As a recent college graduate, I am a prime example of why we are suffering from a shortage of teachers. After graduating with a degree in engineering, I realized I had a desire to teach and began looking in to what it would take to do so. With my engineering background, I realized I might make a good candidate for a high school math teacher.
I found that if I invested enough time, I could get certified to teach math, but there was a problem: money. After looking into the well-defined pay grades for teachers with zero years of experience, I realized I would make less than $30,000 a year ? $29,750 to be exact. I also saw the less-than-awe-inspiring pay increases each year. Despite my passion for teaching, I began to pursue other career goals. It made me wonder how many other opportunities for well-qualified teachers our state has missed due to uncompetitive salaries.
Over the past decade state government has provided North Carolina teachers with generous pay raises and teaching bonuses. It seems little if any of those resources have been have directed toward raising starting salaries for new teachers. It is true when you include compensation and benefits, pay for North Carolina teachers is above the national average. It is also true that in many areas starting salaries for new teachers are too low to attract qualified young professionals. Raising starting teacher salaries needn’t be difficult. It can be done by better targeting existing resources and by creating more innovative pay plans. Making starting teacher salaries more competitive is a small step, but one that could have a big impact on convincing others like myself to return to the classroom and do their part in ending our statewide teacher shortage.