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Carolina Journal Radio No. 918: New index tracks COVID-related ‘misery’

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2020 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 918: New index tracks COVID-related ‘misery’

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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December 21, 2020 8:00 am

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced both health and economic consequences. A new “misery index” attempts to document how those consequences have played out in states across the country. Joseph Coletti, John Locke Foundation senior fellow, explains why he developed the index. He explains how North Carolina compares to neighboring states and others throughout the United States. Gov. Roy Cooper set up a new bipartisan group to focus on health insurance coverage. The governor is focusing on one aspect of coverage: Medicaid expansion. But lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle want to turn attention to other issues, including relaxation of harmful government regulations. You’ll hear highlights from their comments during the group’s first meeting. Fresh off his re-election win, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., returned to Capitol Hill for a hearing on potential new regulation of Big Tech companies. You’ll hear Tillis question Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. The General Assembly could consider law enforcement reforms in 2021. But a draft report of potential reforms produced mixed reviews during a recent hearing. You’ll learn why some lawmakers are concerned that the report’s ideas would harm law enforcement. Others believe the report will lead to little positive change. North Carolina’s teacher turnover numbers continue to improve. Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation vice president for research and director of education studies, places the numbers into context.

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From Cherokee to Kuretuk, from the largest city to the smallest town, and from the statehouse to the schoolhouse, it's Carolina Journal Radio, your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most important public policy events and issues. Welcome to Carolina Journal Radio, I'm Mitch Kocai. During the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state. Governor Roy Cooper continues to push for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, but some state lawmakers want the governor's new Health Coverage Commission to consider other ideas. You'll hear their comments.

Fresh off his re-election win, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis was back on Capitol Hill questioning the leaders of big tech companies. You'll hear highlights. Some North Carolina legislators have concerns about proposed law enforcement reforms. You'll learn why they're not interested in tackling the controversial ideas in 2021. And we'll discuss some good news. It's tied to North Carolina's latest public school teacher turnover report. Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martinez joins us with the Carolina Journal headline. Pointing North Carolina to a balance between public health and economic health during this COVID-19 pandemic. That has been a goal of John Locke Foundation researchers for the better part of 2020. Joe Coletti is one of those researchers.

He is a senior fellow here at the John Locke Foundation, and he has created a new index to try to provide some more context for us as we work our way through COVID-19. Joe joins me now. Welcome back to the show. Glad to be here.

Thanks. Let's talk first about Governor Roy Cooper and this issue of balancing public health, which we obviously are in a situation where we have a public health crisis, but also people's ability and right to earn a living, et cetera. The governor doesn't really talk about that hardly ever at his news conferences. What do you make of that?

That is kind of the question that we've all been asking since all of this started. At the start of it, it made sense that public health is the first priority with everything with a new pandemic, with all the lack of information that nobody knew what was coming or how bad it was going to be. But as we've gotten through this, especially after the first two months when we could start opening the economy and other states were moving further in that direction, we started to question, well, there is the other cost of all of this. There's the cost of lost jobs.

And with the lost jobs comes the lack of treatment for other healthcare needs because we closed hospitals to elective surgeries and people have avoided doctors. And so for Governor Cooper to continue only having Mandy Cohen, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, and not have somebody from the Department of Commerce, not have somebody from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, not have somebody taking a look at any of the other aspects of what's going on, that does raise questions as to where, as to is he taking a look at this in the proper way, the same way that the rest of North Carolina and the rest of the country is. Now despite the fact that Governor Cooper and his administration don't seem to be focusing on that balance, at least not publicly, the John Locke Foundation has been committed to doing that very much for months and months now.

And Joe, you have been a key member of that team. The latest context that you have been providing to North Carolina is an index you've created and you call it the COVID-19 Misery Index. So it starts out with a negative connotation, but help us understand what you were trying to illustrate through your misery index.

Right. It's to the point of the balance between what's going on with the disease and what's going on with the economy as a proxy for everything else. Because we can't, North Carolina is only reporting deaths, is far behind in reporting excess deaths.

