“North Carolina’s highest performing teachers should be the highest paid teachers in the nation,” Forest said. He believes the fund can make increased teacher pay a reality in the near future.
People can now apply for the license plates, which are $20.91 for a standard plate and $51.80 for a specialty plate. The plates will not be produced until 500 people apply.
Although the license plate and the endowment is a positive sign of progress in increasing teacher pay in North Carolina, many people believe the plate is not enough and disagree with private funding of teacher pay increases.
Rob Schofield, an analyst at N.C. Policy Watch, wrote a post criticizing the idea on Wednesday.
“Not only will it amount to a drop in the bucket, it undermines the very idea of how public schools ought to be funded and assessed — i.e. by the taxpayers and the professionals they employ," Schofield wrote.
He also pointed out that although the lieutenant governor was pushing to support public school teachers, Forest has been a major advocate of private school vouchers, and his own children are homeschooled.
A recent editorial in the (Raleigh) News & Observer said that using revenue from the license plates and individual and corporate donations was a start — but more effort on the state's part is needed.
“That’s fine (to use donations), but it’s no substitute for the state’s meeting its obligation to pay teachers adequately," the editorial states.
The editorial board also warned that teachers will continue to leave the state if salaries are not increased soon.
It ends on this chilling sentence: “Then the state’s existing license plates also will carry a message about North Carolina’s support for teachers — first in flight.”