Teaching jobs on the rise in South Carolina

According to a recent report, the number of teaching vacancies has increased by more than 50% compared to last school year.

COLUMBIA, SC — A new report from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) is about leaders in public education.

South Carolina had more than a thousand teaching vacancies at the start of the school year: a 50% increase from last year.

1,062 teaching positions were vacant at the start of this school year, the highest number of vacant positions recorded by CERRA for 20 years.

The statistics are troublesome for educators like Patrick Kelly of the Palmetto State Teachers Association.

“That means every child assigned to one of these classrooms is missing out on the most important educational resource they could have, which is a high-quality teacher,” Kelly said.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said Wednesday that the report also affected her and that she was doing “everything she could” to speak up.

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The report is a snapshot of South Carolina’s growing teacher shortage crisis. Moreover, it is not just a lack of teachers that schools have problems with. Kelly explained that “schools’ failure to fill critical positions, from teachers to psychologists to bus drivers and substitutes,” is causing disruption to student learning.

Vacancies include counselors, librarians and psychologists. This is a 50% increase in vacancies from last school year and 88% from two years ago. Along with the shortage of teachers, a shortage of school bus drivers has resulted in longer journeys and delays for children to get to school.

Kelly suggested districts use federal funding to ease some burdens.

“South Carolina schools have received more than $3 billion in COVID relief dollars from the federal government over the past year,” he added.

He also urged the general assembly to make retention and recruitment a priority next year. Superintendent Spearman agreed:

“I’ve already met with lawmakers, we’re asking for a 2.5% pay raise for teachers next year, and we’re doing everything we can to support the education industry,” Spearman told reporters.

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One positive statistic: Schools hired more than 7,000 teachers, an 11% increase from last year. Spearman said it showed the districts are trying to fill the void.

Efforts in the Midlands include offering sign-up bonuses and raising salaries for teachers and bus drivers.

Many districts have vacancies posted on their websites for people to apply.

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