South Carolina – The teachers shortage in South Carolina is becoming more and more serious issue, something that further worsened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This problem is seen in almost every single county across the state of South Carolina and it will take years before the problem is being solved.
In an effort to keep teachers on their jobs during the pandemic, school districts across the state rose their pay and offered other types of incentives to make the teaching positions more attractive for candidates. However, the financial situation still remains one of the major issues.
According to the available data, 970 teachers have left the classroom since the start of the school year. Many are facing disciplinary action, possibly having their teacher’s license suspended for up to a year.
ABC News 4 spoke with Sydney Van Bulck who is a pre-school teacher in the Charleston County School District. Van Bulck has been teaching for 11 years, but she now works two other jobs so she can afford living in the Charleston area.
“So for the last few years, I’ve had to sit back and really think about whether or not financially I was going to be able to make it another year. Unfortunately, this is going to be my last year, at least for now, because I just can’t afford it…. For me it was a hard decision because this is a career that I love and have put my whole heart and soul into. But at the end of the day, if you can’t pay your bills, then you have to figure out another way,” Van Bulck says.
Unlike her who plans to resign at the end of the school year, many teachers left their positions mid-year for many different reasons. She believes the low pay and the mental health are the major reasons in those who left mid-year.
“I have talked to several teachers who have left mid-year for several reasons. One, the financial situation and mental health is a really big problem right now for teachers. Unfortunately, there is pressure that we are being put under keeps escalating,” says Van Bulck.
According to the current South Carolina law, teachers who leave the positions mid-year are facing teaching license suspension to up to a year. It’s up to the school districts to decide if they are going to request license suspension, but Van Bulck is seeing this to be the case more often compared to previous years.
While teachers have their own reasons why they are quitting their jobs, experts warn that suspending teaching licenses at this rate might even further worsen the teachers shortage problem.
Sherry East from the South Carolina Education Association is asking the South Carolina Board of Education to be more flexible with licenses suspension especially during the pandemic.
“You’re in the Charleston area, let’s say, they just couldn’t be working for Charleston anymore, but they wanted to go to Berkeley or they wanted to go to Summerville, and you are going to penalize those districts as well, because then they won’t be able to pick up that teacher next year because they will have a suspended license,” says East.