SC Education Association concerned about teacher openings across state

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 4:52 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment Retention and Advancement reported more than one thousand teacher vacancies across the state and the end of last school year. That number has the South Carolina Education Association concerned about what classrooms will look like this fall.

Sherry East, the South Carolina Education Association President, says teacher turnover is a problem she’s been bringing up for years, and this year looks like no exception.

East says she and other members of the association are attending new teacher orientations across the state and hearing about lots of openings, that haven’t been filled as of August.

“So we were very concerned with that number then, because we knew a lot of teachers were holding out until June, and they were going to quit. We were hearing as a lot of our members saying that they weren’t coming back. We’ve been out in the field orientation last couple of weeks that we’re hearing for the normal numbers that are out there,” East says.

Last fall, the annual recruitment and retention report cited more than one thousand vacancies and the number stayed that high in the spring report update as well.

East says that means, throughout the year, substitutes and administrative staff would often fill in to get through the day. East spent August 1st in Aiken County at a teacher orientation.

Charleston County and Berkeley County Schools currently have vacancies posted for substitute teachers for the upcoming school year on Kelly Education Services.

In Berkeley County the district is currently are trying to fill 132 Teacher Vacancies and 10 Teacher assistant Vacancies. To become a Substitute teacher you need a High School Diploma with additional training. The pay is based on your highest level of education. A High School Diploma earns $130 a day, 60 college credit hours earns $150 a day and a certified teacher earns $175 a day.

Kat Low is the President of the Berkeley County Education Association chapter. She echoes East in her thoughts on the shortage as a problem that grew over time.

“It has been a number of years now that teachers have been basically leaving the workforce and we don’t have the teachers to fill those positions, you know, and on top of that, in areas like our Tri County, Dorchester, Berkeley in Charleston, you know, we have to remember that we are growing so we’re a growing population. We need more teachers than we’ve ever needed before,” Low says.

Delegates approved the South Carolina Education Association goals for 2023 in the last week of July. It has goals of fully funding public schools, providing competitive compensation, improving recruitment and retention, increase learning time and invest in school safety.

Advocates with South Carolina Education Association says the teacher shortage across the state is rooted in the state funding level.

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