Editorial: Taking little baby steps

April 25, 2014 

Much has been made of teacher pay issues in recent months with some proposals drawing the ire of teachers and legislators striking back with demands for more flexibility. It seems there’s room to meet in the middle.

The debate over equitable pay raises for teachers has now reached the local level. The Wake school board has asked for additional money from the county to provide more pay for teachers, in a move at least one county commissioner says caught them blindsided.

While that may be true, it’s important here not to turn the debate over teacher pay into a tiff over who said what and when.

If political leaders are interested (and maybe they aren’t) in raising teacher pay after several years with meager pay raises or none at all, there is an opportunity to make some headway.

Teachers may not see their paychecks increase as much as they would like. And state and local government budgetminders might have to write slightly larger checks than they are currently proposing.

But it’s clear that teachers are an important part of the public sector. And decision-makers need to realize that and work to find a middle ground that begins to address that reality. Teachers must accept the fact that legislators can’t break the bank to meet all their needs in one fell swoop.

But a steady commitment and an effort to minimize the politics surrounding teacher pay would give both sides a chance to show their commitment to the real task at hand here, which is producing graduates with skills that can help them succeed in the workplace or in higher education.

If neither side is willing to give an inch it’ll be hard to ever take the miles-long steps that need to happen with time.

That’s a lesson little babies learn before they are even out of diapers. We’re not so sure why the grown ups in elected positions can’t recall that lesson and put it to use.

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