NC Voters: Pay teachers better

Published April 25, 2024

By Public Ed Works

Nearly 8 in 10 North Carolina voters support better pay raises for the state’s public school teachers next year.

In a statewide poll conducted for Public Ed Works before the NC General Assembly convenes next week, 78% of NC voters said K-12 public school teachers deserve a bigger raise than the 3% raise they are currently scheduled to receive in 2024-25.

The National Education Association ranked North Carolina 46th in starting teacher pay and 34th in average teacher salaries last year. Public school teachers’ pay is currently scheduled to increase to a starting salary of $41,000 and an average (including county supplements) of $60,671 in 2024-25, according to legislative estimates. The state started the current school year with 3,500 teacher vacancies.1

Among the poll’s findings:

  • NC voters have mixed views of the quality of K-12 public education in North Carolina: 30% rated the state’s public schools as excellent or good, 43% as fair, and 20% as poor.
  • Voters recognize schools don’t get enough support – two-thirds say K-12 public schools are underfunded: 65% of NC voters say public schools are somewhat or significantly underfunded. Only 12% say K-12 schools are significantly or somewhat overfunded.

  • When told how poorly North Carolina ranks, even more voters say schools are underfunded. When informed that North Carolina ranks 49th of 50 states in the portion of its economy it directs to K-12 public schools,2 73% of NC voters say schools are somewhat or significantly underfunded. Again, only 12% say schools are overfunded.

  • Huge support for paying teachers better: Informed that K-12 public school teachers make 26% less on average than comparable college-educated workers, 82% of NC voters say teachers should be paid closer to what comparably educated workers make, compared with 12% who disagree.

  • How much more? 78% of NC voters say K-12 public school teachers should be paid more than the 3% raise they’re currently scheduled to receive for 2024-25. Some 20% said teachers should receive a 5% raise, 22% said they deserve an 8% raise, and 36% said they deserve a 10% raise. Just 4% said teachers deserve no raise.

  • Mixed views of vouchers: Some 56% of NC voters say they oppose the NC General Assembly’s plan to expand vouchers to provide tax dollars for students to attend private schools regardless of a family’s income, while 39% say they support it.

  • Frustration in Eastern NC: There appears to be more frustration with public schools in Eastern North Carolina than the rest of the state. While 39% of voters statewide support vouchers to attend private school for students regardless of family income and 56% oppose such vouchers, the numbers are closer in the East: 43% of Eastern NC voters support vouchers regardless of income, and 50% oppose them.

The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research from April 9-13 and included telephone interviews with 625 registered North Carolina voters. It has a margin for error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

What it means is that North Carolina voters are painfully aware we’re not doing enough for our teachers and our schools as a state.

Voters know it. So should state legislators when our so-called “leaders” convene next week.

If they don’t, voters know what to do.