YORK COUNTY, S.C. — A new report released by the “Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement" shows a 39 percent increase in teacher vacancies in South Carolina at the start of this school year.
From last school year to this school year, teacher departures increased by 20%. According to the report, the 2022-2023 school year started with 1,474 teacher vacancies compared to 1,063 the previous year.
The state has tried different things to combat the shortage, including raising starting pay for all teachers to $40,000, with local districts increasing pay by even more, but the changes have not had any major impacts on the teacher shortage so far.
It's a problem that teacher and president of the South Carolina Educators Association, Sherry East, said is twofold.
"We have young people that don’t see teaching as a viable profession so they’re not entering the teaching profession through college," East said. "And the second part is our veteran teachers have decided they don’t want to do this anymore. They’re fed up with the pay [and] the working conditions, and they are finding jobs in corporate America."
East said the teacher shortage trend started around 2017, but it got worse during COVID. But East said it's also not just about the money.
When I started teaching 27 years ago, they handed me some keys and books and said, 'Go forth and teach, you're a professional, you went to school to do this, we trust that you know what you're doing," East said, "And somewhere along those 27 years became all these standards and mandates...I kind of lost the autonomy and the professionalism and respect that I had as an educator."