These two data exhibits in the WesrEd Leandro Report paint a vivid picture of what many in this state have been describing for years: the weakening of the teacher pipeline in North Carolina because of policies set by the NCGA.
From 2009-10 to 2016-17, the percentage of new teachers who came from the UNC system dropped nearly 30%. Couple that with the fact that teachers who come from the UNC system have higher rates of retention at both the three-year and five-year mark (see below).
Then on page 218 directly following the above exhibits, the Leandro Report states,
Although there has been an increase in the number of teachers of color (now about 30% of teacher enrollments in state teacher preparation programs), some of these teachers — particularly African American and Native American recruits — are primarily entering through alternative routes, which have much higher attrition rates. One reason for this is the steep drop in teacher education enrollments in minority-serving institutions, including historically Black colleges, which decreased by more than 60% between 2011 and 2016.
Teachers of color are an important resource. Recent research — much of it conducted in North Carolina — has found that having a same-race teacher has a positive impact on the long-term education achievement and attainment of students of color, particularly African American students (e.g., Dee, 2004; Gershenson, Hart, Lindsay, & Papageorge, 2017).
This state could do one action to help both increase the number of teacher candidates trained in our UNC system and bring in more minority teacher candidates – expand the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program exponentially – the same North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program that put so many great teachers in our NC schools for years.
That is until it was abolished and then brought back as a shadow of its former self.
The latest iteration of the Teaching Fellow Program only accommodates 160 potential teachers at “only one of five public or private universities to be selected by an appointed committee ” for only select fields. This comes nowhere to replacing a program that yearly helped train 500 potential teachers at multiple campuses in a variety of subjects who were for 25 years also walking advertisements for teaching in the state that was at one time committed to public schools.
What NC needs now is to raise that number of yearly candidates to at least 1500.
Imagine if just one-tenth of the budget surplus that Phil Berger and Tim Moore have been bragging about these last few years was reinvested into the Teaching Fellow Program and expanded it to beyond what it used to be to include all state-supported colleges and universities with emphasis on our public Historically Black Colleges & Universities.
Because this state needs more good teachers – more good teachers who stay. We especially need more minority teachers to whom our students can look up to in the most impressionable times of their lives.
Studies show that minority students who have minority teachers achieve more in school.
And the Leandro report confirms that.