News & Events

Mars Hill University Hosts Former Governor Jim Hunt for the University Lecture Series

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Former Gov. Hunt with leaders of the MHU Student Government Association: Meagan McNeely, Bill Barrett, Kiel Bollero, Octavia Stancil

Raising North Carolina teacher salaries to the national average is one of the primary issues the General Assembly should undertake to improve education in the state, according to a lecture by former Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., on the campus of Mars Hill University on Tuesday.

Hunt spoke to a crowd of about 250 people, many of whom were teachers and administrators from local school districts, as well as students, faculty, and staff from the university.

North Carolina currently ranks 46th in the nation for teacher pay, Hunt said. Low teacher pay within the state often means that many teachers choose to leave the state to pursue their careers. He complimented the current leadership in Raleigh for working to raise salaries for beginning teachers, but said that veteran teachers who have given their lives to teaching North Carolina’s children should also be paid at the national average.

“We want to pay enough so that the good teachers don’t go across the state line,” he said.

Hunt recounted bipartisan efforts during his fourth term to raise teacher pay, resulting in the state rising from 44th in the nation in teacher salaries to 20th. In the years that followed, he said, teachers who had left to teach elsewhere “flocked” back to the state to teach, and SAT scores rose 40 points.

Other issues that Hunt addressed were school vouchers and additional salary increases for teachers with advanced degrees.

“We need to pay for excellence,” Hunt said. “I think every teacher who gets a master’s degree ought to get more pay.”

Hunt also said that school vouchers take money away from the public schools, which belong to everyone.

“We should not be supporting policies in North Carolina that encourage families to leave our public schools through vouchers,” he said.

If the people of North Carolina want quality schools, they need to be willing to tell their legislators and they need to be willing to pay for them, Hunt said.

Hunt’s lecture was part of the Mars Hill University Lecture Series, which brings distinguished and knowledgeable individuals to the university campus to lecture on a wide range of timely and timeless topics which complement the university’s emphasis on the liberal arts. Hunt is the second lecturer in the series’ inaugural year.