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Mon April 21, 2014
Town Hall Meeting Will Focus on NC Teacher Pay
A group of students from Wake Forest University is organizing a town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss teacher pay in the state.
Samantha Geary, a junior on campus and a member of Students for Education Reform NC, plans to teach elementary school when she graduates. But she says the state’s education woes could impact her career path.
"I’m from Winston-Salem and my family is here and it would be awesome if I would stay in this state and teach, but because of the current state of the teacher pay issue I don't think that is an option right now for me,” says Geary. “This is an opportunity to put out that future teacher voice and say we are not looking at current teaching opportunities in North Carolina because of the current situation.”
Students for Education Reform NC consists of college students from all over the state, including Duke University , East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University. Last week, several students gathered outside of the General Assembly Building in Raleigh calling for teacher pay raises and more respect for the profession.
A legislative committee in Raleigh is looking at teacher effectiveness and compensation. The committee has taken testimony from local school district leaders using incentives to attract teachers in hard-to-staff schools and subjects. It's also been looking at how to reward performance and retain skilled teachers.
Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders have already committed to a plan raising early career teacher salaries from approximately $31,000 to $35,000 by fall 2015. According to a recent report from the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 46th in the nation for average teacher salaries. The average salary in Our State is about $46,000—ten thousand dollars shy of the national average.
Geary says the focus of Tuesday’s public forum will be closer to home. “What we are trying to do at Wake is a local version of what Students for Education Reform is doing since we are not in Raleigh. What will have a panel with several Winston-Salem/Forsyth County teachers, a Wake Forest student, school board members, PTA members, teachers, just several stakeholders in the community. We will also have an open forum for all of the audience members to share their opinions and experiences about the teacher pay debate,” she says.
Meanwhile, Geary hopes lawmakers will also reconsider changes they’ve made to phase out tenure for public school teachers and to eliminate extra pay for advanced degrees.
The town hall meeting on teacher pay will take place April 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem.
Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news