Source: The Pulse
A new report during the State Board of Education’s monthly meeting reveals that North Carolina’s teacher vacancies grew almost 50% when compared to the previous year. By the 40th day of school, the report showed an almost 60% jump in teacher vacancies.
“North Carolina’s teacher shortage is the predictable result of the General Assembly’s 12-year crusade against teachers,” wrote Kris Nordstrom, a senior policy analyst in the North Carolina Justice Center’s Education & Law Project, in an editorial piece. “The most obvious sign of this destructive crusade can be seen in teacher salaries. In the 2011 school year, the year before control of the General Assembly changed hands, North Carolina’s average teacher salary fell 16% below the national average. That gap has grown to 19%, according to the most recent estimates.”
In addition to measly pay raises, according to N.C. Policy Watch, teachers leaving the profession have cited the culture war around critical race theory, LGBTQ issues, and book bans that have left them feeling disrespected and underappreciated.
A national survey from last year found that 3 in 10 teachers were considering leaving the profession, and more than a third of the 2,000 K–12 educators surveyed cited the reason as due to new state laws restricting classroom discussions on race, gender, and sexuality.
Advocates, community members, and parents have called for state Republican legislative leaders to prioritize school funding as outlined in the Leandro Plan, and increase teacher pay, over “an orchestrated culture war.”
Regardless of warnings, reports and surveys, state Republicans continue their politically motivated attack on educators and students. The recent rollout of Senate Bill 49 couldn’t make it any clearer, as the bill blatantly targets educators, LGBTQ+ students, and healthcare professionals, makes students vulnerable to forced outing and erases LGBTQ+ voices in school curriculum.
“The harms created by the teacher shortage are particularly tragic today…there’s never been a more important time for all students to be led by great teachers,” wrote Nordstrom. “Yet there’s no indication state leaders will take the steps necessary to solve the problem. After all, the teacher shortage is a problem that General Assembly leadership deliberately created.”