Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mystery group pushes higher teacher pay

Aim Higher NC is holding a press conference in Charlotte today to urge people to petition state officials for higher teacher pay.  The group has logged more than 26,500 electronic signatures since organizing in response to a January op-ed piece by former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt urging state lawmakers to get the state's teacher pay up to the state average.

"Not talk about it, or vaguely promise it, but do it,"  Hunt wrote.  "Our hard-working teachers deserve it. Today their pay ranks 46 among the 50 states. They could make as much as $10,000 a year more just by moving to South Carolina, Virginia or Tennessee to teach."

So who is Aim Higher?  The web site provides no clue,  saying only that it is  "paid for by Aim Higher NC."

Mecklenburg teachers Andrew Shimko and Jasmine Newsom,  Union County teacher Dawn Moretz and Union County parent Jill Carilli are listed as speakers.  (Carilli's own teacher-pay petition on has logged almost 22,000 signatures.  She seems to have moved to the area from Arizona last summer.)

I asked Rob Black,  who sent the news release about the Charlotte event,  to explain more about the group.  Black said he's employed by Aim Higher,  which is made up of teachers,  parents and others,  but he declined to say who's footing the bills.

"Our funders have asked to remain anonymous,"  he said.  "You see what happens when people speak out.  They often end up targeted for retribution."

He wouldn't be more specific about what kind of retribution he's talking about.  The N.C. Association of Educators has a page promoting the Aim Higher push,  but Black said Aim Higher is not affiliated with NCAE.

Rob Christensen,  the News & Observer's political columnist,  says Black is a longtime political operative generally working with labor and Democratic politics.

Update: Joe Nolan,  House Speaker Thom Tillis' chief of staff,  got curious enough to look up the group's application for incorporation with the secretary of state's office. The applicant is listed as Sabra Faires,  an attorney for Bailey & Dixon law firm,  which Nolan describes as "the go-to law firm for all liberal advocacy." 

Pushing for better teacher pay strikes me as neither nefarious nor particularly risky. But  "grassroots"  groups that hide their financing make me wary.

Read more here:


Wiley Coyote said...

...Rob Christensen, the News & Observer's political columnist, says Black is a longtime political operative generally working with labor and Democratic politics.

Interesting in that the New Hypocrisy Party under Bev Perdue were the ones who cut pay, froze salaries and raided the Education Lottery twice for other state bills...

Anonymous said...

I don't give a flying fig Newton about what party did what when...what I care about is the fact that testing is out of control, I made less money this year than last year and it has gone down every year for five years, my Master's degree is worth CRAP now, and I teach 187 kids due to the lift on the class size cap. Don't care who did what when as that is in the past...whoever it is NOW...LET'S GET THIS MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!!!

Shamash said...

"But "grassroots" groups that hide their financing make me wary."

It can't be more complex than the funding web behind Common Core.

Maybe Elevation Church is behind this.

CO should investigate.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, I am a conservative but come on.. The Republicans came in with an ax to grind. I understand Bev abandoned teachers when the sky fell. I think that's one of the reasons she didn't run again. The Republicans came in and not only did not give a raise or plan forward for teachers but cut.. Cut resources, cut masters pay, cut assistants and cut funding. A teachers in Las Vegas makes almost 20k more after 11 years of teaching. My son is going there instead of teaching here..I didn't even know Las Vegas had schools. Can you blame him. A teacher here after 11 years makes 41.. Vegas 61.. Come on.. Next year a CMS teacher after 12 years will make 41. They are in some from of limbo. The only reason Mcory is talking raise now is independents many conservative (like my self) are angry over these moves. I am for school choice. I am for less testing and against Obama ed but don't punish teachers. My friends son ( a conservative) could have been anything, anything. He likes working with kids and wants to teach. He knows he will not be rich but he should not be punished either.

Anonymous said...

Union County has a job posting for a parks and rec attendant with a salary range offering of $29,000-$44,000. This is the salary range of teachers with less than 10 years experience. State benefits included plus a 5% contribution to a supplemental 401K. Education required- high school and customer service experience. Teachers are asked to do so much more and get paid so much less. Unbelievable how this state expects its teachers to perform with so little pay.

Anonymous said...

Friends son.. I would not let mine. Thankless job. No one is ever happy.

Anonymous said...

After 12 years next year a teacher will only make 41.. The parks and rec job pays more..

Anonymous said...

NC AFL-CIO has a link to AIM Higher NC. Noticed posted on Meck ACTS facebook page originally said Jim Hunt would speak at rally scheduled earlier in January (but was postponed). Is Jim Hunt part of this group? I also read somewhere that the local Occupy group was supporting the rally--maybe their facebook page. Pamela, what can you tell us about this group, since your facebook page promotes its rally?

Anonymous said...

Mcory, Tillis and the rest of the gang are a disappointment.. NC conservatives have always worked with teachers. This is not New York.. Teachers are nor making 6 figures.. When I grew up we knew our teachers. My father and I had some of the same teachers. I have 2 children 2 years apart. They go to the same school and have never had the same teachers. My sons teacher is awesome but will be leaving to teach in V.A.. I am for school choice and vouchers but it doesn't help me, I make to much money. I can not pay for private. I like my kids school and teachers. I want them to stay.

