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Monday March 20th

View from the Hill

In new report, NC ranks as least favorable state for teachers

North Carolina has received the lowest ranking as a state for teachers in the nation, according to a new study by WalletHub. 

“Election season is really heating up, and the hot topic has become education reform,” said Jill Gonzalez, a spokesperson for WalletHub.

The report shed light on some negative aspects of North Carolina’s public education system, including its environment for teachers.

The study considered 18 different aspects of states' public education systems that concerned teachers — including the average annual salaries, teacher safety in the school and the annual state expenditure per student. Using this criteria, North Carolina ranked 51st, behind all other U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

“North Carolina has the fifth lowest annual salary in the nation at just $48,000, so it’s no surprise that the starting salary is also low, just $32,000," Gonzalez said.

The mediocre pay, she said, has resulted in a low retention rate. Studies have found that the low pay in North Carolina is causing teachers to move to other states where they can find higher pay for similar work.

Teacher salaries have not improved much in North Carolina in the last decade, Gonzalez said. The state's teachers received an average 7 percent raise this year, though they'd received one small raise in five years prior to 2014.

"The changes in salaries in the last decade in North Carolina have been dismal, we have seen only a 5 percent increase — while the leading state, Wyoming, has seen almost a 50 percent increase in teacher salary,” Gonzalez said.

She added that the lack of money also leads to other discrepancies in schools.

“The safety of the teachers is a problematic point in North Carolina public schools,” she said. “Almost 10 percent of public school teachers reported incidences of being threatened by one or more students.”

While it may be true that North Carolina is on the bottom rung of the ladder for teacher rankings, Gonzalez noted that there are programs and grants looking to assist in improvement.

These factors, she said, will hopefully lead to an improvement in teacher rankings in the future.

“Educational reform has always been and will always be something to talk about.”

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