NC Legislature forcing talented educators to leave the state


by Brian Washington

An all too familiar refrain is being repeated by many of the best educators in the nation—“I love my kids.  I love teaching, but I can’t afford to do it anymore.”

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Some teachers are getting out of the profession altogether, while others are leaving the students, schools, and communities they love in favor of other states where educators can make enough money to pay their bills and raise a family. The latter situation is true for Chris Gable, a social studies and language arts teacher at Asheville Middle School in Asheville, North Carolina.

Gable has resigned his position this month and he and his family are moving to Ohio.  He says a teacher with his qualifications—ten years experience and a master’s degree—can earn about $30,000 more than what he is making.  Gable’s current salary stands $38,000, which qualifies him, his wife, and their three young children for Medicaid and food assistance.

Asheville Middle School is going to be losing a good teacher.  Gable was the only teacher at his school to exceed expected growth at his school and, in addition to teaching, he also coaches young writers and budding poets, and serves as bookkeeper, counselor, gym teacher, lunchroom supervisor, and several other roles at the school.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from parents and peers about the fact that I am leaving,” said Gable. “I want to continue to serve this community, but the state legislature has made it impossible.

That’s because state lawmakers have failed to provide teachers with an adequate pay raise in the last seven years and salaries are currently frozen.  They have also eliminated additional pay for those educators who earn advance degrees and have cut back on funding for instructional supplies and teaching assistants.

Across the state of North Carolina, educators are engaging community stakeholders in an effort to get them to lean on state elected leaders on behalf of students, educators, and public schools.  In schools around the state, teachers and education support professionals joined with parents as well as community and elected leaders to draw attention to the impact the changes made by the North Carolina Legislature is having on public education. While the demonstrations were successful in creating a community dialogue about what needs to change, it’s not enough to prevent Gable from leaving.

“It’s not my kids or the school district—it’s the state,” said Gable. “The people who are making decisions in the legislature have made it clear they don’t value teachers and have made a situation where many people just like me—who are seasoned, quality teachers—leave. The legislature has forced us to leave and it saddens me.”

If you want to read more about Gable’s story, click here. To stay up to date on the latest news impacting students, educators, and public education, click here.

Reader Comments

  1. John, it is not “probably the right winger plan”, it is the plan. The right wing agenda is driven by ALEC to privatize, through for profit charter schools, our publicly funded education system. Go to to learn more about how David and Charles Koch are controlling our States through the Republican elected legislators. Everybody needs to read about ALEC, spread the news, and expose ALL elected officials who are on board with them.

  2. This is happening in every state. Teachers love teaching. Yet, everywhere teachers are so unappreciated and underpaid for their dedication,compassion,and creativity.
    It is hard to continue to love your job when there is the constant fear of punitive action taken based on test data.
    It is hard to continue to love your job when your pay is so low that you cannot support your family.
    Doing more and more is not enough, while making do with less.
    Something needs to change.
    Hard to imagine why anyone would want to become a teacher considering how things really are!

  3. I left NC to work in another state. I am highly qualified, masters degree and national certification. Politicians do not respect qualifications anymore. Hire inexperienced young teachers who will work for low salaries.
    And who came up with the dingelberry merit pay idea? With so many families in crisis, poverty, or plain neglectful why are we teachers are held responsible? Try to take tests when you’re thinking of your next meal, or where you are going to sleep, who your mom is doing drugs with, or if the gang violence in your neighborhood will erupt tonight? Blame teachers….? Wait till we see what the future generations are like without good educators. Go ahead, shot yourselves in the foot, you’ll be sorry and it will be too late!

  4. You people who believe that the difference or the problem is either that the state is a red state or a blue state are all lost sheep following the media of mass communication. The problem is politicians, red and blue. Self serving, vote pandering politicians who are trying to position themselves into a place of power by saying they did something about the terrible education system. It is very difficult to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat. That best describes the situation with politicians finding the problem with education…

  5. 25 years ago I began teaching elementary school students Spanish in the mountains of North Carolina. When I was transferred to teach at the high school level, I knew many of my students from years before. They graduated with an excellent near native proficiency. This was helpful to the farmers as they began to hire more and more Spanish speaking workers. The elementary school foreign language program was bold, innovative, research based, and very effective. Now I see no such innovation;we have larger class sizes and teacher pay has gone from 24th in the nation to 49th. How did this happen? Long serving public servants in the state legislature were slimed and outspent by the vandals that currently attack public education at every opportunity.

  6. No red state values education. All the top ten for education are blue states and the only “blue” state in the bottom 10 is Nevada, which is hardly a real blue state.

    In Texas they even want to make teaching critical thinking illegal. What is education, really, but critical thinking based on the facts you learn?

  7. I really wish he, and his family, the best of luck. I have been teaching in Arizona for about 8 years, and in that time, my pay has only increased by $500—and that is because I worked out-of-district for a year, so I was given a “prior experience stipend”. My district has experienced the deepest cuts in the state, although we are one of the biggest. So in the end, when I look back at my salary since 2007, without the after school teaching income (which I no longer recieve), I make about the same today, paycheck to paycheck. The only reason I do not qualify for Medicaid and food assistance is that I only have one child, and our poverty line is set pretty low. But I am barely making it. And it doesn’t seem to be getting better.
    The attitude here is “we are lucky to be working at all”. I cannot afford to go back to college and get a Master’s degree. I cannot afford another loan. I’ve been told a Master’s degree will not improve my income by more than $2,000 per year, and also does not necessarily gaurantee job security anyway.

  8. As a 17 year veteran teacher in the State of Ohio, I can tell Mr. Gable that Ohio is no bed of roses for teachers either. He will find that out once he gets here. Our governor disrespects the teachers so much that he once said they should be making what the servers at Bob Evans make. So don’t expect a lot of support from the state legislature in Ohio. I’d try to go to New England, where they actually value education.

    1. Did you compare the cost of living in New England versus Ohio or North Carolina? Not sure teachers would make much more in comparison even if the state values teachers better.

    2. More and more excellent teachers are leaving NC for greener pastures whether those pastures be in education or another career field. The bottom line is as long as our politicians are displaying their ignorance by disrespecting teachers, the profession will continue to be the last place a young person will look to enter. After 17+ years as a teacher, I am sad to see what is happening to our educational system that is being run by people who have NEVER been an educator and have no knowledge of what it takes to be a really good teacher. They are “dumbing down” all of public education and making it unfriendly to all teachers including the very best. I say to politicians: pay me a liveable wage, get the hell out of my classroom and let me do what I do best – EDUCATE OUR FUTURE!

    3. I think what is happening is terrible. New England is headed south too. This ‘race to the top’ is destroying original thinking and creativity at the age where kids need to explore the hands on aspect of education. We are told that we should teach to the test, and are so closely monitored that we are on edge all the time. When will the powers that be realize that happy teachers make happy students?

      1. I don’t think the powers that be actually care if teachers are happy or not. I think they’d rather have us miserable so that we leave and they sell out public education to their buddies running the charter schools.

        1. This is probably the right winger plan – kill public education so the private sector can take over with the added benefit of killing off the education unions who tend to support the democrats.

        2. I couldn’t agree with you more Mary and I don’t think that this is in any way a parinoid comment. No one in this day and age has the time to look into the facts that surround any issue unless those issues hit home personally. Those powers that be feed half truths and even incorrect information to their selected audiences to help push their charter school dreams. In the end I believe that for them it’s all about their desire for profit, not education, teachers or the general educational well being of children and families.

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