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Trend of teachers leaving NC, classroom increasing as 1 in 7 educators left jobs last year

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — More North Carolina teachers left the profession last year because they were unhappy or decided to go to another state, a new report found.

About one in seven of the 96,010 teachers employed statewide during the 2012-2013 school year left their school district last year, according to the report to be presented to next week's State Board of Education meeting.

The statewide rate of teacher turnover was down a fraction to 14.1 percent from 14.3 percent the previous year. The slight decrease is because fewer teachers are retiring and fewer are moving into administration or other non-teaching positions, the state Department of Public Instruction said.

Teacher turnover has climbed steadily in the past five years, from 11 percent in 2009-2010, the report said.

About 95,000 teachers worked with more than 1.5 million students during the 2013-14 school year.

The number of teachers leaving because they are disgruntled is increasing. The report shows 1,011 said they were quitting classroom jobs because they were dissatisfied with teaching or were changing careers, up from 887 the previous year and 366 five years earlier. Another 734 teachers reported quitting to teach in another state, up from 455 the previous year.

The report only counts teachers who left their jobs as of March and doesn't include a rash of teachers recruited by other states this spring and summer after complaints that North Carolina's were among the country's lowest paid, said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

"It's disconcerting that we are losing good, quality, experienced teachers that have been trained in our state," Ellis said.

State legislators approved an average 7 percent pay raise for teachers this summer. Low teacher pay, efforts to eliminate job protections and other moves by Republicans have been central to the election Tuesday.

Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement that the slight drop in teacher turnover was good, but much more needed to be done to keep them in the classroom. His statement didn't describe how he would accomplish that.

"Teaching is difficult work and we need to continue to respect and reward our teachers to keep them in the profession," McCrory said. "The next step is to work with the General Assembly to create career opportunities and choices that help retain our excellent teachers."

Payroll data show 95,171 classroom teachers working full time in September, down by about 450 positions since the previous year, according to Alexis Schauss, the school business director at the state Department of Public Instruction. That data is an inexact snapshot of teacher employment because the beginning of the academic year sees many schools still hiring to fill vacant positions and educators waiting for their licenses to be processed, Schauss said.

Also, it's not yet clear how crowded classrooms are today because student enrollment is still being tallied, Schauss said.

Teacher turnover rates last year ranged from a high of 28 percent in Halifax County to a low of 6.5 percent in Surry County schools.

The report shows that more public schools report having trouble finding teachers in fields that are in the greatest demand like math, science and special education.


Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio.


Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

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