by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In an op-ed published by NC Policy Watch, Mooresville Graded Superintendent Mark Edwards writes,
The treatment of our state’s teachers is creating a drastic drop in enrollment in our Colleges of Education throughout North Carolina; furthermore, it is causing veteran teachers to retire ahead of when many planned because they feel disheartened and dishonored.
First, no empirical evidence substantiates that claim. Do college students have any awareness of the “treatment of our state’s teachers” when they declare a major? Otherwise, we have to assume that economic conditions, parental input, and the like still play a significant role in the decision. Additionally, do we know how many teachers retired early because they “feel disheartened and dishonored” and how that compares to previous years? Nope.
Second, education school enrollment is dropping nationwide. I examined federal Title II reports from 2008-09 to 2012-13 (latest available). During that period, there was a 30 percent drop in enrollment nationwide. Among Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, only Kentucky had an increase in teacher education students. North Carolina’s decrease was 19 percent.
Interestingly, the state’s education school enrollment increased by 20 percent between 2008-09 and 2011-12. Most SREB states, including North Carolina, took a hit in 2012-13. Nearly 110,000 fewer students enrolled in a teacher training programs in the United States from 2011-12 to 2012-13.
Perhaps the perception that teachers are mistreated is a national phenomenon. Perhaps teachers’ discontent has more to do with local working conditions that are beyond the control of state legislatures. If one or both are the case, then there isn’t much that Governor McCrory and legislative leaders can do to change it.