Conservative pundits such as John Hood of the John Locke Foundation are fond of criticizing the notion that students in states that spend more money on public schools are smarter and better educated as a result of that investment.
Hood, whose column appears regularly in the Rocky Mount Telegram, points to other countries that spend less on average per student, but whose kids score higher on standardized tests, when compared to the United States.
Hood’s argument does little to boost the morale of North Carolina teachers, most of whom haven’t seen a pay increase in five years. But Virginia educators certainly know how to get the attention of our classroom instructors.
Public schools in Virginia have made a practice this year of publishing Help Wanted ads in North Carolina newspapers. Since the Virginia border is only about an hour and change from Rocky Mount, and Virginia on average pays teachers about $4,000 a year more than North Carolina pays ours, plenty of Tar Heel State teachers are finding the grass greener just a little north of where they already live.
The net effect hurts North Carolina schools overall, since Virginia is in a position to choose the best and brightest of our educators. But it particularly hurts systems like Nash-Rocky Mount and Edgecombe County Public Schools, where educators everyday fight tough socio-economic factors to reach students who often come from homes where homework and studies are an afterthought.
Gov. Pat McCrory and leaders in the N.C. General Assembly have pledged to address teacher pay this year. Let’s hope they do so in a way that’s significant enough to keep our best teachers here in the Twin Counties.