It wasn’t. We’re proud of the progress made on education in NC – and there’s more to come.)

I am a veteran teacher in my 28th year. I have not gotten anything near a 19% raise over the last 5 years…UNLESS you count the LIES told to the public when we were stripped of our longevity pay & it was repackaged as a “raise.” And if you do count that, I guess if I come to your home & steal something you already had, give it back to you, and brag to all your neighbors about my generous gift to you, you would thank me for it? That’s exactly what happened & if you don’t believe it, you need to dig a little deeper than the propaganda put out by the NCGA. So, don’t you DARE call me or any other teacher a liar unless you’re going to call the folks in Raleigh the same. (Hi Crystal. Please see our response to Jane above. We haven’t called any teachers liars – we’re just raising the question and you guys are providing the affirmation. Thank you.)

Interesting that the “average teacher salary” in your statement is higher than the highest teacher salary in the state. Unless, of course, you factor in those who make a little bit more due to graduate degrees, but that extra pay was eliminated several years ago. Those of us who completed graduate degrees after 2013 have not gotten higher salaries commensurate with those degrees, therefore the number you are quoting cannot possibly be correct. This information can be very easily verified by looking at the state salary schedule on DPI’s website. Perhaps you should find an actual teacher who will allow you to view their paycheck so that you can see an example of a real salary – not just what the politicians want you to believe the salary is. Regardless, we are also interested in FUNDING for our schools. Textbook funding, funding for technology, funding for school safety specialists such as nurses, counselors, and support personnel, funding to repair and replace crumbling facilities, and funding to pay for state and federal mandates. Look up per-pupil expenditures and compare them to the amount spent on inmates, for example. I am a teacher, have been a teacher since 2001. My salary is nowhere near the amount I was promised on the schedule back then, much less allowing for inflation. I buy most of my own materials, use Donors Choose to provide the rest. We are struggling. Please help support public education instead of making false claims that can be easily disproved. (Hi Karen. We agree to disagree on salary statistics – who’s accurate and who’s not. But it was refreshing to have one of you good folks actually speak to the interests of the students. But then you got back on that ‘what’s in it for us’ script and comparing apples (students) to oranges (prisoners. Please take a look at the wage picture for the average working person and you will find that wage stagnancy has been a national phenomena since you became a teacher.)

Hi! If you go look at NCDPI’s website you can view the state mandated salary for teachers. A teacher does not make $50,000 until they reach 15 years of service. And that remains the pay currently until they hit 25 years where it goes up to $52,000. Granted some counties do offer higher pay than that but most do not. (Hi Jessica. Yes, the teaching profession in almost every state in the country is not a profession one seeks purely for financial compensation. Please nonetheless look at the information at the bottom for how hard NC is successfully working to move up the compensation charts for our teachers.)

How about why the GOP got rid of longevity pay for teachers but no other state employees. Oh yea, because they used that to say they gave us a raise which was a falsehood. I’m more of a Republican than a Democrat but honesty by the GOP is not a high priority. (Hi Josh. Longevity pay has not been associated with educational performance improvement. We are Republicans and our platform prioritizes merit over habit.

Fake news? This is a direct defense to the Apple Card. Truth is, the democratic candidates can do more for our students right now. Also the cartoon at the end is appalling. Suggesting teachers just want things for themselves is heinous. Especially coming from someone who posted a big picture of themselves at the start of the article. (Hi Michael, That picture is of a UNC-A educator who has been charged with stealing conservative signs. You are correct that the Democratic Party has a long-standing history of seducing voters with the promise of something for nothing. Republicans work to avoid that deception and support a more sustainable and fair governance equation that takes the approach we are all in this together vs. divide us into competing special interest groups.

Are you not brave enough to publish all replies? Just asking? (Hi Joanne. Just as soon as I can find time to directly respond to your all’s email swarm, it will be our pleasure.)

Now, it’s our turn to speak to some truths. May we suggest a few links?

  1. NC senator claims teacher pay increased under Republican leadership – Politifact – Mostly True
  2. The Truth About NC’s Rising Teacher Salaries
  3. And another raise is in the hopper for next year…
  4. Teacher Pay Rankings, Facts, and Figures
  5. How teacher salaries really compare

Let’s travel back to the original question – Do some teachers lie?  When it comes to power politics, yes, they apparently do. We’re done now – time for supper…

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