Recruiting public school teachers gets new focus

 State News  Comments Off on Recruiting public school teachers gets new focus
Mar 122017

RALEIGH –  A newly revamped N.C. Teaching Fellows scholarship program is before the state legislature now after a coalition of the state’s top brass in education presented it at the NCSU Center for Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center. The new Teaching Fellows program provides up to $8,500 in scholarships for people to go into teaching special education or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). These are the areas that are the most difficult for teacher recruitment. spellings The program replaces the N.C.

Source: Recruiting public school teachers gets new focus | North State Journal

Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Eric Naisbitt
March 9, 2017

Barefoot, Horn Unveil North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program

Raleigh, N.C. – Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake) and Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) on Thursday unveiled the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program – establishing a distinguished, forgivable loan program for teachers who demonstrate a desired commitment to serve in STEM or special education subject areas and agree to teach in North Carolina’s Public Schools.

Sen. Barefoot and Rep. Horn were joined by top education legislators and other leaders of the education community, including: UNC President Margaret Spellings, State Superintendent Mark Johnson, NCICU President Dr. Hope Williams, NCSU Chancellor Dr. Randy Woodson, and leadership from the NCSU College of Education at the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus.

“This will ensure that the greatest needs of our public schools are being met by highly qualified teachers,” said Sen. Barefoot. “North Carolina Teaching Fellows establishes a distinguished forgivable loan program for students who demonstrate a desired commitment to teach in STEM or special education subject areas in North Carolina’s Public Schools.

The purpose of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program is to recruit, prepare, and support students attending North Carolina’s top education programs for preparation as highly effective STEM or special education teachers in the State’s public schools. Students participating in the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program will receive up to $8,250 per year in forgivable loans if they commit to teach in a STEM or a special needs area. The bill also allows teaching fellows recipients that go on to teach in a low-performing school to have their loans forgiven faster.

The 2015-2016 North Carolina State of the Teaching Profession report shows that since 2013, the top five most difficult to staff subject areas, as reported by the local school districts, are math, science and special education across different grade levels. In 2015, ninety school districts reported having difficulty staffing High School Math teachers.

“North Carolina has a rich and proud heritage of quality education.,” said Rep. Horn. “We believe that the North Carolina Teaching Fellows will play a substantial role in raising the bar even further by supporting strong educator preparation programs that develop strong educators in our classrooms.”


North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program Highlights

• The North Carolina Teaching Fellows program establishes a distinguished forgivable loan program for teachers who demonstrate a desired commitment to serve in STEM or Special Education subject areas and agree to teach in our North Carolina Public Schools.
• The purpose of the program is to recruit, prepare and support students residing in or attending institutions of higher education located in North Carolina for preparation as highly effective STEM or special education teachers in the state’s public schools.
• The bill establishes the “North Carolina Teaching Fellows Commission” through appointments by the UNC Board of Governors and the General Assembly.
• The commission will be comprised of academic deans, teachers, principals, a member from business and industry and a local school board member.
• Serving in an ex-officio capacity will be the NC Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Superintendent of the Year, Chair of the SEAA and Director of the Teaching Fellows Program.
• The Commission will determine both the student selection criteria and select the award recipients.
• The Commission will also set stringent criteria and choose the 5 most effective teacher preparation programs in North Carolina to participate in the Teaching Fellows Program.
• The UNC Board of Governors will appoint a director to the program who will be responsible for aggressive and strategic recruitment activities including:
• Targeting regions of the state with the highest teacher attrition rates and recruitment challenges
• Actively engaging with educators, business leaders, community leaders throughout North Carolina
• Attracting candidates in STEM and special education to the program.
• The Superintendent of Public Instruction will be responsible for identifying and providing to the Commission a list of STEM and special education licensure areas that are seriously needed so that the Commission has up-to-date information on the state’s greatest needs.
• The amount of the forgivable loan is up to $8,250.
• Any student with a high school, associates or bachelor’s degree is eligible. Even students who wish to transfer or change their majors are eligible.
• The loan forgiveness commitment is structured like this:
• Teachers have 10 years to pay back the loan.
• For every year a teacher was awarded a forgivable loan, they have to serve one year in a low performing school. Or:
• For every year a teacher was awarded a forgivable loan, they have to serve two years…or some combination of both.
• The State Education Assistance Authority will administer the loan portion of the program.
• The amount proposed in this bill is $6,000,000 or about 160 teachers per year.

