COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Thousands of teachers are leaving South Carolina public schools each year. The teachers say it's the student who pays the price for this mass exodus.
But, how can the state keep teachers and entice new ones into public schools?
There's a committee, led by the state's Department of Education, tasked with getting recruitment and retention ideas to lawmakers.
Outside of that, teachers say appreciation is the secret.
Those in the Kershaw County School District, for example, believe that high-risk, one-day testing that they're judged on turns teachers away. Also, that there should be smaller class sizes and competitive pay.
According to a recent report by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement, there were about 6,482 teachers in South Carolina that did not return to their same teaching position at the end of the last school year. That's up from 5,352 from the year before.
"I guess the bottom line, two things are making teachers feel important and valued. That we're not just going to be measured on a one-day test score. And that the money does talk. Teachers need to have more support, the money for more teacher assistants, smaller class sizes, and a salary that's going to be equal to what other states are receiving," Kershaw County School teacher and reading interventionist Melissa Smith says.
The average teacher salary in South Carolina is $48,000 per year—compare that to Georgia's $54,000 per year, and you see the incentive to leave the state.
In Kershaw County, 79 teachers didn't return to the classroom this year. In Richland County's District One, 368 did not return and the districts feel the trend is similar across the state.
The panel designed to come up with ideas on how to stop the bleeding is supposed to report to lawmakers by the end of December.