Teachers are the number one school-related factor affecting student outcomes. Knowing this, it should go without saying that teachers are vital to our public education system. Unfortunately, like in many other places, North Carolina’s teacher pipeline has been struggling for years now. The perception that teaching is a noble but not properly respected profession has discouraged potential educators who could be in classrooms helping students succeed today. As a state, we have to address this.
As this legislative session nears its conclusion, it is disappointingly clear that statewide solutions to our teacher pipeline problem are not immediately on the horizon, but that does not mean all hope is lost. As today’s guests have shared, school districts have had to find innovative ways to make sure their students have diverse and effective teachers guiding them along their academic journeys, and for some, this has opened the door for exciting collaborations with local community colleges and universities.
Many of North Carolina’s community colleges offer teacher preparation degrees that can help those interested begin the training necessary to transfer to a four-year institution and earn a bachelor’s degree and NC Teaching License. Future educators can use these associate’s degree programs as a direct path to further education and training, and then a career.
Several North Carolina school districts, community colleges and universities have taken an additional step to strengthen this pathway as well as continue to find innovative ways to improve the educator pipeline by participating in the North Carolina Educator Pipeline Collaborative. The Collaborative is a Public School Forum program created in partnership with the NC Office of the Governor, The Belk Foundation and The Belk Endowment in which the cohort works together to share, develop, and implement policies and practices that will enhance and extend their efforts to recruit, prepare, support, and retain a diverse, highly effective educator workforce.
The inaugural cohort includes eight partnerships:
- Appalachian State University, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, and Caldwell County Schools
- East Carolina University, Pitt Community College, and Pitt County Schools
- Elon University and Alamance Community College
- North Carolina A&T State University, Guilford Technical Community College, and Guilford County Schools
- North Carolina Central University, Durham Technical Community College, and Durham Public Schools
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Kannapolis City Schools
- University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Old Main STREAM Academy
- University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College, and New Hanover County Schools
Since the launch of the first cohort, the participating districts and institutions have demonstrated a determination to recruiting and training teachers who can in turn educate the over 1 million children who attend our public schools. However, those participating in this program are not alone in their commitment to repairing North Carolina’s educator pipeline.
There are many North Carolina residents who continue to believe in the value of public education and want our schools to have what they need to succeed, the ability to recruit and retain effective teachers being high on that list. Teaching is both a noble and respected profession, and making that clear is vital to fixing the teacher pipeline.
In addition to the continued efforts of local districts and institutions, getting the pipeline to thrive will have to include changes in statewide policy. Growing, retaining and diversifying North Carolina’s teacher pipeline is one of the Public School Forum’s Top Education Issues this year. Our specific policy recommendations for this issue are:
- Eliminate requirements for teacher licensure exams that are not predictive of educator effectiveness, i.e. PRAXIS Core
- Open the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program to prospective teachers in all subject areas and structure financial support as scholarships, rather than forgivable loans
- Increase the diversity and number of National Board Certified Teachers by reimbursing certification fees and providing support for teachers of color during the process
- Collect more actionable data on teacher satisfaction, disaggregated by race, on the Teacher Working Conditions Survey to better inform recruitment and retention efforts
- Provide flexibility in how districts can utilize position allotments to address instructional needs.
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