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...


I've said all along that the legislature could have found money to give teachers back some or all of the money they lost under Perdue.

The notion that paying teachers X salary equals success doesn't hold water. People have been arguing over what teachers make for many years, so this is not something new.

Regarding Masters pay, look up the Federal government's definition of what a "highly qualified teacher" is. Having a Masters degree isn't one of the criteria.

I do agree that the more knowledge or schooling you have related to your job should translate into higher pay, but determining that should be left up to what the market will bear.

gwalkerruns said...

Wiley, we all idolize you, you are smarter than anyone and should run for governor. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

I agree Wiley but that is the way teachers are paid and if this state doesn't do something, they will leave. We have always lost new teachers who went back north.. We can't compete, but now thirty something home grown teachers are leaving. My neighbors daughter is leaving for a 15k raise.. We are below market. She's not going north, she's going south. She went to Duke.. We need to do something, it's getting ridiculous. I think it will stop business from coming here. The vouchers are a good idea but they are only for free lunch kids. Middle class workers are out once again. I wouldn't bring my small company here with a school districts who can't keep it's teachers.

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...


CMS and public education in general isn't in the shape it's in due to teachers not getting paid X dollars.

Not bringing a/your company here shouldn't be based soley on teacher pay. The whole system is a screwed up mess.

Until we eliminate the political correctness, diversity at all cost directives and get down and dirty as to who qualifies for which programs and spend money accordingly, nothing will change.

With 50 states, there will always be a top, a bottom and somewhere inbetween when it comes to any ranking - including teacher pay.

Does anyone really believe raising NC teacher pay to where it moves the bar from say 40th to 20th going to make one ounce of difference in the schools?

It may make you feel good teachers are making more money, but in my opinion, it's not going to make much of a difference in the classroom.

If paying teachers more money is supposed to fix schools, then why aren't New York, Detroit and Chicago schools at the top?

Anonymous said...

My life long freind growing up was always smarter then me. Always pushed me to do the right thing instead of the fun thing. He went to a better school then me and did well. He helped with my studies to get into grad school. He became a teacher and I went into business. I now make 4x him. I know because I can find what he makes on the education page of the charlotte observer. When me and some friends from school, many of whom have never be inside or have seen a college, yet all make more then him. He always orders the cheapest special. He has the same car from school. His family struggles with day to day bills and its hard on his marriage. But he loves this dam state and will not leave. When I see this it makes me HATE. These are our friends, neighbors, coworkers spouses, and mothers. Do you really think political leanings or philosophy is more important then the people in our lives? Who cares witch group starter screwing teachers.. I want to vote for the group that fixes it. I voted for Mcory. I thought he was a problem solver. He found money to give his cronies raise. Tilllis gave a golden parachute to his roommates that where fired for inappropriate relationships with a lobbyist. He said they had family responsibilities. What about my friends family? He wasn't caught with his hand in the cookie jar or sum lobbyists pants. Why is he being screwed. At the end of the day, Wiley, you will go Republican no matter what. That's fine, my dad was the same way. Others will go Democratic no matter what.. Independents win elections and the boys and girls in Raleigh will be out of work if things do not change. Most the people I know are independents, really to busy for politics.. I do not know one who is happy with the treatment of teachers or the current legislative group. Smarten up or you will be sent home.

Pamela Grundy said...

As you ask, several groups were represented at the rally, including the NCAE, Progress North Carolina, Action NC, and MecklenburgACTS. MecklenburgACTS was asked to spread the word and we did because raising teacher pay is a cause that we support (in case anyone is wondering about our funding, we are an all-volunteer group that does not take donations). Gov. Hunt was scheduled to speak at the rally that was originally scheduled for last week, but apparently could not make this one.

Wiley Coyote said...


I'm an unaffiliated voter. I don't subscribe to either party platform.

I have liberal and conservative views but I try to be pragmatic and look at the issues from all sides and take emotion out of it.

I posted on another opinion blog today that I wish Michael Barnes would run for Mayor, as he seems to be the only person in city government with a brain and common sense. I don't believe that makes me a Republican anymore than a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Ironic that Charlotte wants to pay Stanley/Black and Decker to bring lower paying widget assembly jobs from Mexico to Steele Creek at higher pay than NC teachers. There's still time to make it to the Virginia Regional Teacher's Fair in Salem,Virginia Saturday morning. Be sure and tell 'em you saw it in the Charlotte Observer Classifieds Sunday.

Anonymous said...

People vote on emotion, always have. I am against abortion, hate taxes and wish DC would fall into the river. What's happening to teachers is wrong. 7 years of nothing is BS.. Every other state has figured it out.. I am sick of hearing excuses from talking heads. My Aunt was a teacher and she would role over in her grave if she saw the current treatment of our teachers.

Anonymous said...

Massachusetts is one on the top states for education in the country. It's teachers are paid very well and it has good demographics. NC could do the same in most areas. Not all but most
Adjust for cost of living and pay. New York Detroit and Chicago have bad demographics but do well, better then NC in the suburbs. There small suburb school districts kick the crap out of NC. It's demographics and numbers folks.

