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Study Panel: Teacher Incentives May Boost Teacher Retention

If South Carolina wants to improve teacher retention, especially in rural districts, it should offer more incentives to teachers, according to a recent state legislative study panel. 

The Associated Press recently reported that the panel's recommendations included forgiving student loans, increasing teacher salaries, and providing stipends for teachers who mentor other teachers. The panel's leader, state Sen. Wes Hayes, said that rural districts in particular should adopt incentives since those districts often experience more challenges in recruiting teachers.

Kathy Maness, the director of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, told the Associated Press that teachers in South Carolina should be paid more when they start teaching, though, "we need to reward those who have made this their career." 

Nearly 48 percent of schools in South Carolina are rural, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. The article reported that there are about 4,000 teacher openings each year in South Carolina, but only about 2,000 education majors graduate from the state's colleges and universities every year. 

Nationwide, rural schools often struggle to recruit and retain teachers. In Alaska, where nearly 75 percent of the state's teachers are from outside the state, some districts have spent thousands of dollars recruiting teachers from other states. States like Missouri have tried to "grow their own" teachers and leaders for rural schools, while some rural districts in South Carolina and West Virginia have designed teacher housing units to encourage teachers to stay.

In November, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of more than two dozen rural school districts that sued the state alleging that South Carolina did not adequately fund rural schools. Rural schools in the state serve a high number of minority and low-income students, and South Carolina's rural students lag behind the majority of their rural peers nationwide in national standardized test scores.

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