NC ends tenure, master’s degree pay hike

North Carolina teachers won’t get a raise if they earn a master’s degree, under legislation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. The bill also eliminates tenure and freezes pay for the fifth time in sixth years.

North Carolina is believed to be the first state to eliminate the automatic pay bump for earning an advanced degree.

North Carolina teachers are pursuing jobs in South Carolina, says union leader Charles Smith. “A six-year teacher is still getting paid the same as a first-year teacher.”

Enrollment is projected to grow rapidly in North Carolina with an added 800,000 students by 2030, notes Matthew Ladner on Jay Greene’s blog. Legislators have expanded school choice options for low- and moderate-income students and special-needs children, but per-pupil funding may not enough to “spur new private school supply,” writes Ladner.

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  1. This will hopefully slow the acquisition of worthless ed degrees. A relative actually took TWO beanbag courses; only class requirement was to design a game with beanbags. Her “thesis” was no different from a 4th-5th-grade science fair project.

    I hope they will reward real degrees; like MS-HS teachers with non-ed, subject-area master’s degrees. I think it also might help if they were to reward ES teachers will math degrees, and have them teach only math.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! Someone who can get a Masters in math has learned to think in a certain way and is comfortable thinking that way. That way will work for a few kids but not for most of them. He or she will have to do a lot of “unlearning” in order to be a good elementary math teacher.

      On the other hand, someone who hates math and doesn’t understand it won’t be a good math teacher, either.

      • This is not meant to be snarky, but what would be your recommendation to improve ES math. Math specialty teachers? Of what background? Better curriculum choices, like Singapore or Saxon Math, would help, but many current teachers would need lots of help to be able to teach the material well. Something else? Far too many teachers fall into your last category.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          I don’t know enough to say much with certainty. Better curriculum certainly. In the longer term, I would hope that potential elementary school teachers can be required to demonstrate that they understand basic math. Perhaps that is too much. Perhaps a specialty math teacher will be necessary.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          One thing I do know with certainty. That specialty math teacher should not be chosen on the basis of, “She got good marks in Differential Equations and Multivariate Calculus.” She should be chosen on the basis of, “She can connect with kids on their level and get them to understand the basics of math.”

        • Singapore actually has an elementary math specialty. Of course, in return for higher expectations they pay their teachers wages that are in line with other professionals.

  2. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    Yes, the pay bump has encouraged many an elementary school teacher to reach deeply into the Cracker Jack box for something with the letter “M” in front of it.

    What’s so funny is how *seriously* many of these people take these nonsense “degrees”. I was acquainted with a teacher who never failed to mention that she had a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology. Her valorous pedigree was of no avail, however, when she couldn’t figure out that her classroom’s computer “wasn’t working” because it wasn’t plugged in.

    True story.

    • Educational Technology degrees don’t require you know how to make the computer work. The courses are to help educators understand K-12 standards and ways to enhance goals using technology. Part of the problem is that no one with a masters degree is actually doing the job they are supposed to be doing because some idiot thinks they are supposed to be doing something else.

  3. I wonder how long it’ll be before the public education system’s viewed as the same sort anachronism as a dial phone?

    • allen – We can agree they’re anachronisms. Just don’t diss the dial phone itself. Rock solid, dependable and in a pinch a fine bludgeoning instrument. The public ed system fails on at least two of those criteria.

  4. Well, for my graduate degree, I got a total of $500 per year. At that rate, it will take 24 years to payback the tuition. And that’s at a simple rate.

    But it did make me eligible for another field within education, and got me out of the classroom. So, I’m not complaining. For what I do, you need a graduate degree to get certified.

    Tenure? In Texas, we’re on year to year contracts. Which is interesting in that if the principal wants you gone, he’ll tell you in April. Unless the superintendent tells him that he should have 2-5 teachers on growth plans. But it has interesting results. A good friend of ours was trying to teach French in a Title I school. When told that her contract wasn’t being renewed, she said fine. I quit. When told she couldn’t do that, she said, “Well, my family is moving to Paris in May. I was going to finish the school year, but why bother? You’ve shown what you think of me, so I’ll let you know what I think of you. Bye-bye.”

    Administrators are so funny, sometimes.

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    So teachers in NC no longer have the ability to speak up for what’s best for kids.

    And a whole lot of know-nothings are glad.

    • No Mike, the secular saints of North Carolina can, in the unlikely situation that they care to, “speak up for what’s best for kids” but their bosses, and their bosses bosses, still don’t have to listen.

      That’s the nature of the district-based public education system your hysterical to defend from all threats.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        First of all, its “you’re” not your. Since I saw you replied early this morning I’m going to assume a lack of caffeine intake on your part.

