Jun 10, 2022 - News

Teachers in NC and across the country are overwhelmed

Average income of secondary school teachers
Data: BLS; Note: Excludes special education, career/technical education, and elementary school teachers; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

American teachers have long been navigating stagnant wages — but the increasing stress in classrooms is causing some to second guess their profession.

Context: In the last two years, demands on educators have mounted as they’ve been forced to navigate both a pandemic and intensifying political interference in their lesson plans.

  • As the school year wraps up, the threat of school shootings has once again risen to the forefront of many teachers’ minds, including in North Carolina.

Why it matters: Many experts warn of a looming staffing crisis, Axios’ Erica Pandey and Alison Snyder write.

The latest: Some 7% of teachers here said they had immediate plans to quit, according to a recently released survey conducted by the state’s Department of Public Instruction in March — a 3% increase from 2020.

  • Of note: Only three states pay secondary teachers worse than North Carolina, according to 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and, with their burdens seemingly growing, educators are increasingly fed up.
  • This year’s survey also had a higher response rate than 2020’s.

What they’re saying: "I want enough in order to live on and survive, but I also want an environment where I can grow and learn and ironically, that doesn't happen at schools," high school science teacher Gabe DeCaro told WRAL.

  • He, like thousands more North Carolina teachers, is planning to quit this summer.
  • Teachers interviewed by the outlet cited feeling unappreciated and negative school environments as reasons for quitting this spring, the news station reported.

What’s next: Under a draft plan, North Carolina teachers could be paid based on student test scores and evaluations, rather than experience. Most teachers surveyed by the state were concerned by that model, however, The News & Observer here.

Go deeper: America is pushing teachers to the brink

Want to know how to help the teachers in your life? Here are a few ideas.

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