COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina teachers can expect a pay raise of 1%, which pushes the new starting salary to $32,000. Is that enough to help with the teacher shortage some consider a crisis? Teachers are still fighting for a higher wage.
A new report from the American Federation of Teachers ranks South Carolina 35th in the country for teacher pay and 32nd in dollars per student.
"A 1% raise, though it is a raise, we need to ask for more. And so we as teachers need to find our collective voice to say we need to be paid the southeastern average," Richland One eighth grade teacher Dottie Adams said.
Lawmakers have approved an increase in state dollars funded per student by $60, which gives teachers another 2% raise. South Carolina still falls below the Southeastern average salary of $50,000. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman says she's pushing for more, but there have been some wins since two years ago the starting salary was $29,000.
CERRA (Center for Educator Recruitment Retention and Advancement) reports 4,900 teachers left teaching in a public school district in the 2016 school year. Will the raise help matters?
"I don't know that that will make a difference in a teacher staying or not staying," said Kathy Maness, a former teacher with the Palmetto State Teachers Association.
"We lose awesome, awesome teachers. If a teacher is worried about providing for their own family and a teacher is worried about where that money is going to come from they can't focus on their students and they can't focus on what they need to do to meet those students' needs," Adams added.
"I'm going to be asking for more funding for teacher salaries for next year. I think what we need is for the public to get behind that. They expect me to ask for that funding, but we need business folks, we need parents to say we think this is important too," Superintendent Molly Spearman said.