Some worry about upcoming loss of NC Teaching Fellows program - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Loss of NC Teaching Fellows program causes concerns

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

In this year's budget, lawmakers failed to restore funding for a unique program that brings in new teachers by the hundreds to North Carolina.

The funding for the N.C. Teaching Fellows program was cut in 2011, but those in the program were grandfathered in until 2015.

Once those students graduate in the next year or two, the program is gone.

"I feel like it's not a profession that's valued as much as it should be," said Elizabeth Townsend who is getting a scholarship from the program.

Townsend is about to give this state a multi-year commitment as part of the program.

"They give me a good size scholarship and in return I have to teach for four years in a public school in North Carolina," she said. 

Since its inception in 1986, the program has given this state a steady supply of teachers and ones who stay.

"I have had teaching fellow graduates who teach 14, 15, 16—even 23 years since the first class graduated," said Jo Ann Norris, who is President Public School Forum of North Carolina which oversees the Fellows program.

With funding for the program cut, Townsend is in the last group that'll enter N.C. classrooms.

She thinks that's bad for kids.

"A lot of kids are going to miss out on having teachers that were well prepared through the program," Townsend said.

And in a time of a tough economy with this state offering some of the lowest teacher salaries in the country, some are fearful about where this state's new teachers will come from.

"It's not best time to try and recruit teachers in North Carolina," said Norris.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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