An editorial in today’s Wilmington Star-News does an excellent job of explaining why the ranks of North Carolina teachers and teachers in training are thinning:
“Apparently, a lot fewer people want to be teachers in North Carolina.
Gee. Wonder why?
Alice Chapman, vice president for academic programs in the University of North Carolina system, told the N.C. Board of Education that enrollment in undergraduate and graduate education programs — essentially, the teacher-track course at the state’s public colleges — has declined by 30 percent since 2010.
The brain drain has slowed a bit, Chapman noted; in 2014-2015, the drop-off was just 3.4 percent. Still, she called the trend ‘very concerning.’
That’s an understatement. With North Carolina hovering around 42nd place out of the 50 states in how much we pay teachers, we’re not likely to draw very many new teachers from somewhere else. The UNC figures mean our homegrown supply of teachers is shrinking, even as school enrollments grow.
Now, before the Great Recession, teacher salaries in North Carolina stood very near the U.S. median. Legislators — in both Democrat and Republican years — chose to put off hard financial decisions by putting off raises. Now we’re seeing the result.
This year, with a $450 million surplus in the bank, our Honorables gave a 2 percent raise — but only to beginning teachers. The rest had to content themselves with the $750 one-time-only bonus other state employees got.
The state Department of Public Instruction reports a teacher turnover rate of 15 percent last year — which means teachers moving on to other jobs. Earlier, the department found that 1,082 North Carolina teachers took jobs in other states last year, roughly triple the number who moved away in 2010.
Of course, money isn’t everything. In the past, though, many teachers chose the security of steady employment and the promise of a pension.
Even that, however, seems to be eroding. Read more