Opinion

In N.C., a teacher shortage by design

Enrollment in the 15 schools of education in the public university system has dropped – by 30 percent since 2010.
Enrollment in the 15 schools of education in the public university system has dropped – by 30 percent since 2010. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

From an editorial Friday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

One would have thought, when Republican lawmakers raised starting teacher pay in North Carolina to $35,000, that they’d marched into classrooms in North Carolina with sacks of gold and silver. Of course, that salary is hardly a king’s ransom, and teachers with more experience didn’t fare so well. The state remains in the bottom half of the country in teacher compensation.

Teachers also are skeptical of these GOP lawmakers, who have so cheated public education at all levels and undermined conventional public schools with a too-rapid expansion of charter schools and public “scholarships” for children in private schools.

So it should come as no surprise that enrollment in the 15 schools of education in the public university system has dropped – by 30 percent since 2010.

This forecasts a deepening teacher shortage in North Carolina, one that will impact tens of thousands of families.

The shortage will have a severe impact in rural areas and in schools with the challenge of having lots of lower-income students and fewer resources.

Most North Carolina teachers could make more money, but most of them stay in the profession because they do indeed want to make a difference. That dedication is why North Carolina has long gotten by on the cheap, excepting the period when former Gov. Jim Hunt drove teacher salaries in the state to the national average.

Republicans are going to reap what they sowed with their lackluster support of public education. Unfortunately, the rest of us are going to reap it, too.

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