By D. Craig Horn
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” For some reason, this quote makes me think of our teachers in Union County and in all of North Carolina. They expend tireless effort making young lives better by giving of themselves.
Saying “thank you” to our teachers is something we don’t seem to remember to do enough. But, words alone are not enough. I want to use this forum to thank Union County teachers and teachers all over North Carolina. But, genuine appreciation requires more than just words. It requires action.
This is why I have supported state budgets that included raises for our teachers. This year, North Carolina teachers will receive their fifth consecutive raise from Republican leaders in the state General Assembly.
According to the National Education Association, we are ranked top-2 for fastest rising teacher pay in the U.S. for two years in a row. The average raise for our teachers from 2017 to 2019 will be $4,412. The average raise for North Carolina teachers over the last five years is $8,600, a 19.1 percent increase in average teacher pay.
Due to this string of salary increases, a sixth-year North Carolina teacher will earn $9,200 more in the 2018-19 school year than in their first year of teaching in 2013, a 29.9 percent increase. A 13th year teacher will earn $15,330 more over the same period. A 17th year teacher, $11,840 more. A 26th year teacher will earn $9,040 more than in 2013.
The average teacher pay in North Carolina is now over $50,000, which is well over the state’s average income and starting teacher pay is now $35,000.
I’m not saying we are where we ultimately want to be. I am certainly aware that some of our veteran teachers have not enjoyed similar pay increases. So there is much more work to be done. But we are making huge strides in showing teachers real appreciation for their hard work. We will keep working hard for them.
We are truly blessed to have so many hard-working and dedicated teachers in our community. To every teacher in Union County and in the entire state, please accept my gratitude, my appreciation and my respect.
D. Craig Horn represents District 68 (Union County) in the N.C. House of Representatives.