Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pay comparisons should work for teachers, too

Today's News & Observer includes an article about complaints by University of North Carolina faculty over the double-digit pay raises university chancellors received while the faculty received no pay raises. The professors' argument was that they were the ones who were on the front lines, creating the quality of instruction and research that bolstered the system's national reputation.

The Board of Governors cited market comparisons to justify the chancellors' raises. Compared to other state universities' chancellors or presidents, the UNC chancellors were below market rate, the BOG reasoned.

If the BOG compares chancellors' salaries to peers in other states, why can't the BOG compare faculty salaries to other universities'? BOG members seem more interested in settling political scores and deciding when, how and how often faculty will teach.

Better yet, why can't the General Assembly use this comparison tool to determine whether public school teachers should get a pay raise? North Carolina teacher salaries have plummeted from a roughly median of national teacher salaries to dead last in state comparisons. The Board of Governors worried that other universities would steal away UNC's talented leaders by offering higher salaries. Have legislators noticed that teachers are fleeing North Carolina for better-paying jobs in other states? Where do they think that leaves North Carolina?

Instead, legislators are focused on ways to increase the number of charter schools and shift state education appropriations to private schools.

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