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Education
An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Teacher Shortage Increases In South Carolina; Remains About The Same In North Carolina

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Lisa Worf
/
WFAE
Courtney Mason in her classroom at Piney Grove Elementary.

Officials with an organization in South Carolina that tracks recruitment and retention efforts of teachers statewide say more needs to be done to stem the state’s growing teacher shortage.

According to the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) their latest survey shows that more than 6,000 teachers did not return to the classroom last year. That’s compared to about 5,300 two years ago.

Jane Turner, CERRA’s executive director, says part of the problem is that fewer students are majoring and graduating in education. She says there were only 1,900 graduates who completed a teacher education program in the state last year, a drop of 15 percent.

Turner says school districts need to do more to retain teachers, especially those with less experience. According to CERRA’s report, 38 percent of the teachers who left the profession in South Carolina had been in the classroom for five years or less. Most teachers left for personal reasons, with only 18 percent leaving for retirement.

Turner was quick to point out that the resulting teacher shortage is not across the board but in specific subject areas, such as math, science and special education.

“We’re also seeing shortages in social studies, foreign languages, English language arts and business,” Turner said.

The same is true in North Carolina in terms of subject area shortages. Overall, the state saw its teacher turnover increase slightly by seven-tenths of a percentage point last year. Department of Public Instruction figures show more than 8,600 teachers in North Carolina left the profession in the 2016 school year. Nearly 1,100 teachers took jobs in other states, about triple the number who left six years ago. 

Like South Carolina, education program enrollments are down. The UNC System reports a 30 percent decline in education majors.