Sunday, August 16, 2015

North Carolina Teachers Finding Greener Pastures?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  North Carolina's educators are constantly complaining they’re paid well below the national average.  The fact is each state has a different median income and cost of living.  The truth is teachers make as much, if not more, than the average Tar Heel family.

The media is making a big deal about retention rates in North Carolina.  Little is reported on where these teachers originate from and to why they’re leaving, except of course the media’s portrayal of poor pay and lack of respect.  The John Locke Foundation shed some light on this topic.

Earlier this month, Dr. Alisa Chapman, Vice President for Academic and University Programs for the University of North Carolina System, briefed members of the NC State Board of Education on the background, demographics, and qualifications of the state's teaching profession.

Drawing on data from the 2011-2012 school year, Dr. Chapman found that, of the 95,543 teachers employed that year, approximately 37 percent of them were trained in UNC System institutions.  The next largest share consisted of teachers trained in other states.  Nearly 29 percent of North Carolina's teacher workforce received their teaching credential from a college or university beyond our borders.  The remaining third of teachers could not be classified, came from a private university in North Carolina, or entered the profession through alternative entry, Teach for America (TFA), or Visiting International Faculty (VIF) programs.

Do not be alarmed.  Do not blame Republicans.  Do not blame me.  This is nothing new.  For a decade or more, the UNC System and out-of-state institutions have supplied the majority of North Carolina's public school teachers.  Dr. Chapman found that, between 2005 and 2012, there were only slight fluctuations in the percentage of teachers trained by the UNC System or "imported" from other states.

Data on teachers trained in UNC System institutions is plentiful.  Although Dr. Chapman has identified their states of origin, we know less about teachers trained in other states.  It should come as no surprise that New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia supplied 12 percent or nearly 11,300 public school teachers during the 2011-2012 school year.  Permanent teaching jobs are harder and harder to come by in those states, because their populations are declining or aging, the local tax bases cannot support extravagant spending on public schools, and turnover is limited.   As long as supply continues to outstrip demand (and it will for the foreseeable future), growing school districts in North Carolina will continue to recruit teachers from these states

Houston, TX has been recruiting North Carolina teachers.  Those leaving for greener pastures cite a higher salary and no state income tax.  Funny how no state income taxes is an incentive when they, and their progressive comrades, skewered republicans for trying to abolish it.

Ricky Ferguson said he's working his dream job, teaching high school science.  Last year, he taught in Union County.  Now he is one of dozens of North Carolina transplants teaching in Texas.

 "I'm doing the same job I was doing in Carolina, I'm just being appreciated here more in Texas," Ferguson said.

Channel 9 first met Ferguson in July when Houston school leaders were in Charlotte, trying to recruit new teachers.  Ferguson accepted the job on the spot, excited to make $60,000, which is double his North Carolina salary.  

"With North Carolina with the salary I was making and the state income tax, I was lucky if I brought home $20K a year and that's with a master’s degree," Ferguson said.
The cost of living in Houston is comparable to Charlotte's and Texas does not collect income tax, so teachers keep more of their paychecks.

I have no doubt in my mind Mr. Ferguson was a big advocate for the progressive income tax in North Carolina.  Now that he’s in Houston, I wonder what progressives have to say about the state of education in Texas.  Here’s an excerpt from an article.  See if you notice anything familiar.

Despite having a starting salary that is on par with other states, the average teacher in Texas makes about $49,000 a year — about $8,000 below the national average. Teacher pay in Texas ranked 30th in the nation during the 2010-11 school year, dropping to 35th two years later, according to an annual state-by-state analysis by the National Education Association.

Mr. Ferguson has a starting salary of $60,000 a year and living in a luxury apartment when the average annual salary for a teacher in Texas is $49,000?  Something smells fishy.


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