The North Carolina House released a first draft of its budget proposal on Monday evening, 285 pages of numbers and plans and initiatives.

And like in recent years, it’s chock-full of new ideas for improving education across the state. That’s how the General Assembly has tended to operate: Republican lawmakers like to put a little money toward new ideas, evaluate them, and decide whether to double down.

Longleaf Politics dug through the House budget to identify some of the best new proposals for education. Keep in mind that this budget is only a draft, and will certainly be changed before anything is finalized.

We’ll be following the progress of all three of these programs.

1) Career ladders for teachers

What it’s called: “Teacher compensation models and advanced teaching roles”

What it does: In short, this proposal will allow North Carolina school districts to design programs to give teachers higher salaries that take on added responsibilities or leadership roles. Essentially, it creates a career ladder that teachers can use to increase their pay while staying in the classroom.

The proposal addresses one of the biggest downsides of the current teacher pay scale. Today, North Carolina only compensates teachers based on longevity, rather than how effective they are. Merit pay has been a goal for years, but this plan puts a twist on it by allowing school districts to experiment with what works best for them.

Teachers would be eligible for additional pay — up to 30% of the state salary schedule — if they spend at least 70% of their time in the classroom and do one of the following:

  • Teaching a larger number of students and being held accountable for their progress
  • Becoming a “lead teacher” overseeing a group of other teachers
  • Leading a new school-wide initiative around digital or data-driven education
  • Helping train and develop other teachers within a school

2) Required personal finance course for high schoolers

What it’s called: “Economics and Personal Finance course required”

What it does: This proposal creates a new course required to graduate from North Carolina public high schools that’s centered around personal finance. Numerous studies have shown that young adults are entering the workforce without sufficient knowledge of how to manage their money.

This course will cover the following, at minimum:

  • The true cost of credit and debt
  • Managing a credit card.
  • Borrowing money for a car
  • Home mortgages
  • Credit scoring and credit reports
  • Planning and paying for college

3) Bringing top students to community colleges

What it’s called: “High Achieving Tuition Scholarship Program”

What it does: Community college is an incredible deal and for the first two years of a college education, can do just about anything a four-year school can. However, there’s still the expectation that top-performing high school students will enroll in a four-year university. Higher education costs are spiraling out of control, and this program helps to address that by giving an incentive for high-achieving students to spend two years at community college.

This program essentially gives high school students a full-ride scholarship for two years of community college, a total of 64 credit hours toward a degree. Interestingly, high school students will be able to apply to a four-year university and defer entry for the two years of the program.


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