Our View: Is there money for teacher raises?

Nov. 19, 2013 @ 09:14 PM

It was good to read in Monday’s Enterprise that state Sen. Jerry Tillman is following up on a comment about teacher’s salaries that he made earlier this year when the Legislature was dealing with state budget issues and reducing funding in a number of areas.
When teachers salaries were frozen for another year and many of the state’s teachers expressed their frustrations, Tillman, a retired educator showed some understanding of their plight. A Republican from Archdale who represents Randolph and Montgomery counties, Tillman commented that had it not been for a serious state funding issue involving North Carolina’s Medicaid program, teacher’s salaries probably would have been increased a bit in the budget that went into effect July 1. He said he hoped the state could do something about salaries next year.
That sentiment, of course, back then did little to relieve the frustrations of the many teachers around the state who have gone two, three, four, five years without pay increases. Many teachers complained that they were not being respected or appreciated. And they let legislators, and everyone else around the state, know it.
However, once-again freezing teachers salaries was not a sign of under-appreciation or a lack of respect. It’s just been a series of tough years of revenues and balanced budgets for Legislatures — both Democrat and Republican — to deal with. One can understand teachers’ frustrations about going without raises for several years. But many, many taxpayers across North Carolina in all kinds of jobs are familiar with that frustration.
Tillman, however, is hoping the Legislature can stop the salary freeze and find funding that will enable legislators to give teachers a raise next budget year. He and a Senate committee are, while the Legislature is not in session, studying possible ways in which funding could be found or funds shifted from other areas to provide teachers with raises.
Raises for classroom teachers won’t be inexpensive, and certainly there are competing needs across state government for funding. But we’re glad Tillman is following through and trying to find help for the teachers.