Commentary by Brian Thornburg

I don’t know about you, but I really appreciate the hard working teachers in our neighborhood schools.  They do a tough job for one of the smallest paychecks in all 50 states.  When Governor Cooper recently announced his plan to get our teachers’ pay back to the national average, I was encouraged to say the least.

Teacher pay was frozen back during the last recession, when the Republican Party began their majority in the GA.  During that time, average teacher pay sank to the bottom of the list of states.  A steady exodus of good teachers to neighboring states and a growing list of businesses that passed on moving to our state forced the GA to try to fix the problem, but it was a short-sighted try.  They offered a plan that would only raise pay for new teachers, but left our best, veteran educators out.  Republicans have tried to blame the mess on Democrats, but I think they think we’re not paying attention.

Governor Cooper wants to get our teacher’s pay to the national average in five years, do it without raising taxes, get increases for all teachers and provide a small stipend so teachers won’t have to buy classroom supplies out of their own pockets.

Cooper has said “Education is part of North Carolina’s legacy, but recently we’ve fallen behind.  This proposal is a serious, multi-year increase in teacher salaries that will get us to the national average so we can show our teachers the respect they deserve.”

So, I don’t know about you, but I hope our General Assembly passes the Governor’s plan and gets our teachers back on par with the rest of the country.  If they do, maybe we can consider giving them a passing grade on their report card.