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North Carolina Plan Would Institute Pay-for-Tenure Swap

A budget plan unveiled by North Carolina lawmakers would offer teachers an average pay raise of 11 percent, in exchange for voluntarily giving up tenure, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The plan, released by Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, would put some $468 million in teacher salaries, the paper reports, for those teachers who agree to relinquish tenure in favor of shorter-term contracts. Teachers who choose not to move to the new system would not receive the raises.

The plan, in general, mirrors the one that Berger helped put into place in 2013, which was recently declared unconstitutional by a state court judge. The main change: It would make giving up tenure voluntary, rather than phasing it out for all by 2018, as under the now-suspended law. As such, the new plan seems like a strategy to keep the concepts enshrined in the earlier law in place, but in a way that will pass legal muster.

The new plan maintains a quota element that many administrators and teachers protested as unnecessarily divisive. Beginning in 2014-15, school boards would have to offer four-year contracts to a quarter of their teachers. After that, they could give bonuses for top performers for up to 35 percent of teachers.

The new salary scale would also include higher pay steps for some teachers than under the current statewide salary schedule, the Charlotte Observer reports. But for veteran teachers, pay would largely stagnate at $50,000 after their 20th year in the classroom.

The plan would, however, restore a 10 percent pay premium for teachers who earn an advanced degree.

The District of Columbia considered a two-tiered pay plan in which teachers who gave up tenure could qualify for substantial bonuses back in 2009. But that idea was nixed after the local teachers' union and its parent, the American Federation of Teachers, opposed it.

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