600 teachers quit in Wake County, North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/CNN) – Teachers in North Carolina’s largest school system are leaving their jobs in droves.

The Wake County school district says 600 teachers have quit since the school year began.

The district says that’s up 41 percent compared to a year ago. Wake County employs nearly 9,000 teachers.

“We’re going on years with no raises for teachers, and there needs to be a change,” Britt Morton, Departing Apex High teacher said.

But for hundreds of teachers in Wake County aren’t willing to wait for that change.

“Now we’re having to leave, just to make ends meet,” Morton said.

A big spike in teachers forced out of the classroom, they say, over simple economics.

“Being a teacher is who I am. It’s what I think about. It’s what I read about. It’s what I do. It’s who I am, and to have to make the decision to leave that for financial reasons was devastating,” Kelly Nystrom, Departing Underwood Elementary teacher said.

And over at NC State they say the future supply of teachers is also dwindling.

“We have students who think, why should I go into a profession where I’m going to be poorly educated? I’m going to lack due process rights, when I can go into another profession where I’m going to be compensated fairly, and I’m going to have a greater deal of autonomy,” Dr. Michael Maher, NCSU College of Education said.

Wake Schools blames stagnant pay, the ending of career status, and the elimination of pay increases for advanced degrees.

“This is an alarm cry. I need somebody to care, and I need somebody to recognize the problem, and I need the people who can do something about it to listen and respond,” Dr. Jim Merrill, Wake County Schools Superintendent said.

State Republicans say they are listening, promising to raise starting salaries from 30,800 dollars to 35,000 dollars when the general assembly convenes next month.

“There’s no doubt that the base pay of teachers is the first priority. Another priority is to try and get pay raises for all state employees, including all teachers, but I’ve also got a Constitutional responsibility to balance the budget,” Gov. Pat McCrory (R) North Carolina said.

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