South Carolina is trying to combat a well-documented teacher shortage.
According to the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement, nearly 4,900 public school teachers left their classrooms during or at the end of the 2016-17 school year and are no longer teaching in any public school district in the state. In addition, our schools started this year unable to fill 550 teaching positions.
The high teacher turnover rate comes with a high price, as one estimate puts the cost of recruiting and training a new teacher at $18,000.
Obviously, our state must find a way to reverse this trend, and National Board certification has proven to be one effective way. Currently, South Carolina teachers who achieve certification receive an additional $5,000 per year for the life of the five-year certification period.
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However, a proviso added to the state budget last year eliminates the supplement for teachers who apply for certification after July 1 of this year.
The effectiveness of this stipend as a retention tool is beyond dispute.
According to a recently released report from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement, National Board-certified teachers in South Carolina quit teaching at just a quarter the rate of other teachers: 7.7 percent of all S.C. public school teachers left the classroom after the 2015-16 school year, compared to just 1.9 percent of board-certified teachers.
I would encourage everyone that cares about the quality of our schools to contact their legislators to encourage them to reinstate the National Board supplement. I ask this not for personal gain, as last year’s proviso does not impact currently certified teachers.
Instead, I make this request as a teacher who has experienced the value of certification to my profession, and I ask as a parent who wants every child to have access to board-certified teachers.
The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.