Charleston, South Carolina – The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on America’s education system, especially on its teachers. Millions of teachers have faced unprecedented challenges and hardships during the past two years, such as adapting to remote or hybrid learning, dealing with health risks and safety protocols, coping with stress and anxiety, and managing their personal and professional lives.
As a result, many teachers have decided to leave their profession or look for additional sources of income. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in March 2021, 44% of public schools reported having teacher vacancies at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Moreover, about one-third of public-school teachers reported working a second job outside of teaching during that year.
The teacher shortage has been exacerbated by low pay, lack of support and respect, and insufficient funding for education. The average annual salary for public school teachers in 2019-20 was $63,645, which was below the national median household income of $67,521. Many teachers also struggle with student debt, lack of benefits and resources, and high turnover rates.
The teacher shortage has serious implications for student learning and achievement. Research shows that having qualified and effective teachers is one of the most important factors for student success. However, due to the shortage, many schools have resorted to hiring unlicensed or inexperienced teachers, increasing class sizes, reducing course offerings or extracurricular activities, or relying on substitutes or online programs.
Most of the school districts across the state of South Carolina have experienced the teacher shortages due to the same reasons. Even though they’ve put a lot of effort in hiring part-time teachers and offered different kinds of incentives during the pandemic for candidates to fill in the gap, the current situation hasn’t improved much. That’s why a Charleston County School District (CCSD) task force is working to increase teacher pay for 2023-24 and they’ve created a salary schedule for board members to consider.
The inflation and the skyrocketing prices are forcing many teachers to still work part-time jobs because the teacher pay is still considered low compared to many other jobs. Per the proposed salary schedule, experienced teachers could see a significant pay, going from $66,235 to nearly $80,000. First-year teacher should also expect solid increase. Per the schedule, the starting pay for a first-year teacher would increase from $43,146 to a suggested $50,000.
“I want our teachers to understand the district and Board of Trustees values them and want them to be able to live in our community and not work part time jobs. We want their focus to be on our students,” said William Briggman, the chief HR Officer for CCSD.
The proposed pay raise for teachers in Charleston could be a significant turning point for the city’s education system in terms of retaining teachers. The proposal will be presented to the Board on March 13, and if it passes, it could be a game-changer for the district.
Briggman has expressed their optimism about the plan’s potential impact on teacher retention. Several board members have reportedly voiced their support for the proposal and expressed a willingness to find solutions that keep teachers within the district for as long as possible.
If implemented, the pay raise could be a crucial step in addressing the teacher shortage crisis that has plagued Charleston’s schools and the education system at large. The proposal’s success will depend on the Board’s decision, which will likely be closely monitored by educators, students, and concerned citizens alike.