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.