Guilford County Teacher Turnover Rate is Hightest since Recession
As a consequence of poor pay and better opportunities elsewhere, more and more teachers have begun leaving North Carolina; and Guilford County provides a perfect example. The teacher turnover rate in Guilford reached 14.95% last year, the highest its gone since the recession of 2007-2008. Despite a better overall economic climate, teachers in NC continue to make thousands of dollars less per year than their counterparts in other states. If the legislature continues to ignore the problem, these rates will only increase.
Guilford County Schools’ teacher turnover rate, 14.95 percent, is the highest since 2007-08, the first year of the recession. The turnover rate that year, 15.7 percent, is the highest during nearly two decades.
As the nation crawled out of the economic downturn, Guilford’s teacher retention numbers seemed to improve as well, with turnover hovering around 10 percent or 11 percent. But in the past five years, the school system has again seen a slow, steady uptick in the number and percentage of teachers leaving the classroom.
Many North Carolina school systems, though, are seeing turnover trends similar to Guilford’s.
The state rate, 14.84 percent, is slightly lower than Guilford’s. Like Guilford, though, the state’s rate has inched up each of the past five years.
That trend won’t change “until we address the root causes of why teachers leave the classroom,” state Superintendent June Atkinson said in a news release when turnover data for traditional public schools was released last week.
Most teachers indicated in a state survey they left for “personal reasons” such as a career change, early retirement or to relocate to another state. Many teachers also left one district to teach in another.
When asked about the reasons why teachers are leaving the classroom, some educators also point to teacher pay and a negative political climate around public education.
The level of pay for North Carolina makes it easier for school systems in Texas and Virginia to recruit teachers here, said Angela Jackson, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators. She said she hears from GCAE members that teachers may continue to live in North Carolina but drive to work in Virginia schools, where they could earn thousands more a year.
The average salary for a public school teacher in Virginia is about $15,000 more than in North Carolina.And that’s just with a bachelor’s degree.
With the budget they approved last month, state lawmakers fulfilled a promise to raise beginning teacher pay to $35,000. A common criticism from educators is veteran teachers aren’t getting similarly significant bumps in pay.
The higher starting salary lures younger — and less experienced — teachers, Jackson said. But “even with that pay increase, we still have educators who are working two and three jobs,“ she said