Teacher shortage impacting South Carolina Public Schools


COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)– Teachers are leaving the classroom and not returning to the profession at rapid rates and South Carolina is having a hard time filling in the gaps. The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement, also known as CERRA, released the state’s Annual Educator Supply and Demand Report. The report shows that more than 7,000 teachers did not return to their positions for the school year; that’s almost a 10% increase from the year before.

“Teachers can’t do it all by themselves, and they’re feeling tremendous pressure and leaving the profession because of that,” Molly Spearman said, State Superintendent of Education. 

More than 5,000 teachers are no longer teaching in any south carolina public school and 48% of teachers who left their positions had five or fewer years of experience in a public school classroom. Add on an increase in the number of teachers retiring and there is now a teacher deficit.

“You know that I’ve asked for a 5% teacher pay raise. And that’s part of the problem. Teachers need to have a competitive salary,” Spearman said.

School districts reported they have more than 600 vacant teaching positions in public schools. That is a 16% increase compared to the beginning of the 2017 school year.

“They need more help in the classroom. That’s why we’re pushing for by 2022 we have not only a school resource officer but a mental health counselor in every school and access to telepsychiatry for all of our students in South Carolina,” Spearman said.

In-state teacher preparation programs have helped. The number of new hires who graduated from a teacher prep program  increased for the first time since 2013, but the actual number of  students completing the teacher education program continues to plummet. The number of completions has dropped by 32% since 2012. Spearman says higher education institutions need to help retain students and get them through the program successfully.

“They have to help us to recruit students to their programs. And also I think, do a better job giving student teachers more experience in the classroom in varied settings. Not just in schools closest to the college but out in Title 1 schools across the state so they’re better prepared when they get to the classroom,” Spearman said.

The smaller teacher pipeline has caused districts to rely on other recruitment sources, like hiring more teachers from other countries. This year, they hired nearly 400 international teachers; whereas they only hired about 100 international teachers in 2013.

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