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Will Doran
By Will Doran June 29, 2017

NC teacher pay: Raises are much higher than the national average, but salaries still below-average

In his run for governor, Democrat Roy Cooper promised he'd put North Carolina on par with the rest of the nation in teacher pay.

He had done it before as a lawmaker in the 1990s, he said, and could do it again.

"As governor, I will value teachers by working in a bipartisan manner to strive to raise teacher pay to at least the national average," Cooper promised during his 2016 campaign, in which he unseated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.

The state's nearly 95,000 teachers are paid far less than the national average. To get there by next year, the average North Carolina teacher would need a 20 percent raise – from just less than $50,000 to more than $59,000.

That's not going to happen.

But the state will give its average teacher an estimated 3.3 percent raise next year, and state lawmakers have budgeted for an even bigger raise the year after that. 

If the national average keeps increasing at its current rate, of about 1 percent per year, it's feasible for North Carolina to catch up in a decade or less.

The legislature has said its two-year plan will raise the average teacher's salary by 9.6 percent; Cooper had proposed an even more aggressive plan that he said would've led to a 10.3 percent increase over two years.

So North Carolina is on track to eventually surpass the national average.

That's the continuation of a trend that predates Cooper. Over the past six years, the national average has risen by 6.4 percent. But the North Carolina average rose 8.5 percent  – including the nation's biggest raise in 2014, as we explained in a fact-check

And in this case, Cooper vetoed the budget that set aside the extra money. That, he said, was because he wanted even higher raises. He said GOP lawmakers spent too much money on tax cuts and not enough on education. The legislature promptly overrode Cooper's veto and passed the budget into law anyway.

While some Cooper promises stall because he can't get them through the legislature, in this case, a promise is on track because of legislative actions he opposes.

Moving toward the national average would happen sooner under Cooper's plan, but it's happening nonetheless. 

We rate this promise In The Works.

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