Stoops: Reports of Mass N.C. Teacher Exodus Miss the Mark

Terry Stoops, the John Locke Foundation’s director of research and education studies, takes on the latest media narrative about teachers.

Some left-wing commentators have speculated that a sizable number of public school teachers are leaving North Carolina to teach in states that are, presumably, more hospitable to the profession. They want the public to believe that policies instituted by Republican lawmakers are to blame. It is the kind of baseless cause-and-effect claim that too often passes for fact in the mainstream media.

The truth is that relatively few North Carolina teachers leave the profession to teach in other states. Moreover, this trend has been consistent for years, no matter who was in charge of our political institutions.

According to the annual teacher turnover report from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, every year between 300 and 500 of the state’s approximately 96,000 teachers said they left the state to seek greener pastures.

I suspect the reasons teachers leave the state, as well as the destination states themselves, vary considerably. Unfortunately, DPI’s turnover report offers little detail. That fact, however, has not stopped some advocacy groups from highlighting a handful of dissatisfied teachers who attribute their exit to budgets and legislation passed by Republican majorities in the General Assembly since 2011.