By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Gov. Pat McCrory asked the State Board of Education on Wednesday to consider making a policy change to provide teachers currently pursuing their master’s degree with salary supplements. The board will make a decision on the policy change today.
“We have found the necessary funds through my budget office to ensure that over 3,000 teachers currently pursuing their master’s degrees will receive a salary increase when they graduate, an investment of over $10 million,” McCrory said in a statement released Wednesday.
Members of the state’s General Assembly in July passed a budget containing the provision that teachers must have received their master’s degrees prior to the start of the 2014-15 school year in order to receive salary supplements. The question that remains is whether the State Board of Education will be able to override the legislation.
“I talked with the education chair a couple of weeks ago about this very issue,” said Rep. Joe Tolson (D-Edgecombe.) “He is trying to work out some way that those who are finishing their master’s could get rewarded for it.”
Tolson said he believes teachers pursuing higher education should receive some sort of “monetary gain” for that.
“It’s valuable to have teachers with master’s degrees,” Tolson said. “Certainly you improve your skills and your knowledge level (by earning your master’s). It helps with your teaching ability.”
Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent John Farrelly is also an advocate for rewarding teachers for pursuing higher education.
“I am very supportive of any legislation that restores master's degree salary funding,” Farrelly said. “Dedicated teachers across the state pursue advanced degrees to hone their skills and improve learning outcomes for students. North Carolina Teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, this is the least we can do to support their growth in the profession.”
This year’s state budget also contained a provision to eliminate teacher tenure. McCrory on Wednesday vowed to advocate for raises for teachers in next year’s budget, citing costs related to the Medicaid program as the reason for this year’s lack of salary increase for teachers and other state workers.
“Too much education policy was slipped into the budget bill, causing serious concerns, especially from our teachers and educators,” McCrory said in a statement.
McCrory also announced his plans to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to exempt North Carolina from some of the testing requirements associated with the Race to the Top program.
“We continue to follow through on testing relief for teachers by reducing the number of
standardized tests, creating a local control option for our local education systems to innovate,” McCrory said in a statement. “This way our teachers can do what they do best…teach our
Farrelly said he supports “any pursuit to decrease the amount of required state summative testing.”
“ECPS continues to emphasize the need for continual formative assessment of learning on a daily basis to meet student needs,” he said. “However, the ever increasing required summative testing program is impacting learning time in classrooms across the State.”