When I read the Post and Courier editorial, “Tackling the SC Teacher Shortage Begins by Broadening the Discussion Beyond Money,” I was greatly encouraged. My team and I have been working on a set of strategies to address our local teacher shortage since my first day in the superintendent’s chair.
I have delayed submitting a proposal to the Charleston County School Board because I want to include the results of the survey which I will soon be sending to all teachers in the district. I want to hear from the people who work directly in our classrooms every day and I want to be able to assure our school board that the set of strategies we are asking them to support includes things that will have a professional impact and positive staff about our most valuable employees – our teachers. I want to know what matters to educators and what we can do to keep them in our district.
For many years, there has been a shortage of highly qualified teachers in specific areas of academic content and in specific schools. The editorial and, presumably, the state’s task force acknowledge that “wage increases are necessary but insufficient.” Clearly, any new plan to reduce the teacher shortage must be based on improved compensation.
But as we’ve seen over the past two years, there are factors that affect job satisfaction that are only indirectly related to pay and benefits.
Better salaries for public school teachers will help open the door to a new future for the teaching profession. However, to truly transform the quality of education we provide to students, we need to think more broadly about what our organization can do to improve the quality of life for teachers and help all teachers become the best students they aspired to be when they graduated. middle School. This is why the contribution of teachers is so important.
We have compiled a list of promising practices. Our teacher compensation task force generated some, and we borrowed others from other districts and other professions. Through our survey, we will ask teachers to respond to these ideas and offer their own new and original thoughts.
The shortage of teachers is a serious and complex national problem, but the solutions must come from the local level. The challenges we face in Charleston are similar to those found in other communities, but no other district has the exact same set of challenges, and no other district has the same combination of resources and determination that are necessary to overcome our current obstacles.
The needs and living conditions of teachers vary. This is why our plan must be creative enough to offer multiple strategies to meet varying needs. Some teachers’ top priorities may be on-the-job childcare or late/early departures. Others may prioritize time off to schedule during the day, job sharing, part-time positions, the opportunity to earn extra pay through extra duties, graduate scholarships or more professional support.
We won’t know what’s important until we start listening.
For us to get the results we want and our children deserve, teachers must shape the plan we adopt here in Charleston.
Don Kennedy is superintendent of the Charleston County School District.