So we can't see what's going on on that side. But, and hospitalizations, all the other things, we can't tell what's going on. So deaths are, is the easiest thing to be able to measure and the most accurate thing to be able to measure. And comparing that with the jobs that have been lost, not the unemployment rate, but the number of jobs, because we don't know who's fallen out of the labor force. But comparing February to the current rate and taking a look at the lives that are lost, because that's a terrible thing, and taking a look at the jobs that are lost, the economic opportunity that's lost, because that's a terrible thing. And in the 1970s, back when inflation, when we had stagflation, we had the misery index there that looked at inflation plus unemployment.

And that seemed to be a good comparison here, because normally we talk about inflation versus unemployment. And if you have, and so if you combine what's happening with deaths, and the lives that are lost and the jobs that are lost, that gives you an indication of how bad the state is doing. What did you find for North Carolina? North Carolina is about in the middle, has improved actually over time, since over time, because our job picture has improved. And we're doing better than a number of other states in the South. We're about the same overall as Tennessee. Tennessee's balance actually skews a bit more to saving jobs and losing lives, and North Carolina skews a bit more towards saving lives and losing jobs. The terminology here I'm still working on, but we skew a bit more that we've lost more jobs than Tennessee, they've lost more lives in North Carolina.

But outside of that, the way that I've done this, they balance out about the same. And Joe, you said something like that the terminology is difficult. I think it's important that we let our listeners know that your intent here is not to say, oh, gee, I wish we had had more deaths and fewer job losses. You're not making any sort of judgment like that. You're just trying to illustrate that here are these two really bad things that are happening, and we need to understand exactly where we are with each.

Right. And so for North Carolina, on the job side, the jobs is about 10 times more per million people compared to the deaths. So we're at about 5,000 deaths and we're at about 5,000 deaths and about 100,000 jobs lost in North Carolina. So that's the scale that we're talking about. And to put this together, I wasn't trying to weight anything because I didn't want to have any kind of subjectiveness to this, or I was going with the simplest way to put this together to become a useful tool for others. And so I used New Jersey, which was the worst state in terms of deaths in May, and Nevada, which was the worst state in terms of jobs lost in May.

Those were my baseline of 100, and everything else kind of comes around that, and then I just add the two together. Let's talk a little bit more if we could about what you saw in the data over time as you look from month to month to month. Were things bouncing around in both metrics, or are you seeing trends? The jobs obviously continue to increase across all states, but which states are losing lives at a faster rate?

That does vary. New Jersey was terrible at the start, New York and others, but their death rate slowed down tremendously since April. North Carolina has had some acceleration in deaths, so the latest numbers I have are from October because of employment numbers. We saw that deaths were getting a little worse, and that job recovery was slowing down.

June was our best month for North Carolina, and it's in the summer into the early fall has not been as rapid of improvement on either side. Joe, you have been following those job loss numbers closely, and the associated unemployment benefit that has been given out to just hundreds of thousands of people, if not more than that, here in North Carolina. Can you give us a general sense of where we stand in terms of the numbers of people who are still living on an unemployment check? The last numbers were October, and we were down a couple hundred thousand jobs from February, and so not as rapid of recovery as we would have hoped, but given the balance of things, and that's both policy and personal behavior. A couple states have come near to recovery with jobs.

Ohio has done that, but North Carolina, we're still struggling on that side, and it's hard to know how quickly we can continue the recovery. Joe, the John Locke Foundation has also been trying to provide some context on this issue of face masks and the associated mandates from governors, including Governor Cooper, about wearing them. Can you give us a brief synopsis of what the issue is that the John Locke Foundation is trying to illustrate, analyzing the issue of face masks? The biggest thing is just what right does the governor have to mandate this, and how much of an effect does a mandate have on behavior? Because people are responding based on what they see, and that's the biggest issue that we have, and there are questions about the research that's been done as to effectiveness, and everybody understands that cloth masks aren't as effective as other things, and how are you wearing them?

All of that, that comes down to how we respond, but that all goes back to what's the point of a mandate? Joe Coletti is senior fellow here at the Locke Foundation. You can read all of his work at Joe, thank you. Thank you. Stay with us. Much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment. Tired of fake news?

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I'm Mitch Kochai. Governor Roy Cooper wants his new bipartisan commission on health care coverage to focus on Medicaid expansion. It's a goal he's been pushing for four years, but not everyone is excited about that idea. During the group's first meeting, Republican state Senator Joyce Kravitz of Forsyth County offered some other ideas. To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I saw we were starting with Medicaid expansion.

