UNC System reports declining enrollment in teacher programs

Posted February 3, 2016
Updated February 4, 2016

— Student enrollment in teacher education programs in the UNC System has declined 30 percent since 2010, a UNC System official told State Board of Education members at their meeting Wednesday.

From fall 2014 to 2015, the enrollment declined 3.4 percent. That includes students in undergraduate and graduate teacher education programs.

The declines have slowed down, “but we still have reason to be concerned,” said Alisa Chapman, vice president for Academic and University Programs at UNC General Administration.

Fifteen UNC System schools have teacher prep programs with a range of degree and licensure options. North Carolina has a shortage in high-need licensure areas, including math, science and middle grades.

“We need to increase our enrollments … to help with supply and demand,” Chapman said.

The UNC System has launched a new recruitment website, The system is looking to recruit more teachers from six segments of the population – high school juniors and seniors, mid-career professionals, community college students, undecided majors at UNC System schools, high school counselors and military personnel and their spouses.

School board member Wayne McDevitt said the state has to create the demand to get more teachers.

“We need to create a comprehensive package,” he said, including better salaries, more respect for teachers and professional development opportunities. “The return on investment will be great.”

North Carolina ranks 47th in the country for average salaries for public school teachers, according to the most recent estimate by the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union. A first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree and no special certifications makes $35,000 a year, while 20-year veterans get $46,500, state records show.

State Superintendent June Atkinson has asked lawmakers for raises for all teachers and $10,000 bonuses for experienced educators who coach fellow teachers or work to turn around low-performing classrooms.


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  • Bill Gibson Feb 3, 2016
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    It was the Republican Legislature, led by Thom Tillis that put the screws to funding teachers. I wondered how any teacher could have voted Tillis to the US Senate after that. I recall some blog entry that actually called the teachers who were upset regarding their pay as being, "whiners." It was one of those times that I actually went "blank white" with anger. I'm not a teacher, but I've had plenty of friends & relatives that were teachers.

  • Sally Bethune Feb 3, 2016
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    Why would any young person going to college in North Carolina want to go to college to teach in NC? How could one pay back their college loans on 35K a year? They can barley live alone on that and cannot live on that livings in the more populated areas of the State. And if the State does not allow spouses to get health insurance from their NC state employee's health insurance plan which was discussed yesterday, my guess is the enrollment will be lower. The legislative branch is making it very difficult for anyone to want to be employed by the State. What are you folks in Raleigh doing ALL the time you are in session????? This election year, it is critical to check to see your representative's record on voting for education and State employee benefits! We do not need a brain drain in our State!