Editorial: Foul odor blowing through

Aug. 06, 2014 @ 11:53 PM

Teachers in North Carolina are trying to decipher just what they’ve caught wind of with average pay raises of 7 percent in the latest state budget.

Because foul odors in political races won’t stun anybody, we think they’re right to continue their quest for complete answers. Our best guess is they’ll never know for sure, but they will certainly have an opinion. November’s ballot box should hold that answer.

A year ago, Republicans were in control of both houses on Jones Street and the governor’s office for the first time in decades. They pushed through a budget teachers considered a slap in the face of education.

The budget passed with an offer for teachers to sign four-year contracts in order to get pay raises while gradually eliminating tenure. Teachers had gained one pay raise in five years.

Mad as fire and not willing to take it, teachers marched and protested in Raleigh. Their movement spilled into communities across the state.

A year later, the midterm election is warming up. House speaker Thom Tillis is locked in a tight race with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. Both are looking for the pivotal game-changer.

Arguably, the teacher raises could be that point — or the sword Tillis falls upon.

Tillis boasts his leadership led to the pay raises. True as it may be, flaws exist among veteran teachers believing they will have a net loss of pay from the elimination of longevity pay while teachers with less than five years skip to the bank with raises of more than 15 percent.

Interestingly, many veteran teachers a year ago were lamenting a lack of incentive for their profession among the younger generation. The change made isn’t sitting well when they feel their longevity pay is being used to fund healthy increases while they got little or nothing.

A respected Durham County teacher called it a shell game.

Worse still would be proof of an orchestrated plot using teachers as pawns against themselves for political gain. With about 70,000 votes available among them, we’re interested to see if their next lesson plan is on gratitude or comeuppance.