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Are the working conditions, the exclusion of certain social benefits at the origin of the shortage of teachers in South Carolina?

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) — Governor Henry McMaster recently signed into law a bill expanding paid parental leave for state employees that does not include teachers. Why not? Because public school teachers are not technically employed by the state.

South Carolina public school teachers are part of the Department of Education, governed by the State Board of Education, receive state pension and benefits, and their paychecks come from the state ; however, according to the South Carolina Code of Laws, public school teachers are district employees—not state employees.

SECTION 59-1-130. Definition of “Teacher”: “Teacher” means any person employed full-time or part-time by a school district to teach or to supervise teaching.


However, this definition does not apply to teachers in higher education.

Academic staff is defined by Section 8-11-220 of the South Carolina Code of Laws as “presidents, provosts, vice presidents, deans, teaching and research staff, and other members of the academic staff employed by state higher education establishments, or medical teaching and research institutions The remuneration of employees occupying positions in the academic staff category is governed by article 19-706.04 C. Chairpersons covered by the Heads of Agencies Salary Commission are not subject to the Academic Staff Regulations.

Teachers are state employees, but they are employed by the districts.

With more than 52,000 public school teachers, teachers would constitute by far the largest group of those employed by the state, if classified as such.

Even with the shortage of teachers, teaching is the 19th most common profession in the state.

To teach in South Carolina, applicants must complete a teacher education program from an accredited college or university approved by the state board of education, complete a student teaching internship, hold at least a bachelor’s degree and provide a letter of recommendation for a teaching license from a teacher preparation program manager. Many certifications may also be required.

A report released in January 2022 found that there were more than 1,100 teaching vacancies statewide.

RELATED | Report shows SC has more teaching vacancies now than at the start of this school year

As in other southern states, South Carolina’s teacher turnover rates are higher than in many other parts of the United States.

The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) 2017-2018 Supply and Demand Report shows a clear trend. Fewer applicants are graduating from South Carolina teacher education programs, while increasing numbers of teachers leave the classroom during/at the end of the first year, and during/within the first five years of ‘education.


Even in the midst of the COVID pandemic, according to new research from CERRA, teachers were saying they weren’t leaving because of the pandemic: they say they’ve reached their breaking point.

RELATED | Report: South Carolina teachers see average salary drop

Teachers who left said that between going from teaching students in person to virtual, helping kids learn and cope with the pandemic, providing tech support, and feeling ignored by lawmakers or administrators when ‘they asked for more resources became too much, CERRA’s report showed.

The Time Off Act McMaster signed supports proposed teacher pay increases that should help retain teaching staff; however, McMaster clarified in March that not all teachers in the state would automatically receive a raise under the proposal, as some districts are already paying above the proposed new minimum wages.

While the House and Senate both poured more money into schools and increases for some teachers in the respective versions of the budget they approved, the House is increasing minimum wages across the board by $4,000. of the state in each cell of the teacher salary scale, including the increase in the starting salary. minimum wage of $36,000 to $40,000.

State lawmakers also recently added an additional $50 million for public education after some districts said they would need more funding to pay for mandatory increases.

RELATED | Horry County School Board assesses proposed budget and salary increase for teachers and bus drivers

In March, The South Carolina Department of Education has received more than $2 million in federal emergency relief funding for elementary and secondary schools for projects to address the state’s teacher shortage.

“There is so much more that can be done to address the teacher shortage,” said Patrick Kelly of the Palmetto State Teachers Association.

Kelly said working conditions are to blame for the teacher shortage. The new law grants teachers a half-hour break without assigned duties or responsibilities each day for all primary and special education teachers.

This new law simply guarantees the regulations passed nearly 40 years ago, SECTION 59-5-63. Duty Free Meal Periods for Teachers, 1984 Act No. 280, Section 1.

The tax-free lunch periods for teachers stipulate:

The State Board of Education will issue regulations directing the principal of each elementary school in grades one through six to develop and implement a plan that distributes dining room duties equitably among teachers so that each teacher has as many tax-free meal periods as is reasonable. to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff. Implementation of the plan will not impose additional costs on school districts. The regulations shall direct that the plan be effective for the 1984-85 school year.

In mid-May, House members decided to create a statewide task force to hold hearings and determine how to recruit and retain more teachers in South Carolina.

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