Bureaucracy in the education system, he said, impedes people with experience in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — fields from becoming educators by taking too long to get certified to teach.
“Why put them through it if they have shown the skills to do it?” he said. “We’ve got to be more flexible.”
McCrory also said he supports a pay scale that rewards the successful teachers — the ones whom others learn from.
“We need to reward the leadership teachers,” he said. “We think there should be different pay scales to reward the best of the best.”
UNC-system President Tom Ross, who spoke after McCrory, said he’s bullish on a proposed support program for new teachers, which will help curb teacher turnover.
“It will cost less to invest than to not invest,” he said.
Some 14 percent of North Carolina teachers left the profession from 2013-2014, according to N.C. public school data.
The governor’s speech echoed some of the recommendations made earlier that day by the Board of Governors’ subcommittee on teacher and school leader quality.
The group suggested the development of a dashboard to monitor teacher preparation programs, the creation of a public-private partnership merit scholarship and increasing pay for teachers with advanced degrees in high-need areas like STEM, middle grades and special education.
The scholarship would encourage prospective teachers to pursue high-need subjects and work in underperforming school districts. A previous scholarship, N.C. Teaching Fellows — which supported students’ college education in exchange for a commitment to teach four years in state public schools — started to be phased out in 2011 and will graduate its final class in May.
Joni Worthington, spokeswoman for the UNC system, said enrollment in UNC education programs has dropped 12 percent in a year and 27 percent over the past five years.
“There are high school students who want to teach, but parents will discourage them because of the relatively low pay and the challenges of the profession,” she said.
Worthington said improving the quality of education in the state will require a systematic effort that includes K-12 schools, community colleges and universities.
“There is no magic bullet,” she said.