Only three states are expected to spend less per student than North Carolina in the current school year, according to the latest rankings from the National Education Association.
North Carolina's per pupil spending for the 2012-13 school year is estimated at $8,433 with only Texas, Utah and Arizona spending less per student. The U.S. average is $11,068.
The state also ranks No. 48 in teacher salary among the 50 states and District of Columbia in the current school year, paying an average $45,947. Only Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Dakota pay less. The U.S. average is $56,383.
Both rankings in per pupil spending and average teacher salary represent a decline in the NEA rankings from the previous year. North Carolina spent $8,492 per student in the 2011-2012 school year and paid an average teacher salary of $46,605.
The National Education Association is a national group representing teachers that advocates for more education spending. Rodney Ellis, president the N.C. Association of Educators, said the fall in the rankings is distressing. "Now the average North Carolina teacher earns nearly $3,000 less per year and it is hurting our state's ability to hire and retain quality educators," he said in a statement.
Ellis is calling for N.C. lawmakers to put more resources into education. "Our children deserve a public education system that values the best and brightest educators and will work to recruit and retain talent in our classrooms," he said.
The report also carries political ramifications, as it is often cited in campaigns. One hot-button issue from the 2012 election addressed in the report is the number of teachers and instructional staff in North Carolina. Democrats criticized Republicans for cutting the total number of teachers.
Since the 2011-2012 school year, the first full term under Republican control, the number of teachers and instructional staff fell from the previous year.
In the 2010-11 school year, the state had 94,879 teachers and a total of 110,181 instructional staff (which includes teachers). In the 2011-12 school year, the state had 93,964 teachers and 108,869 total instructional staff.
For the current school year, North Carolina is estimated to have 93,062 teachers and 107,580 total instructional staff.