So, um, because it hasn't been such a controversial topic. Um, so I'm glad that we're, we're moving on to other things, but we also know that, um, in order to improve access, we need to find ways to reduce costs. So I was glad to hear some of those issues addressed.

Kravitz highlighted some specifics, starting with a state law that requires health care providers to get a government permission slip before adding new hospital beds or major medical equipment. The certificate of need that we've worked on, um, last session. Um, I think that's really important that we look at that.

So I hope that we'll consider, um, hope we'll consider talking more in depth about that at some point. Um, the other thing, um, we had a bill last time that we passed, um, for association health plans. Uh, it came up in the discussion that, uh, so many businesses do not provide coverage for their employees, but the association health plan opened that up. We estimated it was going to cover about another a hundred, 150,000 people in North Carolina by enabling those businesses to be able to purchase reduced insurance, uh, as a pool to go gather together, just like the big insurance companies do.

Business community was overwhelmingly behind it. Um, it's a great idea to improve coverage to a lot of those folks, particularly in some of those low wage industries. So, um, I'm looking forward to that was held up because, um, there is a court case in another state. I personally think we need to move forward with it anyway.

We have no idea when that decision is going to be made. Um, it's, it's just prohibiting a lot of people from getting the coverage that they could get. I was glad to see us talk about telehealth and how we can improve that. Um, we've seen how beneficial it's been during COVID. Um, so I'm hoping that, um, you know, we'll, we'll hear a little more about that and find some ways that we can, that we can do that. Uh, also hope we'll talk about, uh, recognizing out of state licenses for providers.

So it makes it easier for them to come here and practice to not have to go through. Many states have done this and I think we can do it safely and we can do it, um, we can do it right. So I think that would help as far as, uh, increasing providers. I also want to see us look into state reinsurance plans. I don't know how many of you are familiar with that, but other states are doing it.

Uh, it does take a waiver, um, to enable that, but, um, it, I think it's, um, I think it's worth pursuing. Kravitz also mentioned an interest in hearing from some other voices. I was also a little bit disappointed that we didn't include, uh, one of our, um, one of our most well-known, um, health policy think tanks in North Carolina, the Locke Foundation. And maybe that was just an oversight, but they're constantly coming up with ideas for health policy. You're listening to comments from the first meeting of a new group. Governor Roy Cooper set it up to consider ideas about boosting healthcare access and coverage in North Carolina.

Republican Representative Donnie Lambeth followed up on Senator Joyce Kravitz's remarks. I think this is a very broad topic, quite frankly, and I am a little disappointed we spent so much time just on expansion. Uh, but telemedicine is a integral part of, of, uh, meeting access needs, particularly in rural North Carolina.

Uh, I hear a lot about the difficulty that rural access issues because they can't recruit physicians, they can't recruit nurses, they can't recruit nurse practitioners, uh, and whether there ought to be programs such as loan forgiveness, incentives to get caregivers to go into some of these difficult survey areas. Um, and I can go on and on with topics that I think are very important for access and to improve access. And I, I think many of those that Senator Crawlick mentioned are important that we look at as well. Um, so I think there's a lot we can talk about and can in fact improve on, you know, expansion of broadband to enable telehealth. Um, so actually I think this is a good topic for us to kick around a little bit, see if there's something that good can come out of it.

Republican Representative Donna White of Johnston County chimed in. We really need to address the issue of scope of practice. Uh, each discipline should be able to, each health practitioner should be able to function at their current state of scope of practice without so much regulation that has nothing to do with their, their abilities and their scope of practice. So I think that that is one of the issues that we really need to put the top of the list to discuss because that would certainly increase access to a lot of the rural communities. Republicans aren't the only ones interested in removing some unnecessary regulatory barriers. Democratic Representative Carla Cunningham followed up the comments about scope of practice. Looking at that advanced practice for our physician assistants, nursing methodists and our nurse practitioners, when the ACA was created for it to be done, it included that those individuals that have advanced practice would be able to fulfill the gap where primary care physicians weren't available because of the short turnaround for them to become active in our communities.

