COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina's new task force aimed at solving the state's teacher shortage met for the first time Monday.
For the remainder of the school year, the task force will meet and discuss ways to recruit teachers, keep them from leaving the field, and encourage college students to apply to education programs.
The 17-member group is made up of teachers, lawmakers, a former state superintendent, and a secondary education major at Clemson University.
Former State Superintendent Barbara Nielson said next to compensation, improving working conditions will be a priority for the task force.
"Working conditions mean the world to people in those schools every single day, so that’s gonna be a big one," said Nielson.
In February, the Center for Education Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) reported 1,100 teacher vacancies. President of the South Carolina Educators Association (SCEA) Sherry east said that is causing larger classes and more stress for teachers.
"You have enough students for three but only enough teachers for two. So you have to take that third class and collapse a class into those two teachers.
Secondary education history major at Clemson University Julia Sowell said she wants change the narrative that education isn't a good field to go into.
"Give more support to students who are looking into education and just providing those opportunities once they get into the classroom without overwhelming them," said Sowell.
At the next meeting, the group will be reviewing a 2017 report of the committee on educator retention and recruitment.
The task force is required to submit their recommendations to Gov. Henry McMaster, Speaker of the House Rep. Murrell Smith and Senate President Sen. Thomas Alexander.