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Education majors’ equation for teacher recruitment solved by pay

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(The Center Square) – Education majors from Appalachian State University offered suggestions on how to recruit more teachers during Tuesday’s meeting of the State Board of Education.

Their answer was familiar: more money.

In particular, the students said the state should pay teachers for earning master’s degrees.

“I know many people from my cohort that have dropped out of the master’s accelerated admissions program because we aren’t getting paid for it,” said Graylyn Wood, a special education major. “Why should we pursue this for another year if we aren’t going to get compensated for that?”

Wood, a senior from Cary, was inspired to go into education by a teacher at her high school with whom she worked as a teacher cadet.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with her and she was a mentor to me,” Wood told the board members. “I’ve always had a drive and a fire inside of me to teach, to help and to inspire and to implement change in this world.”

Her sentiments were shared by other students on the panel who said financial stress makes it more difficult for teachers to help their students who may be dealing with their own academic and personal problems, the students said.

Acknowledging the importance of teacher pay, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper recently asked the Legislature to give teachers 8.5% pay raises and a $1,500 retention bonus. He’s done so before, and he’s rejected budgets by Republican-majority lawmakers that included pay raises.

The state has a $1.4 billion budget surplus, according to the legislature’s Fiscal Budget Office. New state revenue projections are forecasting an extra $413 million in the current fiscal year and an extra $1 billion in 2024-25.

Under Cooper’s proposal, starting teachers would earn more than $47,500, counting local and state supplement, which would be the highest of any state in the Southeast, the governor said.

In a survey of 102,000 North Carolina educators, more than 90% said they believe their school is a good place to work and learn, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said in a statement Tuesday.

“In addition, 88% of educators indicated that they plan to remain teaching in North Carolina, an increase from 2022 survey results,” the department said.

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