Fewer NC College Students Pursue Teaching As A Career
The Asheville-Citizen Times reports on new numbers from NC colleges and universities that show a sharp decline in the number of NC students enrolled in a teaching program. From 2010 to 2013, there was a 17% decline, or nearly 2600 fewer students in teaching programs, which has led to concerns of teacher shortages in future years. From their article,
The numbers for those enrolled in undergraduate teacher education programs decreased from 15,000 in 2010 to just under 12,400 in 2013, a 17 percent decline. Enrollment in master's programs was also down.
The numbers include education majors plus "those pursuing courses needed for alternative licensure," according to a UNC system spokeswoman. Joni Worthington said 2014 numbers are not yet available.
Appalachian State and Western Carolina University also have seen fewer students enroll in teacher education programs. ASU measured a 23 percent decline over five years ending in 2013. Western saw a 15 percent drop.
At UNC Asheville, which does not offer an education major, the number of students completing the requirements for teacher licensure decreased from 84 in 2009-10 to 71 last year, according to the college.
Some veteran teachers say pay and media reports about low morale could be discouraging some potential future teachers.
"I think people are saying I don't want that job because it has a reputation of being a job that doesn't pay well and doesn't pay well enough to be able to support you for just an average living," said Dawn Rookey, an Owen High School teacher. "I think also there's been a lot of low teacher morale over the past three years with a lot of the legislative changes that have impacted the profession."
Young people may not see enough incentives to go into education, she said.
Rookey is a former Buncombe County Teacher of the Year. She's in her 16th year of teaching and says she and her husband both work second jobs.
Kim Brown, associate professor and chairwoman of the department of education at UNC Asheville, said she does not consider the numbers at UNCA "to be significant drops." The program has seen slight dips in enrollment before.
"We don't have data available in order to give an educated prediction concerning future enrollment," she said.
Dale Carpenter, dean of college of education and allied professions at Western Carolina University, said he does believe perceptions about teacher pay are playing a role in the drop in enrollment, especially with many students leaving college owing student loans.
"To go to college is getting more and more expensive and if you're going to come out of college with a significant debt, as many students do, then you want to be able to have some confidence that you're going to be able to not only live a decent life but to pay off that debt," Carpenter said.