This week’s financial nod to teachers was an important one by Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-controlled legislature, but it should not be the only one.
That nod came in the form of a proposal to give teachers a 14 percent pay hike over a two-year period, a long-awaited acknowledgement that the group has been underpaid and basically ignored since 2009 when the Democratic-controlled General Assembly also failed to provide a financial boost.
It never got better. In fact, in many regards it got worse, with educators in the most recent legislative session losing both tenure and ending stipends for advanced degrees in the future.
The back-pedal to do something teachers greatly deserved long before they got it is a positive step forward, but it should be, as legislators have acknowledged, the first of many such steps that need to be taken.
North Carolina is embarrassingly behind in teacher pay and catching up looks next to impossible. But we must try. We can’t afford to lose the best and brightest to other state’s or other professions any more than we can afford to run good teachers currently in our classrooms away. Our students’ futures and, really the future of our state depends upon a stronger support system for educators.
Lawmakers must continue to act in positive and progressive ways when it comes to our teachers, and it’s up to us, their constituents, to provide the strong voice that forces even action to take place. We can make a difference if we lift our voices together in support of teachers and education, demanding better from those we’ve elected to represent us.
Our teachers deserve it, and we should stand behind them.