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The Daily Tar Heel

Teacher turnover on the rise in NC

Teachers might not be here to stay, according to a recent report released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The 2014-15 Annual Report on Leaving the Profession said a total of 14,255 teachers left their positions in local school districts — creating an overall state turnover rate of 14.84 percent.This turnover rate, up from 14.12 percent in 2013-14, has increased in four of the past five years.

Suzanne Gulledge, a professor at the UNC School of Education, said she thinks this could be a disincentive for students to go into education — already a job that requires a certain love of the field.

“If one doesn’t have that personal motivation, it’s too hard of a line of work to go into," she said.

To keep teachers in the state, she said the School of Education will offer a 5-year Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in teaching program next fall.

"It’ll be combined with a pedagogy," Gulledge said. "It’ll have a residency component where one spends a substantial time in public schools in school work.”

Keith Poston, executive director of the N.C. Public School Forum, said while salary and working conditions are drivers, there are other factors.

“Teachers often feel like they don’t have a voice in their career in the decisions made at the state level and the district level in terms of instruction and policies," Poston said.

But Lindalyn Kakadelis, director of Education Outreach for the right-leaning John Locke Foundation, said the numbers do not tell the whole story — some teachers simply took on administrative roles or retired.

“I think we need to compare districts," Kakadelis said. "Is there something that is making these teachers dissatisfied? Charlotte-Mecklenburg had a 5.7% drop in the turnover rate."

Poston said he thinks many are leaving and going to bordering states with higher teacher salaries, like South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. According to the report, 1,028 teachers left their positions to teach in another state.

He said the state also faces a problem recruiting students for teacher education programs.

"We’re almost 30 percent down over the past 5 years,” Poston said.

Kakadelis said there has been a net gain of teachers coming from other states.

"I don’t think we’re seeing a flood of teachers leaving North Carolina," she said.

Jeff Nash, a spokesperson for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said the state officials have known for years its universities are not turning out enough teachers — leaving North Carolina dependent on out-of-state candidates.

“North Carolina used to be considered a progressive education state and a great place for a new teacher to settle," Nash said. "Unfortunately, legislative action — and legislative attitudes toward public schools — in recent years has made North Carolina the object of many jokes nationwide."

Though CHCCS did not have the highest turnover rate, Nash said he is still concerned.

“Our expectation is an excellent teacher in every classroom, but we are very concerned about the coming years and whether we will be able to meet that expectation," he said.

Kakadelis said because of excessive state regulation, if she had a doctorate in chemistry, she would not be permitted to teach in a high school classroom without receiving additional accreditation.

“I think we need to free the hands of teachers instead of making them test so much,” she said. "We don’t have a teacher shortage, we have an HR problem."

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Poston said we must instead empower teachers to enter the field and pay them accordingly.

“We can’t rely on missionaries, and folks that’ll teach no matter what," he said. "We’re not investing adequately in the schools, in the resources for the schools, and in the teachers themselves.”