New data shows SC educators leaving profession behind, mass shortage
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thursday morning the the 2022 South Carolina Educator Supply and Demand Report shows South Carolina’s teacher shortage is getting worse.
The report found over 1,400 unfilled educator jobs at the start of the 2022 school year, a 39% increase. This is up from 1,000 from the same time last year and more than double from two years ago.
Districts across the state reported having 500 fewer educator positions overall, a statistic showing the difficulties in hiring for existing jobs. One in seven educators in SC did not return to teaching in the same public school district.
The Palmetto State Teachers Association issued a statement in response to Thursday’s report:
“The release of the 2022-23 South Carolina Annual Educator Supply and Demand Report paints a troubling portrait of growing educator shortages across the state.
For the fourth consecutive year, the report shows a startling increase in the number of educator vacancies. The 1,474 vacant positions at the start of this school year is the most ever reported, representing a 39% increase in the number of vacancies compared to the start of last school year.
This increase is especially notable because South Carolina’s traditional and charter school districts reported 562 fewer educator positions this school year. In effect, the educator shortage grew even as the total number of positions in schools declined.
While the scale of the educator shortage is readily apparent in the total number of vacancies and departures, the impact of shortages is best understood through the stories of individuals affected by those numbers.
For the individual student, shortages mean roadblocks to realizing their full academic potential due to inconsistent access to the highly qualified educators shown by research to be the biggest in-school influence on academic performance.
For the individual educator, shortages mean increased burnout and fatigue as a result of the larger class sizes and lost planning time caused by unfilled positions.
For the individual school administrator, shortages mean being stretched to the breaking point in schools confronting a multitude of threats and challenges without sufficient human resources.
For the individual family, shortages can mean exhaustion while desperately searching for help for children attending schools that lack the numbers of school counselors, psychologists, and social workers necessary to address a growing mental health crisis.
In the face of this impact, it is imperative for state and local leaders to take the actions necessary to slow the number of departing teachers and increase the number of aspiring educators. In order to ensure students are successful and safe, schools must first be fully staffed by highly qualified individuals.
The persistent growth of vacant positions has a multiplier effect on concerns in areas like curriculum, instruction, achievement, mental health, and safety. Some leaders have already demonstrated their commitment to prioritizing efforts to reverse educator shortages, most notably Speaker of the House Smith and the other legislative leaders that pushed for the creation of the new Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement Task Force.
Given the urgency of the growing shortages, it is time for other elected officials to follow their lead. Doing so requires policy action, but it also requires leaders- especially members of local school boards- to be supportive of professional educators, not adversarial. This starts with valuing, respecting, and honoring educator expertise and concerns.
PSTA has provided a comprehensive policy roadmap for reversing educator shortages in the 2023 R.E.A.C.H. Policy Agenda. No single policy can solve this problem, but progress can be made by providing more competitive pay, expanded benefits like paid leave for new parents, improved working conditions, increased scholarships for pre-service educators, and investments in more robust educator preparation programs and mentoring support for new teachers. To learn more about these proposals, visit tinyurl.com/REACHAgenda.”
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