But Malaika Hankins, an aspiring teacher and co-chapter leader of Students for Education Reform at UNC, said she cannot see herself teaching in North Carolina until what she sees as fundamental problems with teacher pay are fixed.
“This state is like a home to me,” she said. “But I could not teach in a place where the salaries are so low.”
North Carolina has been ranked 46th in the nation in teacher salaries.
McCrory said the increase will push North Carolina starting teacher salaries above those of Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Christopher Hill, director of the Education & Law Project at the North Carolina Justice Center, said he had expected McCrory to make teacher salaries more competitive.
“We want to see North Carolina at least have the national average,” he said.
The 2012-13 national average starting teacher pay, according to the National Education Association, was just more than $36,000. With the new pay raise, the salaries of North Carolina teachers who have been teaching for less than 10 years will increase from $30,800 to $35,000 in two years.
“We were very disappointed that experienced teachers were devalued in the salary plan,” said Mark Jewell, vice president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
He said the increase in pay was a good first step, but it did nothing for the more than 50,000 other educators in the state.
George Ramsay, a UNC public policy major and member of the UNC chapter of Students for Education Reform, said a more holistic approach to teacher compensation is necessary.
“And it’s about more than just a paycheck, it’s about how we want teachers to progress in the profession,” he said.
Still, June Atkinson, state superintendent for public instruction, said the legislature and McCrory are listening to the voices of educators across the state.
“Our teachers have been very professional in addressing the need to increase salaries so that they can continue to do what they love,” she said. “I’m optimistic that the leadership in the General Assembly and the governor will move forward in addressing the pay scale for all of our teachers.”