The pressure on North Carolina’s 95,000 classroom teachers is mounting. Inside the classroom, teachers wrestle with an increase in child poverty, implementing the new Common Core curriculum, and diminishing resources. Outside the classroom, teacher salaries are stagnant, tenure is gone, and teacher assistants have been laid off.
While this may seem like a bleak picture, there is plenty of evidence that public education is not “broken.” High school graduation rates are at an all-time high, and national test scores have shown improvement. And most teachers remain optimistic. They find great joy in an ever-demanding profession and are deeply invested in seeing students succeed. Teachers often dig into their own pockets to buy a child breakfast, or purchase classroom supplies.
It is also true that the teaching profession is at a historic crossroads. The North Carolina Teacher Project will spend a year telling the stories of educators from across the state, covering related news as it breaks and investigating how the significant reforms put into place by the General Assembly in 2013 will impact the state’s 1.5 million students.
Along the way, we’ll ask the important questions often lost in discussions of policy and political battles, such as:
- What makes a good teacher?
- How do we reward the best teachers?
- How do we train, recruit, and retain effective educators?
The North Carolina Teacher Project will include dozens of in-depth radio stories, including investigative and enterprise features and series. Some of those already in the works are:
- The Past, Present and Future of Teaching
- Training Teachers: Where Will NC’s Educators Come From?
- Testing Teachers: Rewarding Our Best Educators
The Project will also include Story Corps-style reminiscences of students and their teachers and a video series featuring some of North Carolina’s most effective educators.
These reports are part of American Graduate - Let’s Make it Happen! - a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.