Contrary to what often passes for conventional wisdom, North Carolina’s public schools are not broken. In fact, they are educating a more challenging and more diverse student population to higher standards, across a much broader array of subject areas, than ever before – all while achieving record graduation rates.
But our public schools face a looming crisis. As the student dropout rate decreases, the teacher “dropout rate” is skyrocketing. In exit interviews, teachers have made clear that low pay is a key factor in deciding to leave. If we do not dedicate resources to pay our teachers more now, our children and state will pay a hefty price.
In North Carolina, public schools educate almost 1.5 million students or nearly 90 percent of our school-age children. As a native North Carolinian, I have always held a deep conviction that investing in public education – pre-K through our state university system – is the bedrock of our state’s prosperity. It’s what made North Carolina different – and special.