But I don't want to get stuck on that and CON is another issue. But also is as we're going forward to look at the needs of the people of North Carolina, where are we going to be once COVID settles down? The expectation of the increase in mental health needs, the expectation of long haulers surviving and more people becoming disabled and unable to work that will fall into the Medicaid or fall to Medicaid and Medicare.

The trajectory, we still don't know. So I think the data is being collected. We don't know yet the suicide rate increase uptick, possibly because the data is just not available. But we do know that domestic violence increase. We do know that child abuse increase. Those all have impacts on the health care.

I say if you can't breathe, you can't read. And I think that is the aspect that I'm in as far as providing a health care for the people of the state. They are struggling now, but they will be struggling more as the coming months and the data is revealed. And so I would like to see us try to bring everything to the table that support us moving forward, moving forward in how we assist the citizens of North Carolina and the entire state becoming a more healthy state. Another Democratic Representative Gail Adcock wants to hear from businesses. Increasing access to health insurance is a workforce support. So I think that is something that we could really hear about from those businesses themselves, what they feel would be most helpful to them. And then I do want to add that I do believe our state has an opportunity to look at other changes, other kinds of reforms that will support whatever plan or plans we come up with to increase access to health insurance. And one of those is to allow the entire health care workforce to work within their full licensure so that we can really take advantage of deploying our entire workforce.

And that is because our physician colleagues are doing valiant work and just cannot do it all themselves. State Health Secretary Mandy Cohen is listening. I want to thank Senator Kravik in particular for outlining a number of issues that I would like to bring into the discussion here, as well as making sure that, you know, actually inviting someone from John Locke to potentially present.

I know they have a number of ideas and then we really need that marketplace of ideas on coverage. That's State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen wrapping up the first meeting of a new group looking into health care access and coverage issues for North Carolina. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. If you love freedom, we've got great news to share with you. Now you can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place. North Carolina Conservative dot com. It's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement. At North Carolina Conservative dot com, you'll find links to John Locke Foundation blogs on the day's news, Carolina Journal dot com reporting and quick takes, Carolina Journal radio interviews, TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke Foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, commentary and polling data from the Civitas Institute, and news and views from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

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I'm Mitch Kocai. Fresh off his reelection to the U.S. Senate, Republican Thom Tillis returned to Capitol Hill to question the CEOs of big tech companies, specifically Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter. Tillis focused on big tech's possible role in pushing a particular political agenda.

Mr. Zuckerberg, you mentioned you didn't think there was a systematic coordination between Google and Twitter, but you could conceive of how people in similar professions may have a discussion, have a relationship, maybe talk about it over a beer. So could you see how the skeptic could see how these platforms could be used across platforms to force certain outcomes? Let's say you had 100 people at Facebook, 100 people at Twitter, and 100 people at Google that all had a political bent. They get together, they share notes, and then they go back and make decisions that could make it appear like it's a corporate initiative, but it could be an initiative by maybe some well-intentioned but misguided staff.

Could you at least conceive of that being possible? Senator, I understand the concern, and I think that coordination, specifically on writing the policies or enforcement decisions, could be problematic in the way that you're saying, which is why I really wanted to make sure that it was clear that what we do is share signals around potential harms that we're seeing, whether it's specific content in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that people are trying to share virally, so that way if one platform is seeing it, another platform can be prepared that it will probably see that content soon too, signals around foreign interference in elections. But I think it's quite important that each company deals with those signals in the way that is in line with their own policies, and that I think is very different from saying that the companies are kind of coordinating to kind of figure out what the policy should be. I understand what the concern would be around that, and that's why I wanted to be clear about what we do and don't do there.

I agree with that. I would find it horribly irresponsible to think that this was some sort of a systematic approach across the platforms, but just with the sheer numbers of people that you all employ now, I could see how some of what's been suggested here in the hearing could actually occur with just small groups of people trying to manipulate certain outcomes. That's North Carolina's recently re-elected U.S. Senator Tom Tillis. Within a couple of weeks of the election, he was back on Capitol Hill for a high-profile hearing.

He questioned big tech CEOs about their companies' roles in pushing particular partisan political agendas. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. We're doubling down on freedom.

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I'm Mitch Kocut. A special State House committee has been looking into issues linked to community relations, law enforcement and justice in North Carolina. It's safe to say the ideas put forward in a draft report are drawing a mixed response.

