When the 2020-2021 school year rolled around in August, almost 700 teaching positions still lay vacant across the state, according to the 2020-21 S.C. Annual Educator Supply and Demand Report.
While district departures have dropped by 10% compared to last year, 6,000 teachers did not return to teach in the same district with higher levels of early-career resignations, according to the report, released by Rock Hill’s Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement.
Of those who left the field, 42% had five or fewer years of S.C. teaching experience under their belt compared to last year’s 36%. About 16% of departees had 12 months experience or less. Almost 40%, or 5,996 teachers, did not return to the same positions they held in 2019-2020 school year — a 28% increase from the year before, according to the report.
“If there has been any good to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that South Carolinians have a newfound appreciation for the tremendous job that teachers have in educating our students,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a statement following the release of the report Thursday. “However, the pandemic has intensified the teacher crisis in our state as evidenced by the report released today.”
As expected by district leadership in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply and demand gap for teachers has widened by 140 vacant positions since the previous school year, according to the release.
“Now is the time for state and local leaders to come together for current and future educators by supporting financial incentives, policies and programs that will help ensure we have a strong, high-quality teacher workforce serving our students for years to come,” Spearman said in the release.
To address the shortage, Spearman and the Education Department called for the following actions: