The South Carolina Teacher shortage is critical and getting worse. The State newspaper reports that school districts are struggling to find the talent they need. Some have resorted to bringing teachers from overseas while others just have open positions and no way of filling them.
The current open teaching positions in South Carolina are 160 vacancies in Lexington and Richland counties, 2 teacher vacancies in Beaufort county and 9 teacher vacancies in Kershaw county. There are many more, but this is all that is reported by the state. Last year, there were over 550 teacher vacancies at the start of the school year and with just two weeks left until the start of school, it looks like 2018 will be worse.
One reason is the end of the Teacher Employee Retirement Incentive Program or TERI. But this is just part of the problem. According to CERRA which has the best data on teacher shortages and production than any other state, 4,800 teachers left teaching last year and only 1,898 students graduated from higher education programs. And enrollment in educator preparation in South Carolina is down 22.4% in just 3 years.
We recently started our work in South Carolina as South Carolina Teachers of Tomorrow to provide more teachers to help alleviate this critical teaching shortage and we have over 100 candidates ready to go for this school year. But we could have so many more – we have had over 2,300 applicants but many do not qualify under existing rule. We have worked together with the South Carolina Department of Education to ensure that many more can qualify and it has helped considerably. We are pushing to implement those changes that have significantly improved the teacher pipeline.
But there are a few more things we can do:
- Allow all alternative certification programs to certify in Elementary Education since it is now a significant shortage area
- Utilize the South Carolina Praxis II subject matter tests as the sole factor in determining subject matter knowledge.
Those two simple things will definitely allow more of our extensive applicant pool to become South Carolina Teachers soon! It is a great state with some really great schools and great people who want to work in those schools. We will continue to push to make that happen!