Raleigh, North Carolina — Student and teacher well-being were a major topic Tuesday morning at North Carolina’s annual Eggs and Matters Breakfast public school forum.
The topic has fueled conversations about priorities driven by forums and many educators and advocates across the state next year, including during the new legislative session.
Speaking at a breakfast at North Carolina State University’s McKinmon Conference and Training Center, Lauren Fox, senior director of policy and research at the Forum, said: “But we won’t improve recruitment and retention or address teacher vacancies without significantly improving salaries.”
She said the minimum living wage in North Carolina is over $48,000, but the starting salary is below that.
Many of the educators who spoke acknowledged the differences between the solutions they provided and those the North Carolina legislature may offer this spring. Only a handful of education bills have been introduced in the week since lawmakers began submitting their submissions.
- “Fair and competitive” salaries and benefits for educators, including a 24.5% raise to bring salaries in line with other fields requiring a bachelor’s degree
- Address mental health and school safety crises by having more counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers in schools
- Expand and diversify new teacher pipeline and keep teachers here
- “Prepare students for the world they live in.” This includes teaching students soft skills such as communication and empathy, and ensuring curricula cover histories, perspectives and content from diverse backgrounds. includes.
- Execute remediation plan in Leandro litigation
raise teacher salaries
Dozens of educators (many of whom are no longer teachers) raised their hands when asked if they had a side job or multiple side jobs while teaching.
Nadja Young coached, worked at a pet store, and worked at a summer camp. She recalled that while still a teacher in the mid-2000s, she took a $6,000 pay cut when she moved from Colorado to North Carolina.
Eugenia Floyd, a former state teacher of the year and now a teacher at the Chapel Hill and Carborough schools, said she doesn’t feel financially comfortable as a teacher.
“As a student at Chapel Hill Carrboro City School, I lived in poverty,” Floyd said. “Education was supposed to be the gateway out of poverty. It’s a devastating event, and it’s a reality not just for me, but for many, if not statewide, educators.”
Salaries have increased since then, but are still too low, Young said. Mississippi raised his starting salary to $41,000, well above North Carolina’s official starting salary of $37,000.
Young no longer teaches. She is currently Director of Educational Practice at SAS Institute.
“I encourage as a legislative body and the business community to keep moving and keep pushing,” Young said.
New Hanover Republican Senator Michael Lee, co-chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the state is now offering a $175 million supplement to the base salary, which varies by district. Wealthy counties are how larger counties have been able to supplement their salaries.
To recruit more teachers, Lee would like to increase the “Residency Program”, a more intensive teacher training and support program for new teachers.
Union County School Superintendent Andrew Houlihan said leaders need to market the teaching profession to middle school students. He also needs to find ways to get more students into teaching without taking on a lot of student loan debt. This could include working with community he colleges and expanding programs that offer scholarships and tuition reimbursements to prospective teachers. Union County Schools plans to do some of that soon, he said.
Young people today fear college debt and value being able to bring about change quickly.
“This generation wants an immediate return on their investment,” says Houlihan.
Union County Schools, once relatively immune to the ongoing teacher shortage, has struggled to recruit teachers in the past few years, Houlihan said. Many schools are using federal pandemic relief dollars to provide retention and signing bonuses.
“That money will be gone in a year and a half,” said Houlihan. “I don’t know if there are any districts in the state that have stability plans to continue these funds…()to continue the currently impacting strategies.”
make schools safer
Leah Carper, currently the state’s teacher of the year and high school English teacher at Guildford County Schools, said she thinks about student safety every day.
“When you hear a balloon popping in the hall, you don’t think, ‘Oh, it’s someone’s birthday!’ rice field. “That’s where we are now.”
Catty Moore, superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, said the state now requires each school system and charter school to develop its own plan to address and improve the mental health and safety of its students. I said yes.
Moore said it was an important step, but not enough.
The school needs resources to carry out the plans it deems necessary, she said.
“Let’s resource what we expect,” said Moore.
According to Carper, teachers are overwhelmed with ever-increasing responsibilities and never deprived.
“We’re at the buffet and we’re not hungry anymore,” Carper said. Teachers care about them, she said, and she may feel burdened.
“We’re thinking, ‘I don’t know if we can do it anymore,'” Carper said.