Local colleges seeing steep decrease in Education majors

Published: May. 5, 2014 at 11:24 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This is supposed to be a special week for teachers.  It's National Teacher Appreciation Week.

While the nation is to celebrate teachers, there is news that colleges are seeing a decrease in students majoring in education.

Leaders at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC) report a 20-40% decline in students saying they want to major in education.  They report this decrease is happening across the UNC college system.

The Dean of Education at UNCC, Ellen McIntyre, says the lack of interest is happening across the country.

"A lot of people aren't going into teaching," McIntyre said. "It's unfortunate and scary for our children."

McIntyre is worried about this news.  She gives possible reasons for the dip.

"These young people are not seeing a real life career in teaching because of low pay." McIntyre said.

The Dean also believes parents are discouraging their children to major in education.

"You can't blame them," McIntyre said. "They don't want their children to live close to the poverty line."

UNCC is trying to boost enrollment numbers. The school is now targeting people who would like to try education as a second career.

"It might be the folks right now," the Dean said. "Who have a spouse who makes a better income."

And the school is making sure its support programs for teachers are effective so teachers will stay in the classrooms.

McIntyre believes if teacher pay is not raised soon there will be a serious teacher shortage in a few years.

"If we don't do that," McIntyre said. "We are going to face the shortage and what happens is eventually we'll let anybody in. We stop thinking about the standards - we need somebody in front of those children."

She believes if that happens the students will suffer.  Programs are now shutting down because of a lack of interest in education.

Johnson C. Smith University will close its Department of Education next year. The decision was approved by the Board of Trustees.

The report states the reason. "The findings revealed low numbers of students entering the University with an interest in majoring in education. The findings indicated clearly that the department was no longer financially viable."

North Carolina teachers have expressed their frustrations over low pay, low morale, and respect for the profession disappearing.

Teachers have been leaving North Carolina to either go to other school districts where they pay teachers more or leave the teaching profession altogether for higher paying jobs.

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