Republican Representative Keith Kidwell started a recent review of the report with a list of concerns. Kidwell started with questions about a proposal to compile law enforcement agencies use of force. Your version of use of force may differ from my version of use of force. In speaking with the sheriff just a while ago this morning, you know, somebody grabbing me by the elbow and asking me to step in a certain direction could be viewed as a use of force there by would that require to be reported.

So that's that would be my very first concern. Quite honestly, when I read through this report and I get down to the bottom, we have numerous situations down here where it would appear in many cases we just want to throw law enforcement to the wind and why bother with it. Let's let's not cooperate with ICE. Eliminating cash bail. I mean, I could go on and on with this requiring written consent to search a vehicle in a traffic stop. You know, maybe next time we could start just having lawyers ride along in the back of the police cars and, you know, let them deal with their Miranda rights there on the street beyond just a verbal communication that says that they can use that they can search a vehicle.

Ending employment at will. Here's a situation where law enforcement, particularly your sheriffs and police chiefs, have to have a level of confidence in the officers and deputies that serve with them. And if they don't have that confidence, they should have the ability to terminate those people without getting into a whole lot of detail. I think it out of all the jobs we have in this country, that's probably one that certainly needs to be at will. Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences.

You know, this is not even that old of a law that we we put into effect throughout the United States because people were getting away with crimes and judges were being too lenient on how they would be handled. Eliminating school resource officers. Sure, we could maybe have our very own Parkland shooting here in North Carolina. That'd be a great idea. You know, that might work in some areas.

It might not work in other areas. That is certainly something that needs to be left up to the local communities, not the General Assembly. That's a decision that has to be thought out, implemented and paid for by local taxpayers. So we will be sending down an unfunded liability if we forced them to do it. And we may be taking away something they want if we say you can't do it. Eliminating felony murder. Somebody gets murdered in the act of a crime and we don't want to charge them with murder. That doesn't make sense.

I could go on and on. I won't. There's there's too many areas in this to say, you know, what are we thinking with this? If this report was to be submitted as it stands, my vote would certainly be a no. That's State Representative Keith Kidwell explaining his concerns about a draft legislative report on community relations, law enforcement and justice.

Republican Representative John Zoka co-chairs the committee that drafted the report. He responded to the concerns. We all know that no General Assembly can hold a future General Assembly to anything. So we can't say that we're going to turn this into a law. Any members here will be returning or new members could certainly look at these recommendations and submit some legislation. The purpose of this was to look at a variety of different issues which led to social unrest and inequity and certain things that happen in our country. And we want to make sure that we looked at those things or those issues that were applied in North Carolina. And if there were some of those things that we would make, in fact, recommendations on how perhaps that we as a as a body could recommend to the next General Assembly that they focus on certain things, as Representative Kidwell pointed out, that was not an intent. That was just in a spirit of inclusion of all different points of view of the committee to make note of all the things that were brought forward by all members of the committee.

That wasn't saying that we support or not support any one of those. If you also recall, the makeup of the committee was intentional with Republicans, that's members, with members of the general public, with members of our law enforcement community, with members of DAs, experts in various things, so that we would get a wide viewpoint of where we were in the state. From a personal viewpoint, there's a lot of things I learned here that I didn't know about our state law, and hopefully other people learned a lot of things as well. I think the purpose of the committee and the purpose of this document is so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel, if you will, going forward into the next legislative session where we're saying, well, what happened and what are we going to do about it?

And then we have to repeat all this work. So these are also rank ordered in the terms of your votes as committee members. And personally, I didn't vote on this as a chair. I wanted to know what the committee thought on this.

Like the first one had either 12 or 14 votes, and it went from that all the way down to either one vote or no votes for some of those things. So this was a, not necessarily a consensus, but it was a rank ordered view of committee members from varied backgrounds and experience levels on what we think we should recommend to make it easier for the next convening legislature to address. We are trying to point the way and send the signal that we have looked at this in detail.

Democratic representative Amos quick of Guilford County offered a different perspective. The general assembly recognized that something must be done and to go back with a pen and paper exercise and say, well, we looked at it, but there's nothing that we can do. I think that would be a misappropriation of our time, of our efforts, of our energy and of the collective wisdom and intellect that is in this room. I also will say that a bill can be introduced, but that doesn't mean it's going to get a hearing. It doesn't mean it's going to get a vote.

