S.C. education deans urge officials to work on K-12 teacher shortage solutions

The Citadel Social Card

Education deans at some South Carolina colleges and universities are combining their efforts to alleviate the K-12 teacher shortage crisis plaguing the state.

Deans of education programs at six colleges, including The Citadel, Clemson University, College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, University of South Carolina and Winthrop University recently released a joint public statement urging action from the General Assembly, the S.C. Department of Education and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to counter the teacher shortage occurring across the state.

The group issued a three-page call to action through the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, which has a mission to improve the quality of life for community members and the area’s workforce through education. The document was addressed to the S.C. Educator Retention and Recruitment Student Committee which includes members of the House of Representatives minority and majority leaders, superintendents of three South Carolina school districts and the executive director of South Carolina’s Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement. The state superintendent of education serves as chairman of the committee.

“The shortage of qualified teachers in South Carolina, especially in high poverty and rural areas and in disciplines including math and science, has become so critical as to compromise both the quality of education and future economic development across the state,” read the statement. “Enrollment declines at colleges of education only serve to exacerbate this crisis.”

The deans urge the S.C. Department of Education and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to work with them and other colleges in the state to:

Provide expedited approval of pilot programs that would allow for conditional certification of educators followed by full credentialing after years of service, demonstration of instructional effectiveness and success in Praxis subject assessment.
Work with the governor and S.C. Legislature to significantly increase funding for evidence-based programs, including Call Me Mister and Teaching Fellows.
The participating deans include:

Larry Daniel, Ph.D., dean of the Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel
Tracy Meetze-Holcombe, Ph.D., education dean of the School of Education at Francis Marion University
Jon Pedersen, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education at the University of South Carolina
George Petersen, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education at Clemson University
Jennie Rakestraw, Ph.D., dean of the Richard W. Riley College of Education at Winthrop University
Frances Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Performance at the College of Charleston
“The need for innovative programs and strategies for both recruiting and retaining quality educators in South Carolina is apparent. Collective action is required to develop and implement incentives and structures to attract, develop and retain quality teachers,” the statement reads.

The dean of Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel, reiterated the notion and encourages the state to move past the status-quo.

“South Carolina has reached a critical point in its need for qualified teachers. Demand far exceeds supply, and the state must move beyond business as usual,” said Daniel. “Our colleges and schools of education are committed to experimentation and innovation. We need the state to remove barriers to creating responsive teacher preparation programs in a timely manner.”

Last month the Zucker Family School of Education led an open forum to drive discussion about how to address the teacher shortage taking place in the state and around the country. The event was the schools’ first educational leadership and innovation forum. Its purpose was to begin gathering information to contribute to policy change to submit to legislature to affect the policy level.

In the document, the deans include the following data to underscore the need for problem solving:

  • The number of teachers leaving their positions in South Carolina significantly outpaces the number of teacher education graduates annually
  • Enrollment in teacher training programs is declining at about 4 percent annually
  • In 2016, 6,500 teachers left their positions—25 percent left to teach in another S.C. district and 23 percent left the profession entirely

“High teacher turnover creates a continuous state of rebuilding in schools, often diminishing the collaboration and cohesion needed to build a sense of community,” read the statement. “Unless corrective action is taken, the failure to attract and retain great teachers will significantly compromise the education attainment of our children, the fiscal health of our communities and our collective capacity to attract new jobs and families to our state.”

Future meetings are planned to discuss the innovative strategies needed to implement policy reform to curtail the shortage issue. For more information, please visit www.tricountycradletocareer.org.