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More SC teachers are leaving education. Leaders say this is causing a crisis

A new report found nearly 700 teachers have left their positions since October, prompting the state superintendent of education to call for pay raises, support.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s superintendent of education said the state is losing teachers at a “crisis level” as a new report shows 170 educators have left their jobs every month since October.

The report by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) determined that the state has lost close to 700 teachers in the last four months.

In an effort to obtain more up-to-date information from school districts, CERRA recently contacted personneldirectors to inquire about the number of additional teacher departures since they submitted a Supply andDemand Survey and the number of positions currently vacant in their schools.

“The pandemic has intensified the teacher crisis in our state,” Superintendent Molly Spearman said on the heels of the release of the new data. “Now is the time for state and local leaders to come together for current and future educators by supporting financial incentives, policies, and programs that will help ensure we have a strong, high quality teacher workforce serving our students for years to come.”

This week, South Carolina lawmakers took action to resume the teacher pay increases that were previously put on hold due the pandemic.

The efforts may be too little, too late, cautioned Rock Hill teacher Saani Perry.

“This year has definitely shown me that educators are super undervalued and not respected whatsoever,” Perry said.

Perry teaches 9th grade but is now contemplating whether this year will be his last.

“When I’m thinking about next year I’m just like, am I willing to continue to sacrifice myself or am I gonna put myself first and do something different?” he pondered.

Perry said he thinks the pandemic will be the tipping point for many of his colleagues.

A survey of 2,000 educator conducted by SC for Ed echoes Perry’s concerns.

The survey found that 39% do not intend to return to their current positions next year.

From November 2 to November 10, 2020, SC for Ed surveyed ​over 2,000 teachers and other school staff​ through email and multiple social media platforms. The ​majority of the responses (91%) were from teachers​, and these responses represented roughly ​4% of all current South Carolina teachers​, with survey respondents in some districts representing over 9% of current district teachers​.

Additional losses of that magnitude would be difficult for the state to withhold, Spearman cautioned.

She called upon lawmakers to approve salary increases for next school year, as well teacher supply supplements, additional step increases, and things to improve work flow such as more planning time and streamlined evaluation processes.

Perry said he will focus on finishing the school year the best he can and will re-evaluate over the summer.

“I feel like every year I’ve taught there’s been a different battle to fight whether that’s fighting for funding, whether it’s fighting for resources, this year it’s fighting for lives and just human decency when it comes to protecting people in a pandemic,” Perry said. “I just feel like every year it just progressively gets worse. We’re putting our lives on the line to do what’s best for the future and no one seems to consider our basic needs.”