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UNC system official explains N.C.’s prodigious drop in those seeking teaching degrees

school-busespng-91b35e2c325e0b5bMembers of the N.C. State Board of Education received some more troubling news about teachers Wednesday.

Alisa Chapman, vice president for academic and university programs in the UNC system, presented data that show the state’s increasing inability to attract students to the teaching profession.

Since 2010, enrollment in bachelor’s and master’s education programs systemwide has plummeted 30 percent, said Chapman. And while the plunge has slowed—enrollment declined just 3.4 percent from fall 2014 to fall 2015, Chapman told state education leaders that the trend should be “very concerning.”

“The challenge in hiring teachers in our state is going to increase,” said Chapman, adding that it would be “even more challenging” to recruit educators in rural counties, many of which serve a low-income population that tends to struggle academically.

In a state that ranks 42nd in teacher pay nationally, teacher satisfaction and recruitment figures to have a big year in 2016.

Chapman said the UNC system has responded to the dearth of students by assembling education enrollment plans and campus recruiting plans, as well conducting market research and launching a teacher recruitment website, Teach Now for N.C.

Still, state board members Wednesday said North Carolina needs action sooner rather than later.

“Obviously, it’s very disturbing,” said board member Patricia Willoughby, who pointed out that student enrollment in North Carolina has only grown since 2010.

“We have to have the conversation in our state that creates the long line to get into our schools of education,” added board member Wayne McDevitt. “It ought to be as competitive as getting into law school.”

McDevitt said a host of factors likely play into the teacher recruiting struggles.

“It’s associated with salaries, it’s associated with respect, it’s associated with professional development,” he said. “We’ve all got to put our shoulders together and come up with a comprehensive package. The return on that investment will be great.”

8 Comments


  1. Elliott

    February 3, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Remember that after year 25 teachers never get another increase in pay. With fewer entering the profession, little incentive to stay in the profession beyond the minimum to draw retirement, and little incentive for young teachers to stick around for the long haul, where are they going to find the warm bodies to fill the positions? This has the makings for a dumpster fire mess.

  2. Matthew Clark

    February 3, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    The lowest paid full-time and part-time public educators in North Carolina are actually in the UNC and NC Community College systems.

  3. Jim Zooter

    February 3, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Give me a break. In a state where the legislature’s goal is to undermine public education and where teaching positions pay so little a teacher can’t afford rent, who would be crazy enough to take up education as a career? A monastic monk who has taken a vow of poverty, perhaps? A have a friend on the verge of retirement. He’s qualified to teach math and biological and physical sciences and was briefly thinking about doing it after he retires. Then he looked at the pay and lost interest.

  4. Lisa Grable

    February 4, 2016 at 7:29 am

    No mention of the Teaching Fellows program? We need to look at what they are doing in DC. I don’t see what the Board or UNC general administration can do while we have I this legislature.

  5. NCBorn

    February 4, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Second the point about the Teaching Fellows program. That was one of the first things the Republican legislature got rid even — even though it was successful in recruiting high quality college students into teaching and was a national model. Can’t have that!

  6. David Gabbard

    February 4, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Schools are a mess because they got blamed for things that teachers have no control over. Teachers didn’t cause the outsourcing of jobs. Lower wages and the lack of environmental laws and labor laws in countries subjugated by US business interests created “opportunities” for outsourcing. Reform of schools was intended to do one thing – control the work of teachers. Keep them so busy doing meaningless crap and teaching to the test tied to texts that woefully misrepresent realty to kids that they don’t get any funny ideas about teaching kids how to think critically. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And the election of the oligarchy’s candidates of choice by a dumbed down electorate is proof of it. Of course, they had a lot of help in dumbing down the population from the media that is owned by the same oligarchy.

  7. Johnny F Thompson

    February 4, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    The legislature eliminated the NC Teaching Fellows Program which attracted interested students to the profession. Then they did not give raises or longevity pay to experienced teachers. We rank near the bottom (42) in teacher pay, and they add all sorts of extra duties. Who in their right mind would want to teach in NC?

  8. Joanna

    February 6, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    And now the talk of the state not offering 80/20 insurance plans in the future and not allowing spouses on insurance. It has been tabled for now, but it could get far worse yet.

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