Governor Cooper allocates $3 million in federal funding to help aspiring NC teachers

By: - June 9, 2023 2:12 pm
The governor is shaking hands with teachers in the school library

Governor Roy Cooper shakes hands with educators at Garner High School before announcing his plans to combat the teacher shortage on June 9. Photo: Chantal Brown

After touring Garner Magnet High School on Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state of North Carolina will be allotting $3 million in federal funding to the group TeachNC to help aspiring teachers. The funds are intended to cover the costs of licensure exams and exam preparation for those entering the profession in North Carolina. It’s hoped the funds can play a part of in addressing the state’s ongoing teacher shortage. TeachNC — a private nonprofit established in 2019 — and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will be in charge of distributing funding from this initiative.

Cooper said that the decision to allocate the funds was another response to the pandemic. He cited a recent report that indicated significant post-pandemic learning recovery has been achieved for some students as a result of federal investments that allowed the state to hire tutors and conduct intense summer school programs. “So that shows you that smart investment in education does work,” Cooper said.

North Carolina currently has 5,000 teacher vacancies. According to Cooper’s DRIVE Task Force, licensure exams are a key barrier to people of color looking to enter the teaching profession.

Teaching licensure exams can cost up to $450. Any North Carolina teacher who took a licensure exam on or after July 1, 2022, as well as current or aspiring teachers who will be taking a licensure exam before June 30, 2024, can apply for reimbursement for licensure fees via the TeachNC website.

“Our work with TeachNC has already supported more than 3,600 aspiring teachers in our state to apply to an educator preparation program,” said Dr. Jason Caldwell, Director of TeachNC and Educator Recruitment Partnerships at NCDPI. “This is such an important and tangible way we can alleviate financial burdens experienced by those choosing to enter the teaching profession while helping to bolster the state’s teaching pipeline long-term.”

“The DRIVE Task Force works to attract and keep a diverse array of teachers in our public schools. The studies have been overwhelming that not only do children of color do better when their teachers are diverse, all students also do better,” Cooper said.

Cooper also made use of the event to reiterate his call for the General Assembly to provide significantly more education funding — particularly to incentivize teachers to work in more rural areas.

“One of the things that we want to do is raise the salary and support for those teachers. The Leandro lawsuit that hasn’t been funded started in schools that were low wealth, so making that investment would be important for those rural schools that need it the most.”

The governor said that he has been visiting schools for the past few weeks to encourage businesspeople, teachers, and parents to contact their legislators and encourage them to invest in public schools in the upcoming budget.

“When it comes to funding, we can choose to eliminate corporate taxes, we can choose a private school voucher scheme that would allow students that have children who are in private schools already to recruit thousands of taxpayer dollars or we can invest in public schools- I choose the latter,” Cooper said

Based on the current state Senate and House budget proposals, teachers can expect no more than a 10% raise over the next two years, at the same time new and bigger appropriations will be provided to private school vouchers.

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Chantal Brown
Chantal Brown

Chantal Brown was a summer reporting fellow at NC Newsline. She was recently graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Journalism. Brown was hired as a K-12 reporter at Education NC in 2023.