RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper got a firsthand look at education issues facing our state at the Public School Forum’s third annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh on Wednesday morning.
The event allows leaders to discuss the status of public education in North Carolina. It coincides with day one of the news legislative session.
It highlights the top ten education issues our state faces – with leadership, funding and teacher investment sitting at the top three.
“We have to invest in our people,” said Cooper. “We have to invest in public education.”
Cooper was there for a panel discussion as lawmakers draft up a two-year spending plan. He said teacher pay will be his top concern.
“There’s going to be debate over whether they continue to reduce corporate tax and personal income tax that mostly benefits the wealthy or whether they invest in education and in order to get our teacher salaries where we want them to be we have to choose education,” said Cooper.
“We need to do an across the board pay raise to get to a nice high pay so teachers are not working second jobs,” said Christina Hoy of the group “Dignify Teachers.”
Experienced teachers are starting to leave the classroom for good.
Although teacher salaries have risen in the Tar Heel State over the last two years, the average teacher’s salary is still ranked 41st nationally.
“They not only leave because of pay but because of weak leadership or they leave because they’re having to spend money on resources,” said Hoy. “I used to spend $60 a month just for toner so I could print out work I need to give to students. I also bought an at home printer.”
Enrollment in UNC System’s Schools of Education – the state’s largest source of teachers — is also down 30 percent since 2010.
“Kids just aren’t getting into teaching anymore,” said Cooper. “We have to show them that we value them. It starts with pay.”
“I would love to go back to classroom,” said Hoy. “I just need more pay. I need a stronger evaluation too. I need much smaller class sizes. The class sizes were too big. I couldn’t care and love for my kids as I need to. Get those three things under control and I might step back in the classroom.”