NC teachers push for higher pay as General Assembly weighs budget

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Tuesday is National Teacher Appreciation Day and teachers are asking the North Carolina General Assembly to show them some appreciation by giving them a pay raise.

“I knew going into it I wasn’t going to get rich.  Both of my parents are teachers,” said Amy Harrison, a Guilford County teacher.

But the passion for teaching is what drives Harrison, an elementary school teacher.

“My dad tried to talk me out of this and this was in the mid-90s, when things were going OK in education,” she said.

“We are no longer a teacher destination state,” said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Harrison, Ellis and Democratic state lawmakers spoke with reporters on National Teacher Appreciation Day.

The best way, they say, to be appreciated is to increase teacher salaries to at least the national average.

“The most sustainable thing we can do is to reward these CEO’s of the future, our teachers,” said Rep. Larry Hall, the House minority leader.

But Rep. Linda Johnson, a Republican from Cabarrus County, said teacher pay is a top priority for lawmakers.

“Besides being teachers, they’re surrogate parents really,” Johnson said. “They’re with the child so much.”

Johnson, the House education chair, defended the Republicans’ record when it came to education.

“I think that education has been first — we’ve proven that it’s been first, the last two budget cycles,” Johnson said.

Lawmakers are currently reviewing Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal, which calls for an average teacher salary of $50,000 a year, plus benefits.
For Harrison, a salary of $50,000 would mean a big raise.

“It would be nice to not have to work until 9:30, 10:00 on a weeknight,” she said.

McCrory launched a petition Tuesday to get North Carolinians to show their support for his plan.

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