Source: ABC 11
As North Carolina continues to face an ever-growing teacher shortage, Gov. Roy Cooper is taking a step in addressing the issue through his latest pledge.
Last week, Gov. Cooper announced $3 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) will cover licensure exams for future public school teachers.
In partnership with NC Teach and the Department of Public Instruction, the funding, which would cover exam fees that typically cost $450 per person, is an effort to offset the cost for new teachers.
Currently, the state has more than 5,000 teacher vacancies. Additionally, North Carolina ranks 34th nationally in average teacher pay and ranks 46th nationally in beginning teacher pay.
“To show them that we respect them. And we do. But also we need to make sure that that’s reflected in our budgets,” Cooper stated during his announcement.
This is not the first time the governor has taken a chance to address education inequities. In 2021, the governor also directed funds from the GEER fund to help school districts, postsecondary institutions, or other education-related entities address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the GEER funding is tackling one need, the governor called on lawmakers to take further action in prioritizing teacher raises in the upcoming budget.
“We have the money to give our teachers pay raises,” Cooper stated. “It’s not a budgetary issue right now. The money is there, it’s just a question of priorities.”