North Carolina teachers leaving for the Lone Star State

Saturday, June 28, 2014
NC teachers head to Texas for new jobs
Some teachers aren't sticking around to find out whether NC legislators will approve a teacher pay raise.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The last day of school for some North Carolina students will also be the final day some of their teachers.

The school system in Houston, Texas poached a number of teachers at a job fair in May, including Northern Nash High School math teacher Jamie Kendall.

After years of teaching in North Carolina schools, living on a $30,000 salary, and struggling to make ends meet, she's moving on.

"People go, why would you move to Texas?" said Kendall. "I have 17,000 reasons plus many more to go."

Her frustration led her to the job fair hosted by the Houston Independent Schools District.

Kendall was offered a contract and promised a starting salary of $47,000.

"It's not just about the money. It's about the opportunity. I'll actually be able to go back and get my master's. And from what I see with their no excuses policy, they respect teachers and value education," said Kendall.

Kendall says the district sold her on a motto of quality school leadership and high standards with a "no excuses" approach.

Jennalee Kwezi already has her master's degree, but in North Carolina, she doesn't get paid extra for it anymore.

"We had a cost of living bonus this year that was about $300 and, after taxes, it might have been around $190. It was just kind of a slap in the face. It was kind of like, okay, what am I going to do with $190? That's not even equivalent to one of my student loan payments," said Kwezi.

The Onslow County school teacher picked up a tutoring job on the side to support her income, but it wasn't enough. Now, she too, is packing her bags for Texas.

"Houston just won out because I don't want to work two jobs anymore. I want to focus on my classroom," said Kwezi.

The debate over teacher pay in North Carolina is reaching a boiling point as lawmakers debate how to compensate them, but some teachers like Kendall aren't sticking around to find out what happens next.

"I'm going to the 4th of July celebration in Northampton County just to say goodbye to my kids because I love them that much, but it's just time for a change," said Kendall.

At least 30 teachers were offered jobs during the Raleigh job fair.

It's the second time the Houston school district recruited in North Carolina.

This spring they put on an event at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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