RALEIGH (November 17, 2022) – The Education & Law Project at the North Carolina Justice Center released a new report cautioning policymakers and education advocates about the potential dangers of a performance pay plan for North Carolina’s public school teachers. The proposed plan, Pathways to Excellence, is undeveloped, based on thin research, and lacks support from educators.
The report pushes back on the radical overhaul proposed by the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, which will distract from proven efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of teachers.
The plan would end the current practice of paying teachers based on their credentials and years of service, instead basing teacher pay on measures of effectiveness and their willingness to assume additional responsibilities. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how to measure effectiveness and educators are already overburdened. Moving forward would likely further cement North Carolina’s reputation as a state inhospitable to educators.
“North Carolina continues to offer some of the least-competitive teacher salaries in the nation,” writes Kris Nordstrom, Senior Policy Analyst at the NC Justice Center and author of the report. “Legislators have waged a 12-year crusade against teachers by eliminating benefits and undermining working conditions. These attacks — not the lack of a performance pay scheme — lie at the heart of our teacher staffing challenges.”
While it is clear that North Carolina faces a serious problem with teacher recruitment and retention, any steps taken to remedy this problem should be grounded in data and seek to use already-proven tactics such as broad-based pay raises, permitting collective bargaining, and restoring benefits gutted by the legislature over the past decade.
In addition, fully implementing the Leandro plan would improve working conditions for teachers, reinstitute mentoring for early career teachers, and help retention and recruitment in high-poverty rural districts throughout the state.
“The teacher shortage demands immediate, aggressive, and proven action,” said Nordstrom. “Pathways threatens to distract from actions that we know will help students and instead may alienate already overburdened teachers and administrators.”
The Pathways Plan will be considered by the State Board of Education at their upcoming meeting on November 30. If approved, the General Assembly will use the 2023 legislative session to finalize the plan’s methods for measuring teacher effectiveness, determine an implementation plan, and provide the associated funding.