It means that a bill will be introduced. And unless there's some, excuse me, collective will from this committee to push those things along, then this will turn into a pen and paper exercise. And it will be a disappointment to a state that we have announced that we're doing this work. And if we go back to the citizens of the state of North Carolina and say, well, we looked at it, but nothing's going to change. I think that would be a dereliction of our duty. Retiring Republican representative Craig Horn of Union County chimed in. I think we've done exactly what we were asked to do, which is to bring forth concerns of the citizenry, concerns of law enforcement, concerns of all the folks that impact all of these greater issues that resulted from a period of significant unrest and dissatisfaction across our state. So I think we have done exactly that. In light of us being a select committee that wasn't necessarily established to create or recommend legislation, albeit I know we can, it appears to me that we can do that, but we also know that we've got everything here, including this kitchen sink, when it comes to the breadth and depth of issues surrounding the very title of our committee on community relations, law enforcement and justice.

That's state representative Craig Horn, one of the speakers during a recent meeting of a special state house committee. It was set up to look into important issues linked to community relations, law enforcement and justice. We'll return with more Carolina Journal radio in a moment. Real influence.

You either have it or you don't. And at the John Locke Foundation, we have it. You'll find our guiding principles in many of the freedom forward reforms of the past decade here in North Carolina. So while others talk or complain or name call, we provide research solutions and hope. Our team analyzes the pressing issues of the day, jobs, health care, education and more. We look for effective ways to give you more freedom, more options, more control over your life. Our goal is to transform North Carolina into a growing, thriving economic powerhouse, the envy of every other state. Our research has helped policymakers make decisions that ensure you keep more of what you earn, expand your choice of schools for your kids, widen your job opportunities, improve your access to doctors. The recipe for stability and a bright future for truth, for freedom, for the future of North Carolina. We are the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal radio.

I'm Donna Martinez. North Carolina teachers are choosing to stay in their jobs. That is the analysis of the John Locke Foundation's Terry Stoops, our education expert, who writes that we really should be pleased that the statewide teacher attrition rate is dropping. He says not only does that mitigate turnover costs, but it also suggests that the investments made by the Republican led General Assembly are beginning to pay off. Terry Stoops joins me now. Terry, welcome back to the show.

Thank you. The narrative over a number of years now has been that teachers are fleeing North Carolina in droves because they don't like the Republicans leading the General Assembly. But this latest data from the state shows a pretty different story the last several years.

Yeah, that's right. And the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is required to publish a report called the State of the Teaching Profession every year and submit it to the General Assembly. And this report, which was redesigned about five years ago, provides details about very basic details about teacher attrition and mobility. Attrition being teachers that leave the profession and mobility teachers that move from one job in public school to another.

And really, attrition is what the focus should be. And when you look over the last five years, teacher attrition has fallen significantly in North Carolina. Five years ago, we had an attrition rate of nine percent. And the last school year, it reached 7.53 percent. So that is a 1.5 percentage point drop in teacher attrition. And that is an amazing, amazing feat to be able to retain more teachers in just a span of five years is really, really a significant turn of events. Does the report give any insight about why the teachers are leaving or why they left?

Very basic insights. The teachers self-report using existing categories to describe why they're leaving. So if they left their position to get a teaching job in another state, for example, if they left due to some other family circumstance or if they're moving or if their Teach for America term has expired, there's categories for each of these. And just as in every other year, the highest proportion of teachers that leave the profession are those that retire, either with full or partial benefits. Typically, about a quarter of the teachers that leave the profession in a given year retire. And one may say, well, there's not much we can do about that as the state. If a teacher wants to retire, they can retire. And so the focus really should be on those categories of attrition that the state may be able to do something about. And these are teachers that are dissatisfied with their job or are leaving their job for some other type of work.

That's not always a bad thing. Sometimes teaching is a bad fit for some folks, so we'd want them to go explore other opportunities. But there are times where teachers leave the profession and they were otherwise outstanding teachers and if given the right incentives would have stayed in their position, but unfortunately decided to leave. I take it then that in this state report, there's no box that a teacher can check to say, I don't like the Republicans in the General Assembly, so I'm leaving the profession.

