Sure, $36K is not nothing in NC and $55K is paltry earnings in NYC.The contrast is, if you look at the salary schedules and union-negotiated pay increases, teachers in NYC can significantly increase their earning power over time (though not as much as they should be able to!), whereas some teachers with years of experience in NC actually end up making less than when they began due to inflation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/north-carolina-teacher-pay-raise_n_5249142.html). In addition to consistent cost of living increases, we receive significant bumps in salary at career milestones. Plus my union has serious bargaining power and protections. Yes, certification is a lot trickier these days (and new state certification exams have been revised as they have been shown to be biased) and tenure now takes longer to obtain in NYC, but at least the legislature is not trying to eliminate our health care (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/07/north-carolinas-step-by-step-war-on-public-education/).