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Teachers should be expected to meet higher standards than the minimum that states require, former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt told a group of prospective teachers earlier this week.

But along with the higher expectations they should get greater recognition and more pay for their work, he said.``We may see the day when people think it's just as important to hire good teachers as to hire good basketball coaches,' he said.

Hunt spoke at Stewart Theater on the N.C. State University campus to about 150 teaching fellows, about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is developing a board-certification program to recognize outstanding teachers.

The teaching fellows are high-achieving North Carolina students who are awarded college scholarships of $5,000 per year on the condition that they spend one year teaching for each year of the scholarship.

``You're heading for a calling that, in the whole scheme of things, is more important than a lawyer or a doctor,' Hunt said. ``But it's going to be hard to keep that sense of the importance of being a teacher with you as you go through life.'

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