Republican Senator Michael Lee is running for a second term representing North Carolina’s Senate District 9. Though the legislature approved a 4% increase in teacher pay this past session, Lee says the state still has a long way to go.
Three years ago, North Carolina was ranked 47th in the nation for teacher pay. Now the state has risen to 41st, according to the National Education Association. The state legislature projects that average teacher pay will rise to fifty thousand dollars, but that number won’t be confirmed until at least December. And it relies on low teacher turnover, which might not happen, according to fact-checking by WRAL.
If that average salary checks out, that’s still eight thousand less than the national average. Here’s Senator Michael Lee:
"Make no mistake, we are nowhere near where we need to be, but the average is up more than 20% since 2013-2014. And I know everyone is not seeing that because there are different places in the pay scale where the increases have occurred. There’s been lots of increases at the beginning of the pay scale for several reasons. One, to encourage new teachers to come to the profession. Another one is when they froze teacher pay, they didn’t freeze longevity pay for the more senior teachers, so the freeze was more impactful in the first ten years of the scale. There are lots of different reasons and nuances behind this."
Senator Lee says the state is playing catch up, but in the next four years, North Carolina aims to increase average teacher pay to fifty-five thousand dollars.