The slew of prefiled education bills shows that the Legislature now understands what teachers already knew: Things are bad. Around 7,300 teachers quit last year; most didn’t return.
Unfortunately, many teachers were afraid to warn the state. Threatened by some administrators and school boards, strained and overworked, and treated by lawmakers as problems to be solved rather than as valuable allies, they kept their heads down.
Nationwide, teachers are now speaking up. Spurred by the retention crisis, teachers throughout America have voted, staged walkouts and gone on strike. South Carolina can solve its problems without teachers leaving the classroom, but we need to act now.
While Gov. McMaster and House Speaker Lucas have offered proposals with some good ideas, the Legislature should also listen to educators who know what is causing the problems and how best to fix them. Simply put, and echoing thousands of my colleagues, I suggest: a raise of at least 10 percent, an end to retaliation for speaking out, and less onerous student testing and teacher recertification requirements. We have great teachers in South Carolina and need more. We’re not going to achieve that through low pay and abuse, but through fair pay and respect.
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SC teachers paid more than average SC worker
Salaries and benefits consume the bulk of any school systems budget. Additional monies are used for infrastructure, maintenance, construction and debt management, and each must have separate accounts without moving monies from one to another.
According to the American Community Survey (ACS) and Salary.com, the median annual income for a S.C. family in 2017 was $50,570 – based on a 265 day work year – while the average annual income for a S.C. teacher in 2018 was $52,543 – based on a 190 day work year. This means that the average daily pay for a S.C. teacher is 45 percent higher than that of other S.C. workers. Granted, most S.C. workers are not required to hold advanced degrees and do not take home papers to grade or attend numerous after-hours events or engage in unpaid professional development, but we educators tacitly agreed to those terms from the start.
If parents and community members truly want to support teachers, start by doing the little things such as:
1. Read to your children when they are young and give them books as gifts.
2. Show them love; model respect for others; and, let them fall, as long as they get back up.
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.