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North Carolina must pay teachers what they deserve

West Virginia teachers got a raise, and which they truly deserve. What about North Carolina? North Carolina must wake up! There is a teacher shortage, and I do not foresee it getting better with current trends. There are many things that need to change in order for effective teachers to want to stay in North Carolina, but higher pay is the right way to begin the shift to teacher retention. We have to pay teachers what they deserve.

Teachers are leaving the profession. Teachers with an average of 1.5 years of experience are the most common in our state. Why? North Carolina ranks 45th in one ranking of the “Best & Worst States for Teachers.” Teachers come, and then teachers go. The number of teachers that leave because they are “dissatisfied with teaching” or are just leaving education all together has nearly doubled since 2010.

We have to do better. Why should teachers be paid more? First of all, teachers matter. Really, they do. Research shows that, compared to other factors in the schooling environment, teachers matter more than anything else. Since this is the case, we have to make sure that we have effective teachers, and this is not possible if we do not treat and pay our teachers better. Effective teachers also remain effective no matter what their environment is. Effective teachers that are placed in an ineffective school still make an impact on student achievement.

Keeping effective teachers in North Carolina is essential. Without teachers, there would be no doctors, lawyers, or any other profession. Teachers are absolutely necessary. Teachers do so much more than just teach They make a difference in students’ lives. Teachers are there to motivate, listen, mentor, and love. Teachers wear so many hats. Teachers matter.

Second, teachers are leaving because their workload is almost unbearable. Besides teaching, they spend countless hours in meetings, making parent phone calls, grading papers, working ball games and dances, preparing lesson plans, decorating their classrooms, coming in early and staying late to prepare for the next day, buying school supplies, and I could go on and on. They do all of this, and even our state superintendent said that $35,000 was good money for a starting teacher.

Over half of teachers are having to take up a second job just to make ends meet. The media paints a pretty picture for improvement in North Carolina, but it is not so pretty after all. Recently, it was announced that North Carolina’s average teacher pay surpassed $50,000. This seems like a wonderful accomplishment, but what happens when all of the older teachers with higher salaries leave? With the current payscale, you have to have 23 years of experience just to make $50,000. With the current attrition rate, the average teacher pay is to surely decline.

I taught in middle school for five years before I decided to pursue my doctoral degree in science education. I truly loved my job, but I just could no longer bear it. I thought of myself as being an effective teacher. To just name a few things, I received teacher of the year at my school and my students also showed growth on their end-of-grade tests each year that I taught. I mattered in the classroom; however, I was overworked and underpaid. I too had to take up a second job to make ends meet.

We truly have to treat our teachers better. Once again, there are many things that need to be done in order to retain effective teachers in North Carolina, but the best start is to invest in effective teachers. North Carolina, wake up.

Kayla Norville

Kayla is currently a Science Education Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University. She received her bachelor’s degree at UNCP Pembroke, as a Teaching Fellow, in Middle Grades Education. She received her Master’s degree at North Carolina State University in Science Education. Before pursuing her Ph.D., she taught middle grades math and science for 5 years in Pitt County. During her time as an educator, she was awarded a Kenan Fellowship, Teacher of the Year for her school, and took part in an Educator of Excellence Institute.