Ads lure NC teachers to Virginia
Posted January 26, 2014
Low morale and no pay increases within the past five years have contributed to an increase in teachers leaving North Carolina schools.
But Virginia wants them.
The Western Virginia Public Education Consortium is advertising an upcoming two-day teacher recruitment fair in community newspapers across North Carolina.
The classified ad announces vacancies in 17 Virginia school districts.
The ads come as Gov. Pat McCrory recently announced increasing teacher pay as part of his 2014 agenda, vowing to push the issue during the upcoming legislative session. Pay raises have already been authorized for employees in high-demand professions such as medicine, accounting, auditing and information technology. About 1,200 nurses and 600 law enforcement employees will receive increases ranging from 4 to 10 percent.
“Teachers in North Carolina had one raise in the last five or six years, and that is unacceptable to me, and unacceptable to the Legislature and unacceptable to the people of North Carolina,” McCrory said.
Education professionals have taken a “wait and see” approach to McCrory’s promise.
“Teachers remain skeptical about how we’re going to get there, when we’re going to get there and what it will look like,” said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators during a recent appearance on WRAL’s On the Record. “We’re anxious to see what the governor has in mind.”
Teacher pay has been a hot issue in recent years and was highlighted during a number of protests last year. Thousands of teachers sporting red shirts traveled from across the state to Raleigh in July for one of the weekly “Moral Monday” protests. Their presence created one of the largest such protests of the year as educators rallied for increased teacher pay among other educational topics.
Melissa Russell-Ausley didn’t attend that rally but the Johnston County high school teacher wore red in support.
“It is alarming and shameful the number of teachers whose children are on free and reduced lunch,” she said.
Russell-Ausley isn’t surprised by the Virginia recruiting effort.
“They’re poaching the best and brightest of our talent, and right now it’s prime picking because they know we’re unhappy,” she said.
State education leaders have cited pay as a reason why teachers are either working in other states or leaving the profession. North Carolina’s teacher turnover rate was 14.33 percent in 2012-13, an increase from 12.13 percent in 2011-12, according to a North Carolina Department of Public Instruction report.
"The statistics that trouble me are the hundreds of educators who left their jobs in 2012-13 to teach in another state or resigned because they were dissatisfied with teaching or wanted a career change,” state Superintendent June Atkinson said in December. “I am concerned that if changes are not made, low pay and a lack of support will push even more educators out of North Carolina classrooms and the teaching profession."
North Carolina teacher salaries ranked 49th in the nation in 2011-12 with an average pay of $45,947, according to the National Education Association. Virginia ranked 31st with an average pay of $50,574.
“I think it’s very strategic and very targeted,” said Mark Jewell, NCAE vice-president, of the ads.
A similar ad lured Jewell to North Carolina nearly 17 years ago.
“Bottom line, teachers do have to pay their bills,” he said.