By | November 8, 2019

 By , NC Policy Watch

It’s looks like North Carolina educators won’t get a pay raise in 2019.

Nevertheless, teachers appear to be standing with Gov. Roy Cooper in opposition to a Republican-led General Assembly’s plan to increase teacher pay by 3.9%.

On Friday, Cooper vetoed the proposed 3.9% pay increase approved by lawmakers for teachers along with a 2% increase for non-instructional staff, arguing the increases simply aren’t enough.

The Democrat favors a compromise that would mean 8.5% raise for teachers over two years. The current Republican proposal would amount to a 2.0% raise in 2019-20 and 1.8% in 2020-2021.

The N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) issued this statement:

“North Carolina educators rejected the Republican budget as anemic and insulting in June, and we reject essentially the same today,” said NCAE President Mark Jewell. “We stand behind Governor Cooper’s veto of this bill and demand the leaders in the General Assembly stop wasting time on failed veto overrides and unpopular corporate tax cuts and start spending time doing the hard work of governing. Educators, students, and families have been waiting and watching since January, and it is past time for Republican leadership to work in good faith towards the public education priorities they purport to embrace.”

Cooper’s veto of the GOP’s pay plan for educators followed a week of teacher protest across North Carolina over better pay and increased funding for education.

Protests took place in Durham, High Point and other locations around the state.

Teachers also shared their opinions about the governor’s veto on social media.

“The NCGA will not divide us from our students and families by trying to buy us off with minuscule teacher pay raises in exchange for Medicaid expansion, student support staff, raises for classified staff, and everything else our communities need,” Anna Grant, a Community School Coordinator in Durham wrote on her Facebook page.

Cooper’s veto was quickly criticized by Republican leaders.

“Teachers are told to be good, loyal Democrats and their union and their Governor will take care of them. But they need to ask themselves: ‘What has Roy Cooper ever done for me?’ He’s vetoed every single teacher pay raise that’s come across his desk, and he chose today to give teachers nothing for the next two years,” said Senate leader Phil Berger.

And House Speaker Tim Moore offered this: “Instead of having more money over the holidays, teachers will continue to wait for Gov. Cooper to put their needs ahead of other issues.”

Rhonda Dillingham, executive director of the N.C. Association for Public Charter Schools, said Nov. 8 will be remembered as the “true Black Friday in North Carolina.”

“With his veto of SB354, the “Strengthening Educator Pay Act,” the Governor [Cooper] has dashed the hopes of our state’s teachers, making their ability to care for their families more difficult,” Dillingham said in a statement. “Instead of looking forward to the holidays with excitement, our state’s teachers will once again be forced to tighten their belts. North Carolina’s teachers deserve better! North Carolina’s charter schools stand with our teachers!”

At a morning press conference surrounded by teachers wearing red (Red for Ed), Cooper asked Republicans to meet with him to negotiate teacher pay raises.

Cooper said the negotiations wouldn’t be linked to Medicaid expansion, which he sought but did not receive in the budget submitted by lawmakers.

“I will negotiate these educator raises separate and apart from Medicaid expansion and other budget issues,” Cooper said. “There is no Medicaid ultimatum and Republican leaders have clearly used this false premise to shortchange teachers,” Cooper said.