Someone once said that money makes the world go round. Although I don't find this to be a happy thought it is generally true. According to the most recent rankings from the National Education Association, only three states spend less money per student than North Carolina. Our state spends a little more than $8,400 per student while the national average is just over $11,000. To make things even worse only three states, not the same ones as above, have a lower average teacher salary than North Carolina.
This begs a fundamental question: Why does education continue to be such a low priority in North Carolina? Doesn't it makes sense that if we are not willing to pay competitive teacher salaries then we will not attract teachers - especially the good ones - to our state. Even if some teachers might say that salary is not their top priority, they will certainly not want to teach in a school that may not have the appropriate instructional resources, or one where teachers need to spend their personal income for many classroom supplies.
It is a testament to the fine teachers of North Carolina that our students are not in the bottom 10 states academically. Yes, we are in the lower half of the 50 states but given the average per pupil spending and average teacher salaries it could be much worse. We know that money is not the answer to our problems in education; however, we also know that money plays an important role, both physical and psychological.
The research clearly shows that teachers are the biggest influence on student learning. In recent weeks we have heard a great deal about Governor McCrory's plan for enticing businesses to North Carolina by showing them that we have a well educated populace. If he and the state legislators are serious about making North Carolina nationally and globally competitive than they must invest in the one area that will ultimately make this happen - public school education.