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 Posted by at 8:02 pm

Common myths about Republicans and education

 Food for Thought, State News  Comments Off on Common myths about Republicans and education
Sep 072016

It has been my privilege to be involved in education for more than a half century as a teacher, chairman of the State Board of Education, vice-chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, chair of the Public School Forum, member of the Meredith College and Catawba College boards of trustees, as well as being a member of countless local, state and regional education boards, task forces and committees. I hope no one will question my support for education at every level. However, in today’s toxic political environment, anything is possible!

While I realize we are in the midst of some highly competitive campaigns, I have never before seen as much outlandish, misleading, inaccurate and often completely untrue rhetoric about Republicans and public education.

Myth: Teachers are leaving North Carolina in record numbers. The truth is that last year, 6.8 percent left teaching to pursue a different career and only 1.1 percent left to teach in a different state. Some undoubtedly left because their spouses found jobs in other professions. In fact, between 2010 and 2014, 8,500 out-of-state teachers moved to North Carolina to teach while only 2,200 teachers left.

Myth: Republicans are cutting textbook funding. Since Gov. Pat McCrory was elected, spending on textbooks has tripled from $23 million to $72 million per year. In fact, it was the Democrats who cut textbook funding from $111 million to $2.5 million seven years ago. This GOP increase is in addition to $143 million in state and federal funds to transition classrooms to digital and wi-fi connectivity. In less than two years, N.C. will be one of a few states where all classrooms are connected.

Myth: Spending on K-12 spending has been cut. Since Republicans assumed power, spending on K-12 has increased by 18 percent, including a $700 million increase in this year alone. North Carolina is unique in the level of state funding it provides for K-12 public schools with 64 percent of funding coming from the state compared with the national average of only 46 percent. Education receives the largest share of the state budget, and K-12 receives by far the largest chunk of those dollars. Only in government can increases be called reductions!

Myth: Teacher salaries are being increased only because this is an election year. Two years ago, North Carolina raised teacher’s salaries more than any other state in the nation. Teacher salaries were increased by 14 percent for beginning teachers. Last year teachers with six through 10 years experience received raises between 6 and 17 percent. This year teachers received pay increases averaging 4.7 percent, and those experienced teachers between eight and 19 years on the pay scale received raises of 10 to 13 percent!

Myth: Principals have been left behind as teacher pay has been steadily increased under the Republicans. That has been true for the past eight years when they received a total of 1.2 percent increased pay. This year the Republicans granted 2 percent raises with a study approved for administrator compensation. Small, yes, but a recognition of the problem and a step in the right direction.

Myth: North Carolina’s pay for teachers compared with other states is slipping. As McCrory took office, pay had slipped to 47th. We will move to at least 41 this year and to a projected 34th next year. Total compensation, including fringe benefits, now averages $66,000 for 10 months’ employment. Is that enough for the tough job teachers face every day? Not for the effective teachers, but the trend has certainly been reversed and is headed toward our paying our teachers the most in the Southeast.

Myth: Class size has been increased. The truth is that kindergarten is capped at 18 students, first grade at 16 and second and third grades at no more than 17.

It is true that the Republicans are moving away from paying teachers based on longevity, degrees and certifications. Now that they have dramatically improved the base salaries in addition to reducing the number of years it takes for a teacher to reach the top of the pay scale, they are looking for ways to reward performance, leadership, extra work. I have been unable to find credible research that says the “old way” of paying based on degrees and seat time was effective.

So Republicans have dramatically increased teacher compensation (and will continue to do so), offered more parental choice and options for students, stressed the importance of reading, given additional funding for STEM programs, reduced class size and increased funding for technology and textbooks.

Does all that and more justify the political rhetoric that Republicans don’t care or fund education?

Phil Kirk is chairman emeritus of the State Board of Education and a resident of Raleigh.

 Posted by at 2:31 pm