Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed May 3-7 as Teacher Appreciation Week and May 4 as Teacher Appreciation Day, to honor and support North Carolina’s educators and recognize their significant impact on our children and the future of our state.

“North Carolina’s educators work tirelessly to teach and support our children, including through a pandemic, and they deserve our gratitude, admiration and respect,” Cooper said. “Educators also deserve to be paid like the professionals they are. North Carolina must do better in teacher pay.”

According to an April 2021 report by the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 33rd in the nation for teacher pay, down from 31st in the 2018-19 school year and well below the national average.

Cooper has long sought better pay for North Carolina’s public school teachers, including meaningful raises for teachers in each of his annual budget proposals.

The governor has proposed a budget this year that includes a 10 percent raise for K-12 teachers over the next two years. Additionally, Cooper proposed that public school teachers receive bonuses totaling $3,000 this year and an additional $1,000 bonus in October 2022. State legislators have yet to act on Cooper’s most recent teacher pay proposals.

During budget negotiations in 2019, General Assembly leadership and the governor could not reach an agreement on teacher raises, and as a result, teachers did not receive a raise in the last budget cycle.

Cooper has vowed to work with legislators to get this year’s budget passed and is committed to ensuring better pay for teachers.

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