NC Average Teacher Salary Figures Misleading? Numbers Don’t Lie

RALEIGH – Now that average teacher pay in North Carolina has eclipsed the $50,000 mark, many on the Left point to the ‘average’ figure as misleading. Some teachers also dismiss the figure because they personally don’t make the average.

Obviously an average does not give the clearest picture about the distribution of salary ranges, but is the listed average teacher salary of $51,214 really that misleading?

Plenty of teachers certainly do make less than the average. However, large percentages of teachers make plenty more than the average. An average salary, mind you, that is nearly equal to the median HOUSEHOLD income for families across North Carolina.

WRAL set out to spin up more suspicion about teacher salary figures, and ended up making the case not only have the Republican raises made teacher far better off, but also did some serious damage to the Left’s ‘living wage’ narrative.

“Alexis Schauss has been in charge of determining that number since 2002. She is director of school business for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

“On this average teacher compensation number, you can certainly argue against it in certain numbers, but what I do stand by is that we calculate it consistently from year to year,” Schauss said. “So when you’re looking at the trends and the changes, it is a comparable number, at least back to 2002, because that’s when I started. We pretty much haven’t made any changes.””

So the stage is set with literal consistency among those calculating the figures. The State didn’t have up to date information for all 100 counties, so WRAL polled a cross section of counties to get their numbers.

So how impoverished are teachers really? How much worse is the reality than the average figures boasted by Republican lawmakers?

“More than half of Wake County’s teachers make the state’s average teacher salary, $51,214, or more, according to November 2017 salary data the district provided to WRAL News. The data showed the following:

  • Wake County public schools has 10,326 teachers.
  • Wake County’s average teacher salary is $54,046. (A Wake schools spokeswoman said their research shows the actual average salary is $53,469. It’s unclear how they calculated that number.)
  • 5,619 of the 10,326 teachers – 54.4 percent – make more than the state’s average teacher salary of $51,214.

The majority of teachers – more than 9,400make between $40,000 and $70,000 a year.”

More than half make MORE than the average salary of $51, 214. Hmmm. How much do you want to bet that Wake County will be one of, if not THE highest represented counties in next Wednesday’s walkout/protest at the General Assembly?

“But this is Wake County, one of the richest counties in the Old North State that offers the largest county supplement. So, what about those other counties?

Graham County, also in the far western part of the state, is another district where teachers get no supplemental pay from their county. Like Clay County, the majority of Graham County’s teachers make less than the state’s average teacher salary, $51,214, according to data the district provided. The data showed the following:

  • Graham County has 99 teachers.
  • Graham’s average teacher salary is $45,610.
  • 29 of the 99 teachers – 29.3 percent – make more than the state’s average teacher salary of $51,214.

Graham County’s highest-paid teacher makes $75,108 and has 28 years of experience, is National Board Certified with a Master’s degree and works 12 months a year, according to the district’s data. The next two highest-paid teachers make $62,590 a year.

A majority of Graham County’s teachers – nearly 70 teachers – make between $35,000 and $50,000 a year.

So this rural county with no county supplement still sports nearly a third of teachers that make more than the state average salary of $51,214.

WRAL points out that the highest paid teacher in Graham County has to work 12 months out of the year, as if that is a point worthy of sympathy.

One wonders what the cost of living is in a place like Graham County? With a huge majority of teachers making between $35,000-$50,000 (and many having at least a couple months off every year) it’s hard to connect these figures with the tale of poverty told by the Left.

It seems as if this figures do not include retirement or health benefits, both of which are quite generous when working for the State.

The last time Democrats were in power they were passing budgets that necessitated teacher layoffs around the state. The Republicans are set to give their fifth consecutive teacher pay raise and are sporting one of the fasted rates of increase in the country. Large percentages, in many cases majorities, of teachers are making more in salary than huge portions of working families across North Carolina.

If Democrats were the ones in power they would be celebrating these numbers, but instead the issue (and teachers themselves) are being used as political pawns in a campaign season.

How will this play, though, across the state when workers supporting their family of four on $40,000 a year see a Wake County teacher pulling in $75,000 holding a sign and screaming, demanding a “livable wage” to be paid for by taxpayers?

See more of the salary breakdowns in different North Carolina counties here.

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