Anonymous said...

11:06, I agree, the states who do best pay teachers well. Looking over state test scores, best schools and common sense, none of the well performing states have low teacher pay. All of them pay for masters and timed served. They have unions. Its demographics.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of unions but seeing the current treatment of teachers, I can see y they would want one.

Wiley Coyote said...


You're cherry picking.

Look at the stats for NY City Schools, Detroit Public Schools and Chicago Public schools. Look at what teachers make versus results.


Salaries (annual average)
Teachers: $74,839

Administrators: $120,659

Graduation rate: 61%

New York City:

Average teacher salary: $69,901 (can make $100,000 over time)

Graduation rate: 64.7%

Detroit Public Schools:

Average teacher salary: $71,031

Graduation rate: 65%

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools:

Average teacher salary: $44,600

Graduation rate: 81%

So, we have an 81% graduation rate with 54% poverty, 32% White Student population and the average salary is $44,600.

Compare that to the other three cities listed. We seem to do quite well wouldn't you say?

Anonymous said...

If you take demographics, with the extremely low pay, CMS does well..

Anonymous said...

12:41, you are proving my point.. I am talking about a state, not a city. CMS has always done well compared to other cities. But as a whole state we do not.. Look at PA. Not Philadelphia but PA. If anything is shows CMS teachers deserve a raise.. These silly numbers

Anonymous said...

11:06.. Do you need help with the difference between a city and a state.. Lol

Shamash said...

It just doesn't make good sense to be a lower paying state surrounded by much higher paying states in any industry.

It tends to make your state the training ground for the other states.

Especially with mobility being what it is today.

We aren't in the horse and buggy era any longer.

IF it hasn't already happened, NC will become the place where people may go to get a start in their careers, but where they leave as quickly as they build up a resume.

Not a smart use of money at all.

Unless that's what you really want to be.

But why would you want that?

Shamash said...

Anon 9:53 pm.

Maybe you've stumbled upon the new state "jobs" strategy.

Since NC is already at the bottom of the list of states for "upward mobility" maybe the idea is to become the low cost producer of choice.

In order to do that and attract more "shovel ready" jobs, WE NEED MORE PEOPLE WITH SHOVELS.

Not degrees.

So, we don't be needin' none of dat edumacation stuff no more.

We just need to keep wages lower than China and Mexico and the world will beat a path to our door.

It's all about "job" creation.

No matter how poorly paid.

It's the "new normal".


Carol S. said...

Let's give the teachers a raise. Most people would agree that it's the right thing to do.

So, where will the money come from? How about reducing bus transportation services? Just for CMS that's a $63million budget. We all agree that the buses could run more efficiently, less routes would allow saner school start times.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of you, I am so dissapointed with the leadership in this State. I really thought McCrory would bring a positive and balanced approach but sadly I was mistaken. I also agree, neither Mike Easley or Bev Purdue did anything to help teachers financially however, it is worth noting that neither of them hurt our teachers by taking things away, as McCrory has.
My children attend public schools and we have been extremely pleased with the level of instruction provided, our schools have exceeded our expectations.

Anonymous said...

Hate to say it but with the push for more technology in the class, teachers are doing less teaching and more administrative work.

Teachers will be obsolete soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Not only will Charlotte loose teachers to other STATES, there will also be a mass exodus to the PRIVATE sector. It is happening now. Look at how much CMeS spends on recruiting trip to try and attract teachers to Charlotte.

Lifers (15+) have no choice but the younger teachers are a FOOL to stay in education in this city and state.

Anonymous said...

If you are not a current CMS teacher, let me enlighten you on what is going on and WHY if this is not fixed soon, our city will be in trouble.

At any given school, teachers are leaving - not at the end of the school year - but giving their 30 days notice and leaving. For the first time I am watching my peers stand up and say I am better than this. Sure, where there is a supportive principal and PTA it probably is not as much mid-year turnover. At my school, this not the case so barely a week has gone by since November that another staff member has not resigned.

We have created the perfect storm in NC: poor pay, poor treatment, terrible work conditions, poor leadership that is ignored by the Superintendent, and a total disrespect of this community of bloggers. (Teachers read this blog and the terrible things you say about us being whiners and that we should be grateful for having a job in this economy and blah, blah, blah . . .)

As each staff member has resigned, the rest of the staff has congratulated the person for getting out. I attend area meetings and this is not just happening at my school - although it is more prevalent.

Blame whatever and whoever, but the fact is when no one wants to teach at your most neediest schools the candidates that will come to teach there will only be of lower standards than what you have currently employed. Parents of those students in the high performing schools, beware - they will have to staff those low performing schools somehow . . .

Higher pay attracts and affords you the choice to higher a better quality teacher. When NC realizes this will be the determining factor of survival for CMS. A major teacher shortage of QUALITY teachers is going to cause major issues.

Personally, the decision has been made to not stick around and watch this happen. On to bigger and better things - "It's ashame though - I do love teaching my students.", said every CMS teacher who has resigned.

Anonymous said...

Not 11:06 Wiley