COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Teachers are fed up with the lack of time, resources, and funding that our state is putting towards education, and they’re counting on the 2019 legislative session to change things.
A study from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement shows that more than 4,800 teachers left South Carolina School districts in the 2016-2017 year.
With legislative session kicking back off next week, pre-filed bills regarding salary increases, paperwork reduction, school funding, and safety for teachers are already on the table.
South Carolina ranked 38th in the nation in 2017 for average teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association, but teachers in our area say that number is skewed by teachers making a decent salary in large districts and doesn’t accurately represent what most educators in our state are making.
“We can’t afford to lose any more teachers,” said teacher Lisa Ellis. “We’re already in a crisis as it is.”
Ellis is just one of many SC educators who is demanding change this year from SC legislators. She’s been teaching for 18 years, and she’s seen first-hand how poor resources and low teacher salaries can affect students.
“When you don’t have enough teachers, your class sizes are bigger, and so you see class sizes moving up into the 30s,” she said. “School people are having to get second and third jobs, and they’re exhausted because they have to leave the role of teacher and go to another job to make ends meet, and that’s taking away from students as well because of the mental and emotional exhaustion.”
All components that Ellis said have played a part in graduation rates and low third-grade reading levels. Ellis said she and other teachers are asking for change that ranges from a five-percent salary increase to more freedom to make public, comments.
Freshman Representative Seth Rose said he’s ready to fight for what they need.
“When a child is not adequately educated, it’s going to affect all of us,” Rose said. “We want the best and brightest teaching our children here in South Carolina, and when there’s a shortage in teachers, we have larger classrooms. Everything’s intertwined and there is a trickle down effect.”
Rose is optimistic about how this legislative session will fair for teachers, and educators like Ellis just hope he’s right.
“The goal is for our students to lead productive lives and elevate the state,” Ellis said. “But we can’t do that the way that the system is right now.”