Nothing like that, even though we have seen and heard that narrative for a number of years now. Okay, so that's attrition. You mentioned early on the issue of mobility, teachers moving from one district to another district within our state. Is that prevalent?

Not really. And mobility really needs to be understood in terms of school districts competing for talent. And that's really what we want as a state is that school districts should be competing for talent and trying to create the conditions necessary to recruit the best teachers to their district. We often look down upon a district like Wake, which is able to pay its teachers more than, say, surrounding districts in Johnson or Harnett County. But we want this constant push and pull for districts because we want them to compete for that very small pool of talent that sometimes exists for certain areas.

So we're looking at about a 4% rate of mobility, and that's been pretty consistent across the years. So mobility isn't a big part of what happens with teachers in a given year. There are districts that complain about mobility because there are costs associated with mobility. Obviously, you do have to find a new teacher to replace the one, but there is no cost to the state in the sense that a teacher is leaving the profession altogether. Speaking of costs, you write in your piece, which folks can read at, about the attrition that when it's lower, that helps to mitigate the cost because teaching is like any other industry. Frankly, when someone leaves, you have all of that knowledge loss that goes with them. You have to hire someone, retrain them, et cetera.

And I don't often hear a lot of discussion of that. Talk a little bit about those costs associated with the teacher leaving. Yeah, well, the costs vary significantly. So if you're replacing a teacher with someone that's just out of university, the cost is going to be much higher because there's additional training that needs to occur. Then if you have a seasoned teacher moving from one school district to another or moving from one state into North Carolina.

So the costs vary significantly. And that cost is really borne by the school districts. There's no good calculation right now to determine how much they cost that they actually bear for recruitment of new teachers, for training new teachers.

So there's not a good estimate that I could give, but districts would probably be good to report that data if they did have it to talk about what some of the costs are. Now, one of the benefits to attrition is the fact that the teachers leaving are typically and we don't have it in this report, but they're typically of lower quality than the teachers that stay in the profession. We know from analysis done by the Department of Public Instruction that the growth scores of teachers that leave the profession in North Carolina are typically lower than those that stay in the profession. And so the cost to replace that teacher is borne by the school district, but the students may actually benefit by having a bad teacher leave the district, leaves the profession and be presumably replaced with a better one.

Terry, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly has for a number of years now been focusing intently on K-12 education in all sorts of different ways, policy decisions as well as things like teacher pay, increasing teacher pay multiple times. Give us a sense of how teachers have improved on their pay and benefits over the past half dozen years or so. Well, we've seen significant increases in teacher pay. The average teacher pay has increased by around 21 percent since 2014. And benefits are increasing right along with it. So we're seeing significant increases in pay and benefits. And this is what always gets me about this report when it comes out, is that if I was a member of the opposition, if I was a Democrat or a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators, I would say, look, our attrition rate is decreasing because teacher pay keeps going up. And I would be making that connection, even though, you know, we would have to do more research to determine whether there really is a connection between teacher pay and the attrition rate. But that's not what they say, of course. So we can assume that one of the reasons why teachers are staying in the profession is because increased pay. The report doesn't necessarily point to that.

But I think it's a pretty good idea about why a lot of teachers decide to stay in North Carolina public schools. Terry, thanks for joining us to talk about it. Thank you.

That's all the time we have for the program this week. Thank you for listening. On behalf of my co-host, Mitch Gokai, I'm Donna Martinez. Hope you'll join us again next week for more Carolina Journal Radio. Carolina Journal Radio is a program of the John Locke Foundation. To learn more about the John Locke Foundation, including donations that support programs like Carolina Journal Radio, send email to development at or call 1-866-JLF-INFO.

That's 1-866-553-4636. Carolina Journal Radio is a co-production of the John Locke Foundation, North Carolina's free market think tank, and Carolina Broadcasting System, Incorporated. All opinions expressed on this program are solely those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of advertisers or the station. For more information about the show or other programs and services of the John Locke Foundation, visit or call us toll free at 1-866-JLF-INFO. We'd like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across North Carolina and our sponsors. From all of us at Carolina Journal Radio, thank you for listening and please join us again next week.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-13 07:44:10 / 2024-01-13 08:01:11 / 17

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