South Carolina is one of the worst states in America in which to be a teacher, according to a new study.
Of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Palmetto State ranks as the 44th best state to be a teacher, according to a newly released study from personal finance website WalletHub.
WalletHub’s rankings are based on starting salary, possibility for pay to increase, pension, how long teachers have to wait to get tenure, quality of school systems and other factors, according to the website’s methodology.
Other factors, such as public spending per student, student-to-teacher ratio, teacher turnover, teacher safety and the strength of teacher unions also factored into the rankings.
The S.C. Department of Education said its rankings were weighed down by its right-to-work laws and 2018 data which did not include the most recent pay increases for teachers, spokesman Ryan Brown said in an email.
“South Carolina is a right to work state and does not have teacher unions or tenure laws,” Brown said. “These are rated measures on the WalletHub study that S.C. received zeros on.”
The top-ranked state was North Dakota and the lowest-ranked state was Arizona. South Carolina finished just above Oklahoma and just below the District of Columbia, according to the study.
S.C. has long had issues recruiting and retaining teachers. It’s so bad for some teachers they need multiple jobs to pay the bills, and sometimes those second jobs pay more than teaching, according to a previous article from The State.
Poor working conditions for SC teachers led to protests on May 1. It was the largest teacher rally in state history, with a crowd size estimated at 10,000, according to a previous article from The State.
Once inflation is factored in, the average S.C. teacher was paid $6,700 less in 2018 than in 2004, according to a previous article from The State.
To rectify this, the state legislature allocated $160 million to increase teacher pay. This shakes out to a 4 percent minimum raise for teachers, with newer, less-experienced teachers receiving a larger percent increase, according to a previous article from The State.