Blog Archive

Why You Should Care About the Teacher Pipeline

Monday, April 6th, 2015

By Richard Nichols, 2015 MeckEd Board Chair

Spend enough time inside our city’s corporate boardrooms or around small business conference tables and you’ll hear two works again and again: Talent pipeline.

The business community is obsessed with managing its supply of qualified, available workers—and rightfully so. People are the most important resource in our community. They will shape the future of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, so long as we work diligently to ensure the supply keeps up with demand.

That’s the problem North Carolina’s public schools face today. A teacher pipeline crisis is coming. It’s up to all of us to figure out a way to solve it. Richard Nichols

There are many significant issues confronting public schools in North Carolina and CMS. Simply pick up the paper or turn on the news and you’ll hear about the new school grades, the fallout from our former superintendent’s surprise resignation, a court battle over school vouchers and an increase in students who live in poverty.

All of these issues are important. But I’m convinced the teacher talent pipeline squeeze is among the most urgent in 2015.

The data tells a disturbing story. The pipeline is being squeezed from several directions. On the front end, fewer college students want to become teachers. Enrollment in UNC system colleges of education is down 15 percent from 2008 to 2013.

On the back end, experienced teachers continue to leave the profession in alarming numbers. MeckEd recently looked into turnover rates in the four largest North Carolina school districts from the 2009-10 school year to the 2013-14 school year. We found increases in every district. Last year Durham Public Schools led the way with a 20 percent teacher turnover rate; CMS came in second at 15 percent.

Last year, in an attempt to address the state’s teaching crisis, the General Assembly invested $282 million in raises for North Carolina teachers. The funding led to raises of anywhere 0.3 percent to 18 percent for our state’s educators. This investment is necessary and appreciated. We are encouraged lawmakers and the governor recognize there is more work needed to raise our state’s average teacher salary from 46th in the nation, where it was last year, toward 25th, where it stood before the recession. A recent survey of educators found a whopping 52 percent of North Carolina teachers have a second job.

That statistic sends the wrong message to educators in other states, once an important source of talent for our public schools. Human resources teams from many North Carolina school districts travel each spring to the Northeast and Midwest to recruit the heck out of their educators and woo them to our classrooms. CMS was often able to hire outstanding teachers who found North Carolina to be an appealing option with competitive salaries, low cost of living and a comfortable climate. Selling North Carolina to these out-of-state teachers has become more difficult after the recession.

MeckEd is pleased that the UNC Board of Governors and the State Board of Education have developed a seven-point plan to address teacher training, recruitment and retention. The education sector clearly must lead the way in addressing its talent crisis. But it would be a mistake for the business community to believe we don’t have a role in this work, too.

Nothing is more important to our education system and the long-term economic vitality of our community than having high-quality teachers in front of our children. Without great teachers in every classroom, our community simply cannot meet the goal of providing high quality schools—for all children, in all neighborhoods.

The business community benefits from a well-educated society. The kids who graduate from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools can be part of our talent pipeline. So why aren’t we concerned with the talent shortage in our schoolhouses?

Richard Nichols is a senior vice president at Bank of America and MeckEd’s 2015 Board Chairman. This editorial first appeared in the April 3, 2015 edition of the Charlotte Business Journal.

Understanding the School Performance Grades

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

By Adam Rhew, Director of Public Policy
On Feb. 5, the state released for the first time the N.C. School Performance Grades, which are designed to measure and report the academic achievement in every public school in North Carolina. MeckEd created the infographic below as a resource for understanding the grading system and how the grades are calculated.

NC School Grades

MeckEd’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

By Dr. Bill Anderson, MeckEd Executive Director

As we begin a new year, I am pleased to announce MeckEd’s 2015 Public Policy Agenda—a list of priorities that underscore our mission of ensuring excellent public schools for all children.

This agenda is not set without much deliberation. The process actually began last summer, when MeckEd sought input from members of the community at two MeckEd Community Conversations. Our staff conducted extensive research on dozens of education policy issues at the state and local levels. Finally, the advocacy committee of our Board of Directors debated and analyzed the issues. The committee, and then the full board, voted unanimously to adopt the 2015 Public Policy Agenda. Bill Anderson

It includes three broad categories, as well as specific policy recommendations. You will notice that several of our policy goals remain the same. While MeckEd is grateful for the significant investment in teacher salaries in the Republican-led legislature last year, we know there is still more work to do. Our goal is still to bring North Carolina teacher salaries to the national average by 2019. Similarly, there is a need for more funding for the NC Pre-K program, which serves at-risk four-year-olds with quality education. Thousands of North Carolina children who could benefit from NC Pre-K cannot enroll because there are simply not enough seats.

We hope you will embrace these goals and share them with your elected officials. Make sure they know where you stand. In the coming weeks, MeckEd will roll out a number of resources and events that will help you effectively advocate for our public schools. Stay tuned—it’s going to be an exciting year!

Comparing Teacher Turnover and Neighborhood Income

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Today, MeckEd launched our 2014 Interactive Data Maps in collaboration with UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute. The new maps, which give us in-depth looks at all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, use a data visualization program called Tableau to make it even easier to understand the story behind the numbers.Adam Rhew

For example, you now can see where a school ranks in comparison to other CMS schools on measures such as graduation rate and READY Proficiency Scores.

In talking with the Urban Institute’s John Chesser, We thought it would be interesting to use the data to take a look at how the income level in particular neighborhoods affects teacher turnover rates and READY Proficiency Scores.

The dashboards below focus on teacher turnover at the school level in CMS. Select the grey boxes near the top of the dashboard to see other views of the data or more information.

The top dashboard shows two maps with school data on top of a view of income for the county by ZIP code. The darker colored areas reflect higher per capita income. The map on the right shows the new READY proficiency scores by school. There is a clear pattern in the way that schools in higher income areas tend to score above the district average. The map on the left shows that those same patterns don’t hold as well for teacher turnover.

Adam Rhew is MeckEd’s Director of Public Policy and Communications