In case you missed it, the Winston-Salem Journal/Greensboro News & Record twins published another important and on-the-mark editorial this week highlighting the funding shortfall in North Carolina’s K-12 education system that has precipitated a potentially disastrous teacher shortage.
As the editorial observed:
There is a critical shortage of teachers in North Carolina.
This should not come as a revelation. We’ve seen the trend for some time.
During the last school year, more than 1,800 teachers in North Carolina schools were not fully certified, meaning they were emergency fill-ins who were finishing their licensing requirements while on the job.
Schools are feeling the staffing pinch more and more, even those in the state’s wealthier districts.
“We have some of the same challenges that the other 114 districts across the state experience,” Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Nyah Hamlett told WUNC.
For the state’s rural schools, it’s worse.
“We’re gonna potentially find ourselves August 29 with classrooms that are empty; there is no teacher to put there,” Michael Sasscer, superintendent of Edenton-Chowan Schools, said.
As the editorial also notes, there’s no particular mystery as to why this is the case. Between years of lousy pay, the pandemic, and persistent “gratuitous nastiness” from crabby parents and politicians, it’s no surprise that enrollment in schools of education has plummeted at the same time that many veteran teachers are bailing on the profession.
And while there is no magic, overnight solution to this deeply problematic situation, the editorial identifies some obvious places to start. As it notes in conclusion:
If there is any justice, the courts ultimately will rule that the state must remedy the under-funding of schools. The N.C. Supreme Court will soon hear the Leandro case, a 30-year-old lawsuit that rightly contends North Carolina has failed its constitutional mandate to provide a sound, basic education for all of its students. A judge already has ordered the state to fulfill that obligation but the legislature contends, essentially, that when it comes to funding, a judge can’t tell it what to do.
Meanwhile, the rest of should do our part by supporting and appreciating teachers.
As sorely as they deserve better pay and more resources, they also probably wouldn’t mind hearing two simple but powerful words a little more often: Thank you.
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