This morning’s News & Observer runs a story about an upcoming NCAE report chronicling teacher and staff job losses and the slippage in educational quality — or at least the slippage as perceived by national groups that attempt to measure such elusive categories. The story includes a graph showing how NC average teacher salaries have lost ground relative to other states.
Some caveats on the graph. First, the data is compiled by the National Education Association, NCAE’s parent organization. Second the use of average salary data has numerous shortcomings. It fails to account for regional variation in cost of living. For example, higher salary levels in the northeast don’t necessarily equate with higher purchasing power. Most importantly however, the NEA average salary figures do not include compensation for employee benefits, which in many cases are substantial.
My friend Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation has done a good job in pointing this out. He has written persuasively on how accurate estimates of North Carolina teachers salaries should include compensation and also make considerations for years of experience. Terry hasn't published his annual teacher salaries report yet. However, the 2009 report shows that when adjusted for pension contributions, teacher experience and cost of living, NC teacher salaries are about $4,000 above the national average and 14th highest in the nation.
Incorporating such consideration with this year's data will most certainly improve the relative position of NC average teacher salaries.