A post today at the website Higher Education Works neatly cuts through the b.s. today on the issue of what North Carolina must do to address the shortage of quality schoolteachers – now and in the future:

Commentary: Teacher shortage? Pay them.

North Carolina faces a looming crisis – a shortage of teachers. But putting and keeping great teachers in the classroom isn’t rocket science.

Pay them.

Gov. Pat McCrory likes to point out that North Carolina is now the 9th most-populous state in the nation. The governor also talks about responding to the marketplace. Markets are about supply and demand.  And as our population grows, the demand for education is not subsiding in North Carolina. Far from it.

Yet the market indicates that not enough public university students – or their parents – think education pays enough to justify a career in teaching. As North Carolina approaches 10 million people, enrollment in the state’s public schools of education is down 27% over five years. Enrollment declined 12% from 2013 to 2014 alone.

Ellen McIntyre, dean of the School of Education at UNC Charlotte, told the UNC Board of Governors recently that the crisis over teacher pay that ranks near the bottom in the nation has given would-be enrollees “a little bit of a pause.”

While a starting salary of $33,000 might sound acceptable to an 18-year-old, McIntyre said, “It’s their parents who don’t want them to go (into teaching). It’s their parents who are dissuading them from going into schools of education.”

Raises state legislators approved for teachers last year were tilted toward the bottom end of the pay scale. To his credit, McCrory supports raising starting teacher pay to $35,000. The governor also supports pay supplements for teachers with advanced degrees or who teach in high-demand fields or impoverished school districts.

“That’s adapting to the marketplace,” he said. “Sometimes the marketplace requires you to pay more to certain teachers if they’re willing to teach in areas where others don’t want to teach.”

Over the past year, a subcommittee of the UNC Board of Governors – which oversees the 17-campus university system – developed seven recommendations to improve teacher preparation in UNC system schools. They include: Read More


National education experts and leading policymakers will be in Raleigh next week for the 29th annual Emerging Issues Forum.

The two-day conference, focusing on how teacher quality impacts educational outcomes and economic competitiveness, comes at a time that teacher satisfaction is near an all time low in the Tar Heel state. North Carolina currently ranks 46th in the nation in teacher pay.

Anita Brown-Graham, director of the the Institute for Emerging Issues, says this year’s forum provides a chance to discuss how North Carolina can design and fund a competitive compensation system that attracts and retains world-class talent in the teaching profession.

Speakers this year include former NC Governor Jim Hunt and the following national leaders:

  • Diane Ravitch, Research Professor, New York University and author of Reign of Error
  • William Haslam, Governor, State of Tennessee
  • Dan Pink, New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author
  • Rick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Pasi Sahlberg, Director General, Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland

Governor Pat McCrory is expected to address the issue of teacher pay when he speaks on Monday.

For those interested in hearing from the speakers on February 10th and 11th, the sessions will be available as a free live video-stream.

Brown-Graham joins us this weekend on N.C. Policy Watch’s weekend radio show, News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon, with a preview.

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