Stokes County teacher Nicholas Brandes shared a picture of his paycheck on social media last week igniting thousands of comments about the compensation North Carolina educators receive.
In the post, which was shared by Governor Roy Cooper’s Facebook page on Monday, Brandes said, “This is my tenth year teaching. I love it. I love the school I work at. I love the kids I teach. I love the teachers that I teach with. I love my principal and assistant principal. I love the county. I don’t hate it when I get up every morning. I don’t hate the drive. I don’t hate my classroom. Overall, I love my job.”
Although he wrote he was hesitant to share his personal information, he posted a picture of his $1,715.81 check.
“I want to add that includes money taken out to pay for my daughter’s insurance and her childcare, lavish expenses I know, but necessities for my wife and my existence.”
As a married, 32-year-old father, he said the money would have to last through May 31.
“I’m not a math wizard, as I am an English teacher, but when you divide that, I want you to know that I am roughly being paid $53 a day to educate your child. If you divide that by eight hours, the amount a great deal of people think I work which in actual reality is nowhere near the amount I work, I will be making $6.69 an hour. In my state, NC, the minimum wage is currently $7.70.”
Brandes went on to write that his air conditioning system needs replacing and his daughter recently broke her arm.
“We call this life. And it happens to everyone. The difference is that I am working a job that most see as a valuable resource of utmost importance, and I cannot pay for anything. My wife is also a teacher and is in the same boat,” he said. “We as educators are hurting. We literally do not make enough. It’s not just me either, it’s all of us.”
Brandes said there are school systems shutting down on May 16 as a show of solidarity amongst teachers.
“To attend, I would have to take a personal day which would reduce my check by an additional $75 dollars, an amount I cannot afford.”
The popular North Stokes teacher, who has coached two sports and been voted on by students to speak at commencement a number of times, knows many will argue he gets the summers off.
“I get two week’s vacation here and a week there. I do. All of that is true. I, however, do not get paid for those days.”
Throughout the post, he reminded people of what educators do and how they are compensated.
“If you can believe that and look at the snapshot of my paycheck and not become infuriated that those of us who offer so much of ourselves for your children are being paid next to nothing, than we have already lost the battle.”
Brandes went on to say, “Make sure you demand for your child what every parent wants for their child. The best. And the best comes when we pay those a wage that isn’t extraordinary, but fair. When we fund our education in a way that allows our students to achieve in a way that no one thought possible. I’m rambling. I’m an English teacher, it’s what I do, just ask my students. They may be able to recount what they learned in class that day to you, or you can probably hear it straight from us when you run into us at our second and third jobs.”
While many were supportive of Brandes’ post, others questioned if the numbers represented were skewed, taking into account deductions, net salary versus gross.
According to the Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina teachers with 10 years experience make around $40,555 per year.
Local business owner, Mike Marshall, who is a vocal advocate for teachers said, “The guarantee that goes along with being a government employee is that you have benefits and can almost rest assured you have a job for life. The downside is that it might not pay as much as private sector jobs.”
King resident Darrell Calloway added, “The math was misleading to serve an agenda. We have to be open and honest. Eighty-five dollars a day equates to 17 dollars an hour with the summer off and state benefits,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there who would love to get that deal.”
Brandes could not be reached for comment.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.