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Teacher shortage is a South Carolina Crisis

on Tuesday, 28 August 2018. Posted in Letters to the Editor

The recent statistics on the shortage of teachers in South Carolina raise red flags on the future education of students in our schools. The rate of teachers leaving their profession is now the worst in S.C. history.

•5,000 teachers resigned their jobs for various reasons this past year.
•22% of those teachers were first year teachers.
•A 30% drop has occurred in education graduates from S.C. colleges.
•The average teacher salary in S.C. is well below the Southeastern average and is $6,000 below Georgia’s average salary.
•A $33,000 starting salary and the 1% salary increase this year by the Legislature are inadequate and not competitive in the market place.
•The elimination of the TERI program has cost schools hundreds of veteran experienced teachers.

These statistics predict a continued downward spiral that will soon adversely affect the entire economy of South Carolina. The parents of over 720,000 children in our public schools, and the business community, should be incensed. A child’s learning ability is directly related to the quality of their classroom teacher.

Why was this crisis even allowed to happen ? The Governor and the Legislature have to assume much of the responsibility for not providing adequate funding years ago that would have kept teachers’ compensation competitive. If such supportive action had been taken, these negative statistics would not even have existed. States and school districts that have had well paid teachers do not have a teacher shortage.

Better educated high school graduates yield better college graduates, yield better paying jobs, yield higher tax revenues in South Carolina. This same scenario would also greatly lessen the state’s tax burden of funding more Medicaid and food stamp recipients and the housing of prison inmates.

How can SC remedy this crisis? In order to prevent the Legislature and the Department of Education from kicking this can down the road, collaborative lobbying campaigns targeting every legislator in South Carolina should be initiated.

Teacher organizations and SCforED cannot accomplish this alone. They have to get the grassroots citizens’ support. The parents of those 720,000 children, Chambers of Commerce, and multiple education advocates must persistently lobby their local legislators until they realize that South Carolina’s citizens demand better funding of education as their top priority in 2019. It is up to everyone to get really proactive if they want a better educated South Carolina.

Carroll Player, DDS

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