Fewer people want to be teachers; NC education leaders look for solutions

Posted January 29, 2015

— Fewer North Carolina students are enrolling in teaching programs, a problem education leaders say they are trying to tackle by strengthening recruitment, improving teacher preparation and supporting pay increases.

The number of undergraduate and graduate students declaring education majors dropped by 12 percent between 2013 and 2014. It’s a statistic education officials repeated and mulled over during Tuesday’s UNC Board of Governors Education Summit held by the SAS Institute.

“We have a crisis,” said UNC Board of Governors Chairman John C. Fennebresque, noting that there aren’t enough students to meet the increasing demands.

Among several recommendations, members of the BOG said that more should be done to improve teacher preparation and recruitment efforts for potential teachers.

They suggested the state should start a public-private teacher scholarship that would target students who want to teach in high-need areas, like science, math and special education.

“We need to be actively marketing and recruiting them for the field of education,” said Laura Wiley, a member of the UNC Board of Governors.

Governor Pat McCrory made an appearance at the summit. He also suggested that the state should make it easier for some professionals outside of education to become teachers through lateral entry. 

“We need job-ready degrees faster and at less cost,” he said. “Teaching is not an exception to this rule.”

McCrory said teachers with advanced degrees in high-need schools and fields should be paid more. He also restated his commitment to raise teacher's minimum pay to $35,000 this year.  

BOG members said they would also like to launch an online dashboard that would track and measure how teachers are doing across the state. They also talked about strengthening collaboration between colleges of education and K-12 schools.

Ellen McIntyre, Dean of the College of Education at UNC-Charlotte, said the recommendations could help address the challenge of keeping teachers in the classrooms.

“We prepare teachers, but we don’t keep them,” she said. “We can keep teachers in wealthy districts, but we don’t keep them in high-poverty schools.” 

This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of their education coverage.

Reema Khrais is the 2014 Fletcher Fellow focused on Education Policy Reporting. The Fletcher Fellowship is a partnership between WUNC and UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication funded in part by the Fletcher Foundation.


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  • sisu Feb 2, 2015

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    Yes, this! Teachers spend so much time and energy proving they deserve to have a job that it makes it hard to actually do a decent job.

    Also, the benefits are not all that. People have a skewed idea of that. Highest co-pays etc.. A teacher pays a $80+ copay for urgent care and $291 just to show up at the ER.

    They can't do anything for kids with major discipline problems. The kids know it, too.

  • crod397 Jan 30, 2015

    My wife and I teach, both have been teaching for 5 years now. We just had our first baby and would like to have 1 more, who wants to grow up alone? Since we are both getting paid first year pay, it's not financially possible to do so. It really does suck to know that we both are working "professional" careers and can't afford to have but one child. That's with me teaching, coaching basketball, cross country, and teaching drivers education.

    To always feel defeated is a terrible thing

  • dmytro32 Jan 30, 2015

    As a 20 year veteran teacher, let me assure you I got no raise- in fact lost money because the GA took away my longevity pay. I love what I do, and knew I'd never get rich, but didn't think I'd have 2 jobs at 50 years old...or be disrespected by peers with the same amount of education as I have (Masters Degree). Would love the members of the GA to spend a week in my classroom and THEN disregard my skill set and freeze my salary-won't happen.

  • juliomercado Jan 30, 2015

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    After a third look and when not so tired I get the gist of the post. It IS true the NC state income tax rated went down for everyone. I don't know where this poster came up with $200, but taxes did increase. The original poster could still be accurately describing the situation if the small pay raise pushed them into a higher federal tax Bracket. Yes, the Obama administration did raise payroll taxes by 2% but the timing doesn't work out. It was already on the books. For most people I know the state tax 'break' as it were, amounts to a little over $100 a year. I for one, am not so sure that a $10 a month raise is worthy of much praise after 6 years of staggering wages.

  • raleighindependent Jan 30, 2015

    Shocking, who could have saw this coming?

  • juliomercado Jan 29, 2015

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    Could someone please translate this for me? I can't for the life of me follow what this intellectual giant is attempting to say.

  • juliomercado Jan 29, 2015

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    Your post made me giggle. Not accustomed to that much truth in so few words.

  • John Banks Jan 29, 2015
    user avatar

    Solution: Pay the teachers a fair salary..... Isn't that why we have a lottery???? Oh wait.... The lottery was intended to pay the Lottery officials a majority of the proceeds. I forgot that they deserve the money more than our teachers do. Cause those poor poor RICH people NEED their money. Why do teachers need money??? It isn't like they need to pay their bills or feed their families.

  • Doug Pawlak Jan 29, 2015
    user avatar

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    Not really though it plays a role. Teachers will tell you, the number one issue right now is low pay/ terrible benefits.

  • thewayitis Jan 29, 2015

    Nobody wants to teach because so many students are disrespectful & rude. Until the schools can get the discipline issues under control, they will continue having a difficult time attracting teachers. The teaching environment is way more important than the salary for most people.