Yesterday I wrote about teachers leaving North Carolina. Even if you’re not from here, the factors affecting North Carolina probably affect your state as well. Of course, this might have no significance, and you might want to skip this altogether.
Almost 15% of teachers in North Carolina in 2013 – 2014 left their position by the following school year.
John Hood of the John Lock Foundation and Carolina Journal says the figure is misstated. He points out that North Carolina is a net importer of teachers, since we hire people from other states to replace the people who leave the North Carolina public school classroom.
This ignores two basic facts: Our teaching preparation programs in North Carolina can’t met the demand for qualified teachers, so we will probably always be a net importer of teachers. Secondly, we are not importing highly experienced teachers as much as we import new teachers. Sixteen years ago, that was me. In New York State there were 400 applicants for every teaching job. My first NC school district interviewed me at an airport in Syracuse, and practically offered me a job on the spot.
When you lose teachers with experience, and gain teachers with none, then quality will suffer. When August rolls around, and school districts are scrambling to fill classrooms, anyone with a license can get a job.
Why are teachers leaving the profession or leaving the North Carolina public school system?
Let’s consider pay.
Teachers draw pay from two sources: State base pay and local supplement. Poorer districts add 4% onto the state pay scale. More affluent districts can afford up to 15% more pay. I know of one district paying experienced teacher 25% above the state scale.
The Republican led General Assembly reconfigured the teacher pay scale last year. Some folks got good raises. Early career teachers especially saw a boost. Something else happened also. Take a look at the pay scale for teachers with a bachelor’s degree. The left hand column is years of teaching. In your first year you have zero years of service:
The beginning teacher salary has never been so good in North Carolina. When you have 5 years of experience, you get a raise. That’s your 6th year of teaching. Then things are steady for 5 more years, until you have 10 years of experience. That’s your 11th year of teaching.
The same story follows all the way down the table. Five years between raises gives a teacher plenty of time to figure out something else to do. It also gives teachers plenty of time to find other places to teach. You can’t see the bottom part of the document, but pay tops off in year 25, and never increases according to this scale.
Wallethub just ranked all 50 states plus the District of Columbia for teaching pay:
Yeah! We beat West Virginia!
One other factor. Those raises are contingent of a future General Assembly (legislature) following through. During the Great Recession, there were no raises. I understand why, but this pay scale has been put on hold, modified and frozen before. Teachers know this.
The Wake County School District (including Raleigh) just approved a plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to approve local pay raises for all school personnel. There plan is to meet the U.S. average.
I’m a teacher. It’s what I do, and what I’ll do until retirement. I don’t complain about my pay at all.
Based upon a lot of factors, I’ve figured that this is better than digging a ditch, and more rewarding. But if North Carolina wants to stem the tide of teachers leaving the state, the pay scale needs to be considered.
Next time: Other factors