Letter: Education is in crisis

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’m alarmed and highly concerned about the state of education, both locally and beyond. My son starts third grade in Asheville City Schools at the end of August, and as of this writing, his teacher assignment is “to be determined.”

I’ve heard similar stories across North Carolina and the U.S. about teacher shortages, unprecedented public school vacancies and the lack of candidates to fill these critical positions. School districts are forced to make drastic decisions, including hiring unlicensed individuals and increasing class sizes, that decrease the quality of education. This couldn’t come at a worse time, when kids still haven’t recovered academically or socially/emotionally from the pandemic.

We have to value our teachers who are tired, underpaid and caught in the crosshairs of a contentious cultural and political climate. We must provide adequate training, make lasting investments in public education and build support for teaching as a viable profession. North Carolina has failed to do this time and time again, repeatedly ranking in the lowest tier in the nation for teacher pay (around $12,000 below the national average).

On average, teacher salaries in North Carolina decreased during the pandemic, and with the cost of housing skyrocketing in Asheville and the surrounding area, how can we hope to recruit and retain talent to ensure our kids have access to the equitable and quality education they deserve?

— Sarah Marcinko


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