ECU Biggest Supplier of Teachers, State Cuts Budget
East Carolina University is the largest producer of educators in North Carolina but cannot continue without the support of the state.
Funding for faculty, facilities and curriculum programs at the state’s public universities has undergone deep cuts, forcing administrators at ECU’s College of Education to find operational ”efficiencies” to meet the growing challenge. Efficiency is a good thing, but after the fat burns away from the budget, the university should not be forced to burn the muscle, too.
The pressure is increasing on ECU to keep up with the statewide teacher demand, ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard and Provost Ron Mitchelson revealed during a visit last week with The Daily Reflector’s editorial board.
The demand is the result a combination of state budget cuts and diminished tax revenues that have kept public school teachers’ pay well below the national average, even after last year’s hard-won increase to $35,000 per year for beginning teachers. On top of that, diminishing appropriations for public school resources make the profession less attractive than ever to young people planning careers.
Ironically, ECU’s market share of North Carolina’s graduated teachers is increasing. It currently produces about 22 percent of the state’s new teachers. But that simply is an indicator of the overall decline in new teacher production at the state’s other universities, Mitchelson said.
“The single biggest challenge is that fewer people believe that teaching is a profession they can make good on in North Carolina,” Ballard said. “ We know that cutbacks on teaching assistants and salaries for master’s recipients have had an impact on people’s interest in teaching.
To counter the trend, Grant Hayes, the new dean of the College of Education, has put together a recruitment plan to create new pathways expected to expand the university’s faculty, including a cluster of faculty hired for science education.