Education system in the US has been in the limelight for the past decades. According to The New York Times analysis, American students are among the most underperforming students in developed countries (Eggers and Calegart, 2014). When students’ performance declines, the society is quick to blame it on the teachers. However, very few people are concerned about the welfare of the teachers, their motivation in the workplace or even the challenges that they are facing (Holmlund et al., 2010). Analysts have identified that teachers earn about 14% less than other professionals in occupations that requires the same level of education (Eggers and Calegart, 2014). Although a teacher’s salary may vary from one state to another, the variation should not be taken at the face value as ne need to take into account the variations in the living cost across states. Given the variability in the cost of living, a particular income may be more valuable in certain states than others. In light of this, this study compares the value of a teacher’s salary in the state of North Carolina (NC) with the respective pays in Virginia, New York and Mississippi states.
Teachers’ salaries in the US vary with various factors including; one’s experience and the level of education (Richwine and Biggs, 2014). Educationists may also acknowledge certain disciplines than others; for example, science and mathematics teachers are highly paid than arts subject teachers. Within the state, moreover, different districts may observe their own payroll schedule. Also, teacher’s compensation in public schools differs from the private institutions. In this analysis, however, the study is restricted to an average degree holder class teacher in public schools. According to Guttenplan (2012), different schools will, in addition to the official teacher’s compensation, offer a range of benefits to motivate their teachers. Being schools’ initiative, such benefits are not uniform, neither across districts or states. This study, therefore, does not consider such school based packages on its evaluation.
Teachers in the state of NC are among the lowest paid, yet NC is not among the least expensive states to live in the US. According to the NC State Board Education (2014), the average entry level salary for a graduate teacher in NC is $30,800. This value increases with the years worked since the teacher is compensated for continuing service. While accounting for the longevity pay, however, the board estimates that their graduate teachers earn $45,947 on average. This average pay is 17% lower that the country’s average teachers pay which stands at $55,418 as per the 2013-2014 report (National Education Association, 2014). In terms of teachers’ pay, NC ranks 46th among the fifty US states.
How does NC’s teachers’ remuneration schedule compares to the neighboring state of Virginia? According to the National Education Association’s analysis (2014), Virginia is ranked 30th in the state’s teachers remuneration ranking. On average, a teacher in this state earns $48,703, approximately 5% more than teachers in NC. Although they may seem to earn a better pay than their counterparts in NC, there is no significant variation in worth due to the difference in the living cost in the two states. Contradictorily, teachers little pay in NC could be more valuable than that of Virginia. For example, it takes an approximate 10% more income for one to maintain the Raleigh city’s living standards in Richmond City, Virginia (Payscale Syndication Center, 2014). Contrary, teachers in Virginia earn only 5% more than those in NC.
Comparing the in NC’s teachers pay with that of a more developed state such as New York State, it is clear that NC under-pays its teachers. While it only requires 19% more income to maintain an equal living standard in Albany, New York as in Raleigh, NC, teachers in New York earns approximately twice as much as those in NC. According to the National Education Association’s report (2014), graduate teachers in New York earns, on average, $73,398 and are among the highest paid teachers in the country. Despite the difference in the states living cost, it is worthwhile for a teacher to work in New York as opposed to NC.
When compared to poor states such as Mississippi, NC fares a little well in its teacher’s remuneration schedule. While a teacher in NC is earning $45,947, his fellow in Mississippi earns $41,646, which is 9% less (National Education Association, 2014). Nonetheless, according to the cost of living calculator, living cost is lower in Mississippi than in NC. For example, one can maintain a similar living standard in Jackson, Mississippi as in Raleigh, NC with 6% less income (Payscale Syndication Center, 2014). This clearly indicates that teachers in NC are better off than those in Mississippi.
Although the teachers earning in North Carolina fall below the US average pay, it may be more affluent when evaluated against the salaries and the cost of livings in other state. For example, teachers pay in Virginia may rank way better than NC while it is critically low in worth. Nonetheless, education policy makers in NC should be challenged by the teachers’ remuneration policies in the developed states such as New York. Teachers are primary stakeholders in education who prays vital roles in the success of the education system. It is; therefore, critical to ensure that their comfort is addressed.
Eggers, D and Calegari C., N. (2014). The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries. The New York Times.
Guttenplan, D. (2012). How Much Is Professor Worth? The New York Times.
Holmlund, H., McNally, S., & Viarengo, M. (2010). Does money matter for schools?. Economics of education review, 29(6), 1154-1164.
NC State Board Education. (2014). Salaries and Benefits. Public schools of NC.
National Education Association. (2014). Rankings of the States 2013 and Estimates of School Statistics 2014.
Payscale Syndication Center. Cost of living calculator.
Richwine, J. and Biggs, A. (2014). Critical Issues in Assessing Teacher Compensatio. The Heritage Foundation.