        Secondly, the end of tenure rights, which is an incorrect usage of the term, it should read “due process rights” is a necessity in order for the “reform” crowd to privatize schools and run them for a profit.

        I hope the NC teachers sue.

        • Tenure’s one of those “rights” that exist due to legislative action so can be dispensed with via the same agency. The only “due process” considerations that apply are those that involve the passage of legislation.

          Much like exclusive collective bargaining laws which are going away for the same reason – a loss of political influence.

          Of course the North Carolina teacher’s union will sue. When you lose in the legislature the inevitable, and usually unsuccessful, fall back are the courts.

          • Mike in Texas says:

            If you’re going to argue the merits you should at least use the correct terminology. College professors get tenure, K-12 teachers get due process rights. It said to think people such as yourself would celebrate someone losing their due process rights.

            Here in Texas a lack of due process rights comes into play. I once had to threaten to use the Safe Schools Act to put an end to the constant bullying of one of my students, something I had tried in vain to get the administration to put an end to. Repercussions for me soon followed but as little legal protection I have it was enough to keep my job safe.

            Allen would prefer that teachers have no opinion and no protections and follow the orders of their overlords.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            It’s called different things in different places. In Massachusetts, it’s called “professional status.”

            I think most of us can agree that you should follow legitimate orders and not follow illegitimate ones. And it would be nice if we could be confident that administrators’ orders are always good ones.

  6. It was probably 20 years ago, that I was told by the MS principal that firing a teacher not only took a number of years (first documenting reasons, then “due process”), but cost at least $600k in legal fees etc. I’m not sure if the teacher’s salary was included, if s/he was on admin leave during the process. Because of that, few teachers were fired unless they had committed flagrant illegalities. The usual was to transfer to another (much less desirable) school (aka Dance of the Lemons), assign unpopular classes, allow to resign, or to stay until retirement. The last was done with my eldest’s senile 4th-grade teacher. Private schools suffer from none of those handicaps. The headmaster of a top-ranked academic private told me that my son’s science teacher would have been out the door within the first month – heads shared names of available replacements; as soon as it became obvious she didn’t know content and she was verbally abusive (recorded telling kids she hated them and wished they’d all die). The public school was still trying to get rid of her, three years later.

    • Mike in Texas says:


      That principal was full of BS. The whole notion that teachers can’t be fired comes from principals who aren’t doing their jobs.

      • Yawn.

        We’ve already plowed this ground so I suppose this is just a knee jerk, and largely ineffective, reaction to the transgressing of a taboo, i.e. mentioning how tough it is to can a lousy teacher.

      • It really varies based on district. And in the DC suburbs, districts are trying to achieve a certain racial balance among teachers. But members of minority groups can make more money for less work by working for the feds or federal contractors, who also have quotas to fill. So, the suburban school districts have a very poor pool of minority candidates to choose from. And so you get people like my 5th grade teacher–who’d failed the Praxis I 4 times, was functionally illiterate, and couldn’t handle the math problem “If Cupcakes come two to a pack, and each pack costs 50 cents, how many cupcakes can Bob get with $5.00” (She had to ask another teacher for help because her answer and the class’s answer were different. She thought 10 cupcakes. And told us we were getting confused about numbers and amounts.)

        Oh, and she used to kiss the boys or make them kiss her as punishment. And spent a good hour a day gushing about how she liked that guy from Miami Vice (forget his name.)

        But she was untouchable. And our school WAS the bottom of the MOCO barrel, so there she stayed…..

        • Mike in Texas says:

          Crockett or Tubbs?

          • The Tom one……Tom….. not Cruise. Ugly mustache. Looked like my uncle, so I didn’t understand her fascination with him…… she actually made a kid copy 20 dictionary pages once (after kissing him) because he wrote a spelling sentence that said “I don’t think Tom (whaterver’s) hair is real. He must wear a toupee.”

            Worst teacher ever. I swear she actually made us all DUMBER over the course of the year.

          • I think there’s some popular culture confusion occurring.

            The only mustachioed, gun-carrying, television guy I can think of is Tom Selleck in “Magnum P.I.”

          • Yeah! Tom Selleck! That was the guy. He was in 3 Men and a Baby, right? I wasn’t allowed to watch any of those shows as a kid, so I get them all confused.

      • In that district (see DM’s post below), it most certainly is not true. The district has almost 180,000 students (all levels) and 26 high schools (not including spec ed) and principals do not control hiring/firing; the county office makes many/most of those decisions, and all of the politically sensitive ones. The teacher in question was a black female science teacher, in a high-performing school with few black teachers (and not many students), and only one other female science teacher, which made her essentially untouchable. She was still there when my DD entered the school two years later. That’s the political reality.