New licensing certification program could ease teacher shortages in North Carolina

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -North Carolina has its name attached to an issue no state wants to be a part of: teacher shortages.

“What we do isn’t an easy job because of all the personalities involved,” said Mario Blanchard, Pitt County Association of Educators President.

Back in November, a study showed that the Tar Heel state was considered to have the 11th worst student to teacher population ratio in the country. Blanchard says he knows why.

“Lack of respect, a lot of us feel,” Blanchard said.

Now, all of that might be about to change after the state Board of Community Colleges approved a teacher licensing certification program that would give people with a four-year degree, the opportunity to take classes to teach at the elementary level.

Blanchard, who’s a math teacher at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, believes it could be a step forward for those schools.

“That can be an incentive for them to try to increase the number of teachers they have by offering to pay for some of these courses,” Blanchard said.

Classes for the program would be taken at local community colleges, with the goal of making them more affordable.

However, Blanchard still feels that pay is a big reason for the teacher shortage.

“If they can bring back master’s pay, that could probably help keep teachers in the classroom,” Blanchard said. “Instead of people leaving for other things, they might be more inclined to stay.”

The Board of Community Colleges’ applications will now go to the state Board of Education for final approval.