The Pulse

New teacher licensure and pay model moves to State Board of Education

By: - November 10, 2022 4:30 pm

(This story has been updated to include a statement from  the N.C. Association of Educators.)

The state commission working to revamp teacher licensure and pay structures narrowly approved a “Blueprint for Action” on Thursday to send to the State Board of Education to advance the process.

The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) approved the proposal on a 9-7 vote.

Technical difficulties and the absence of several members who left the online meeting early and were not present at the start of voting nearly threatened to derail the process.

A decision to call the missing commissioners to ask them to rejoin the meeting led one member to ask whether the vote was legal.

“We have a lot of people listening to our meetings and I just want to make sure what we just did by calling people and asking them to rejoin the meeting – no matter the vote, this is not about the outcome – is that allowed in meeting protocol?” asked Commissioner Ann Bullock, dean of the School of Education at Elon University.

State board Attorney Allison Schaffer responded that it wouldn’t be fair to not allow Commissioner Sam Houston to vote due to technical difficulties. Houston is president and CEO of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center. Schaffer didn’t address the legality of the commission’s move to ask colleagues to rejoin the meeting to vote.

The “Blueprint for Action” is essentially a summary of the commission’s work that sets the stage for the state board and General Assembly to take the actions needed to move the process along, including making changes to state law.

“These are structural statements, it is not meant to represent the level of detail that’s been part of our discussions in subcommittees and in PEPSC in September and October,” PEPSC Chairman Van Dempsey explained.  “It’s an effort to capture the structural components of what we’re doing.”

As Schafer explained recently, many of the current rules related to teacher licensing are inconsistent with the recommendations that PEPSC is likely to make.

“We can only adopt rules that are allowed to us in statute, so we need the change the statute first,” Schafer said. “So, the next step in developing a new licensure system would be for PEPSC to recommend and the state board to approve a request for changes to allow it to develop such a system or plan.”

Dempsey said the commission would continue to work to develop the elements of the new teacher licensure and pay model.

Catherine Truitt

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt warned that lawmakers could take over the process if the commission doesn’t share its recommendations soon.

“I think the last thing that any of us want is for the General Assembly to move ahead without us, and that is why time is of the essence,” Truitt said.

As Policy Watch reported previously, the proposed licensure and pay model to be considered would create a system of entry-level certifications to bring more people into the profession. One certification would serve essentially as a learner’s permit. It would allow aspiring educators with associate’s degrees to teach for two years while they earn a bachelor’s degree. Teachers working under that license would receive a base salary of $30,000.

Veteran teachers in leadership roles could earn an advanced teacher license. A National Board Certified Teacher working under that license with a master’s degree and more than 25 years of experience could earn more than $80,000 a year.

North Carolina’s teachers are currently paid based on years of experience. Veteran teachers would be held harmless if they lost pay under the proposal.

Tamika Walker Kelly

The N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) said called the “Blue for Action” harmful to the teaching profession.

“We believe North Carolina needs a teacher licensure program that respects teachers’ expertise, rewards their time in the profession, offers support throughout their career, and recruits and retains educators of color in a way that reflects the demographics of our public-school student population,” NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly said in a statement. “The ‘Blueprint for Action’ created by PEPSC falls far short of this goal, demonstrated by the committee’s narrow vote to even move their plan forward. ”

Teachers have complained that the proposal is an unwanted move to a system of merit pay that places too much emphasis on students’ standardized test scores. They argue that a better strategy to recruit and retain teachers — a stated goal of the new proposal — is to pay them a fair wage.

Truitt has said the feedback that she’s received about the proposal is mostly grounded in “misinterpretation or misstatements” of fact. She contends the proposal is not a merit pay model.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.