About 9 percent of the state’s teachers left their jobs last year, according to a new report on teacher employment.
The annual teacher turnover report from the state Department of Public Instruction examines the reasons teachers leave their classrooms. A draft of the report was released this week.
Teacher turnover is a hot political topic in the race for governor because Democrats claim teachers are leaving because of low pay and lack of respect. Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democrat running for governor, had a television ad featuring a teacher packing to leave the state.
Republicans claim that the talk of unhappy teachers leaving is overblown. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest complained last year about reporters inflating the turnover numbers.
Some districts have a much harder time holding on to teachers than most.
More than a third of the teachers in the Halifax County school district either left state employment or moved to another district last year, giving it the highest attrition rate of all 115 districts.
Northampton County schools weren’t far behind. A little less than a third of its teachers either stopped working for the state or moved to another district, according to the draft report.
“There are a number of districts that by any measure are suffering in terms of their ability to recruit and retain teachers,” said Tom Tomberlin, DPI’s director of educator human capital policy and research. Addressing the problem “is the responsibility of the whole state,” he said.
Last year’s report said 14.8 percent of teachers left their positions, the highest rate in five years.
The recent report warns against comparing it to previous years. New methods mean the results cannot be compared “in any meaningful way,” the report says.
DPI has stopped using the term “turnover” and instead has calculates “attrition” and “mobility.” The State Board of Education is set to discuss the report next week.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign said the report is evidence that there’s no mass exodus.
“This report confirms that Roy Cooper and the liberal left has been lying to teachers about the governor’s record because more teachers are actually moving to North Carolina to teach than are leaving to teach in other states, and teacher retention is improving because of the governor’s aggressive efforts to raise teacher pay,” Ricky Diaz, McCrory’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
Cooper’s campaign pointed to turnover reports issued during McCrory’s term, which show more than 3,000 teachers have left to teach in other states.
“Gov. McCrory has shortchanged our educators, and under the current governor we’ve seen more than 3,000 teachers leave North Carolina for better pay and more respect — an unprecedented number in a four year period,” Cooper campaign spokesman Jamal Little said in a statement. “Our students deserve better. As governor, Roy Cooper will work to give our educators the respect they deserve and bring teacher pay to the national average.”
About 8,000 teachers left state classrooms between March 2015 and March 2016. Nearly 40 percent retired or left because their families were moving.
A little more than 825 of the state’s 95,549 teachers resigned to teach in another state, 853 made a career change, and 138 left because they were dissatisfied with teaching.