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Public School Forum report shows teacher vacancies across North Carolina

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Students leave East Chapel Hill High School on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.

North Carolina public schools are currently facing major teacher shortages, according to a recent report on teacher vacancies and recruitment trends by the Public School Forum of North Carolina. The report addressed ongoing issues in school systems since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students in districts with higher populations of students of color are disproportionately impacted by teacher shortages, the report said. It also said districts are often hiring less qualified teachers because of a decreasing number of qualified teacher applicants.

Vacancies in every region of North Carolina were higher in 2022-23 than they were pre-pandemic.

Sara Howell, a policy program manager at the Public School Forum and one of the authors of the report, said it was created after people began noticing teaching crises during and after the pandemic.

According to the report, the pandemic led some educators to question whether or not teaching was adding or detracting from their quality of life. Some teachers were steered away from seeking a career in education due to the negative attitudes surrounding teaching and public education, the report stated. 

Howell said, at the beginning of the pandemic, teachers were seen as superheroes.

“They went from superheroes to villains overnight,” she said. “As all these cultural components started to come in and there were fights about masks, and there were fights about what was being taught in schools, it kind of went from ‘teachers are heroes’ to ‘teachers are the villains.'"

Teachers were quitting because they did not want to enter that fight again, Howell said. 

According to Howell, there have been teacher and funding shortages in North Carolina for decades. She said the pandemic highlighted and exacerbated those existing issues. 

The Public School Forum actively works toward advancing equitable educational opportunities, and Howell said this report looks to do right by kids, their families and teachers.

Farea Khan, the principal of Al-Iman School in Raleigh, said as a private school, Al-Iman has many teachers who tend to stay long-term, aiding in the school’s retention rates.

Al-Iman implemented added benefits for the 2023-24 school year to support teacher retention, Khan said.

She said Al-Iman does little things to boost teacher morale, including adding more teacher wellness days.

Al-Iman has been able to implement the Public School Forum’s report’s suggestion of ensuring financial viability and stability for teachers by adding salary increases because it can sometimes be easier to obtain salary approvals as a private school, Khan said.  

Bryan Proffitt, the vice president of the North Carolina Association for Educators, said there is a crisis in public education across the country. He said his understanding of the teacher retention crisis is anecdotal. 

“What it looks like is kids getting to school late because we are not paying bus drivers enough so we can’t fill those positions,” he said. “What it looks like is kids being in classes that are taught by permanent or long-term subs because we don’t have qualified people in the classroom.”

Oznur Hatip, a teacher at Green Level High School in Cary, said while class sizes are getting larger after the pandemic, many educators have left the teaching profession.

She also said she thinks teacher pay is low in North Carolina because of a lack of a teacher unions, and that it is “really challenging each year for the school to find good certified teachers” because of wages. 

"We are getting so many people, they are moving from different states, housing is increasing exponentially, but the school capacities are almost the same," she said

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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