September 3, 2013
I am outraged and saddened by State Sen. Thom Goolsby’s columne, “Let’s dispel all the education lies about Raleigh,” which appeared in the Aug. 30 edition of the Bladen Journal.
This is a misleading attempt by Sen. Goolsby to convince readers that teachers in N.C. have it made. In the article, he blames the lack of a pay raise for teachers on two things: First the Democrats. I’m a 22-year school counselor and conservative Republican, but can‘t blame the Democrats for this one. I prefer the truth; the reality is that it was predominantly Republicans who messed up this time. Next he blames the local school districts by stating that, while the Legislature sets the base pay for teachers, local school districts can decide to pay more. True, but the main salary is determined by the Legislature. Local supplements range from nothing to 17 percent, so the majority of a teacher’s pay is from the state.
In Bladen County, we receive 4 percent. Poor counties cannot afford a larger supplement because their tax base is much smaller. Sen. Goolsby claims that average salary for a N.C. teacher is $45,947. You can find different figures depending on where you look, but this “average” teacher would have to be a teacher with 27 years experience or a teacher with a master’s degree with 20 years experience (see the pay scale on North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s website).
We really shouldn’t consider extra pay for master’s degrees, since that program has been cut. In the future, we’ll have less highly qualified teachers thanks to the Legislature. You really can’t expect a teacher to spend money on tuition for a master’s degree when it will not increase their pay. Many teachers are still paying on student loans from their bachelor’s degrees. A beginning teacher earns $30,800; a 10-year teacher earns $35,800; a 15-year teacher earns $39,650; a 20-year teacher earns $42,260; a 25-year teacher earns $45,140; and a 30-year teacher earns $48,360.
The most disturbing part of Sen. Goosby’s article is his misleading math. He takes his “average” figure of $45,947 and adds in benefits such as health insurance, social security, and pension and claims that the “real” pay for a teacher is closer to $60,000. These benefits aren’t free. We have deductions from our check for all of these benefits. Although they’re valuable benefits, they don’t increase our paychecks, they decrease them. We should subtract out the cost of these benefits and our taxes to get our net pay or “real pay,” rather than add them in. These are the same benefits that full-time employees have at large corporations across America.
Pension may be called a matching 401K at some companies, but it ‘s the same thing (the employee puts in some, the employer puts in some and it’s to be used for retirement). Every LEGAL worker in the U.S. pays into Social Security and may one day draw money from it, so please don’t claim that teachers have it made. We enjoy the same benefits as other workers, except with a lower salary.
Maybe we should turn the tables and do an article about how senators have it made, beginning with their base salaries of $174,000. Now let’s add in their retirement, time off, health insurance, living expenses …