The North Carolina Public School Forum released its Top Education Issues for 2023 on Jan. 31. Ensuring fair and competitive compensation for educators is at the top of the list.
According to the Public School Forum’s report, teachers in North Carolina have one of the largest pay penalties in the nation, earning around 24.5 percent less than similarly-educated peers.
The Public School Forum is calling for an increase in base pay for North Carolina teachers equal to this deficit in order to reach the national average and to have teacher pay come closer to the state’s approximate living wage.
N.C. Sen. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange, Person) said a 24.5 percent increase is much higher than he can remember any other organization asking for in recent years.
“There are many things you need to do to educate children well, but the very first one is you have to put a qualified teacher in front of them,” Meyer said. “I think that the Public School Forum, when they call for a raise of this level, are changing the terms of debate in a way that I think is exciting.”
Lauren Fox, senior director for policy and research at the Public School Forum, said such an increase would only bring North Carolina teacher salaries to approximately the national average. She said it shouldn’t be talked about as an “extreme” measure.
“What's extreme is how little we're paying teachers right now,” Fox said.
Fox said she believes the small amount of money teachers are paying shouldn't be normalized — the fact that they have to work two and three jobs is "extreme."
Eugenia Floyd works as an equity specialist for instructional equity in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and as an advisor to the Public School Forum.