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One state lawmaker wants to give public school teachers pay increases

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By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- A state lawmaker wants to put more money in the pockets of South Carolina teachers, boosting their salaries by more than nine thousand dollars.

Democratic state senator Darrell Jackson says the Palmetto State gets an 'F' for teacher pay. If a bill he's sponsoring becomes law, public school teachers could get a raise of up to one thousand dollars over five years.

That's the homework assignment Jackson says he's been working on for a year; for the first time in recent history, raise teachers' salaries from failing to excelling.

"Our goal is to recruit and retain the best teachers possible and stop losing teachers to other states," said Jackson.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average salary for teachers nationwide in school year 2010-11 was $56, 069. Full time public school teachers in South Carolina are expected to earn, on average, this year, $47, 050, according to the the State Department of Education.

The bi-partisan legislation led by Jackson has the support of five democrats and four republicans. The measure would phase in the increase over five years to bring the state average up to the national average.

That proposal is getting high marks from educators we spoke with.

"For us to get quality teachers we need to offer good salaries," said Jill Sinclair, an educator.

"If the raise doesn't go through students will hurt in the long run," said Melanie Letts, an educator.

The bill is before the education committee and hearings could be held to discuss the issue soon. The final decision rests in the hands of the governor.

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