Survey calls North Carolina the worst state for teachers in the US

Monday, September 29, 2014
Survey calls NC the worst state for teachers
A brand new study paints a startlingly discouraging picture of North Carolina schools and education environment for teachers.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A brand new study paints a startlingly discouraging picture of North Carolina schools and education environment for teachers. In fact, the report from the personal finance website, ranks our state dead last.

Using statistics compiled from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other groups, WalletHub analyzed factors like public school per student funding, ten-year change in teacher pay, safety of schools, and teaching wage disparities.

Among the study's findings, North Carolina ranked 51st in ten-year change in teacher salary; 48th in public school funding per student; 47th in median annual salary; 43rd in teachers' wage disparity; and 40th in safest schools.

State School Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson showed little surprise when ABC11 showed her the report.

"North Carolina has not invested in its teaching force as it should," said Atkinson. "It saddens me that here's another report saying North Carolina is at the bottom when it comes to valuing our teachers. We have to do something about it as a state."

State Rep. Tom Murray, a Wake County Republican, says in the state legislature, they are doing something about it.

"We're working hard on teacher pay," Murray said, "making sure that we're not just talking about teacher compensation but also student performance."

Murray blames most of the problems on previous Democratic administrations.

"That first decade of this year [sic], under Mike Easley and Bev Perdue, [there were] pretty bad numbers," Murray said.

He pointed out the numbers in the study reflect 2013 conditions and don't take into account changes made by the legislature this year, including teacher raises.

However, critics of the way Republicans have handled education in the past four years say the report is sad vindication that teachers and schools aren't getting the support they need.

"Here is yet more evidence that the right-wing political machine controlling state government is on a mission to ruin our public schools," said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress NC Action. "Our state used to be a leader in public education. Now, politicians like House Speaker Thom Tillis have driven North Carolina schools to the very back of the pack."

Rodney Ellis, with the state's largest teacher advocacy group, NCAE, agrees with Brenner, laying most of the blame at the feet of Republicans.

"They've had an opportunity over the past few years to turn this thing around," Ellis said, "and instead of turning it around; they've got it going in the same direction and at a faster rate."

Atkinson says schools and teachers have benefited from recent legislation passed in the General Assembly, particularly in areas such as work conditions and safe schools, but she says the state needs to go farther.

"North Carolina needs to invest in its teaching workforce and it cannot be a slow process," said Atkinson. "It has to be faster than you've ever done it in the past because we are seeing our teachers stretched to the limit."

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