Legislators paid homage to their favorite teachers Tuesday at a North Carolina Association of Educators news conference calling for a rejuvenation of the profession.
Enrollment in UNC teacher preparation programs is down 30 percent since 2010. Average teacher salaries have clocked 42nd and below in national rankings for years. Rural and urban districts are looking to Teach for America corp members working on two-year commitments to fill employment rosters.
NCAE offered a long prescription for improvement, including teacher salary increases to at least the national average, restoring textbook, technology and instructional resource funding to pre-recession levels, funding professional development, and eliminating or modifying the A-F grading system for schools.
“Teachers are the cornerstone of every other profession in this state,” said Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, calling for a restoration of respect for teachers. “They are an integral part of every child’s life, and should be recognized as such.”
Rep. Graig Meyer, a Hillsborough Democrat, said a student in his UNC School of Education class said that when she went to visit her old schools, her former teachers told her not to follow them into the profession.
“How did we get to a place where our own teachers feel so battered that they are discouraging young students from moving forward into the profession?”
Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget include an average 5 percent raise for teachers that would bring average pay to about $50,000 a year.
NCAE President Rodney Ellis called the plan a “lofty ideal,” but said proposals that “may or may not actually become true” are expected in an election year.