S.C. task force explore ways to recruit and retain teachers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – S.C. General Assembly is searching for better ways to support teachers across the state. The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Task Force has been working to bring back ideas to lawmakers.

A survey on working conditions was sent to rural teachers in the state to better identify what areas they need support. South Carolina Superintendent of Education-elect Ellen Weaver says the findings are not new issues but there is a new sense of urgency to address them through this task force. 

“The way that we have been preparing teachers, the way that we have structured our system may have worked a hundred years ago but it’s not sufficient for the realities of today,” says Weaver. 

The initial findings from the survey show rural teachers want more planning time, feedback from leadership, support with student behavior, and class size reduction or better student to teacher ratio. Former State Superintendent of Education Barbara Nielsen says the state has seen the consequences of not listening to teachers. 

“Well I think you see it, the teachers are leaving. You’ve heard this morning that they feel isolated. They may not feel appreciated,” says Nielsen. 

The task force says studies show many new teachers leave the field within the first five years and many are minorities. 

“It’s particularly hard working in a rural community where you might be the only African American teacher in the school,” says Mark Manigo, who is a member of the task force and represents the S.C. Alliance of Black School Educators.

Resolution strategies were discussed among task force members including more planning time for teachers, meetings to address student behavior, and professional development opportunities.

“Make sure those teachers have the support and understanding and resources to keep them in the classroom, particularly those young people right out of college,” says Manigo. 

Nielsen says later this year in May there will be a report documenting every survey and suggestion. “My message to teachers is don’t feel like we’re not going to use this. So many times people survey them, so many times we get the results back and nothing gets done. I can assure you with the last bone in my body we are going to use this this year and I feel good because we have the commitment of the policy makers.”  

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