CARY, N.C. -- State education leaders and lawmakers are working to address North Carolina’s shortage of high quality teachers, something they’re calling a crisis.


More than 200 people gathered in Cary on Tuesday for the UNC Board of Governors Education Summit.


“We can do better, and we must do better,” said UNC System President Tom Ross.


“We have a crisis in North Carolina,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair John Fennebresque. “The number of students seeking a career in teaching in our system, 4,300 is significantly inadequate to meet the demand, [and] 10,900, that's a crisis.”


UNC System data compiled by SAS shows that the number of college students in education majors dropped 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. 


Over the past five years, the number of college students studying to become teachers in North Carolina has dropped nearly 27 percent.


Members of the UNC Board of Governors, university leaders within the UNC System, the State Board of Education and lawmakers gathered to talk about ways to address the crisis, by recruiting, training and retaining high quality teachers in North Carolina.


“This is not just about money,” Fennebresque said. “That helps [but] it's about respect, appreciation and celebration.”


Education leaders are recommending more accountability for teacher training programs, better preparation for the teaching profession focusing on more training time in the classroom before becoming a teacher and improved support for new teachers.


“Teaching conditions, teacher preparations, and salaries; it matters,” said Ellen McIntyre, dean of the College of Education at UNC-Charlotte.


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