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In post-Teaching Fellows N.C., Wake County training its own future teachers

education-early-childhoodToday’s News & Observer offered an interesting report from T. Keung Hui on a fledgling Wake County initiative that provides training and contracts to college students planning on entering the teaching profession.

In a post-Teaching Fellows North Carolina, some education advocates say this type of locally-geared effort is what’s left for addressing crippling teacher shortages.

Policy Watch has reported extensively since 2011 on the state legislature’s dismantling of the former Teaching Fellows Program, which offered four-year college scholarships to prospective educators who agreed to teach in a North Carolina classroom for at least four years.

The program’s final class graduated last year, and despite calls to restore Teaching Fellows in the midst of a massive plunge in UNC system students seeking teaching degrees, the program goes unfunded again in the state House budget approved this week.

In the meantime, as the N&O reports, counties like Wake are attempting to take matters into their own hands. The new, week-long training program launched with 21 college students who agreed to become teachers in Wake County, the state’s largest public school system, when they graduate in 2019.

From the N&O:

Wake agrees to pay the students to attend a week of summer training each of the four years they’re in college. The students will get $3,000 in stipends over the four years. Upon graduation, the students are offered three-year teaching contracts.

Twenty-four high school seniors graduating this year – who will become the second group in the program – were expected to sign their contracts Thursday.

Sherri Morris, a senior administrator in Wake’s human resources department, said it’s important that these students already have local ties and are invested in the community.

“They’ve got brothers or sisters or cousins or friends,” Morris said. “This is a way for them to give back and shape the future of those students.”

Meanwhile, another pivotal factor in the state’s discussion of the teacher shortage—teacher pay—continues to be a political football as lawmakers wrangle over their final budget details.

A pay plan approved by the House (beginning on page 31 of the budget bill here) includes modest increases for mid- and late-career teachers, as well as bonuses for beginning teachers. The average teacher raise in the House plan comes in at about 4 percent.

However, the state Senate has been consistently more hard-line when it comes to K-12 funding, so education activists are expecting major changes in the spending plan when it emerges from the Senate in the coming weeks.

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