COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina ranks 43rd, or 9th-worst, when it comes to conditions for teachers, according to a new study by the personal finance website WalletHub. It’s not a ranking of the quality of the teachers but of how teachers are treated, based on things like salary, school safety, state spending per student, and pupil-teacher ratios.
South Carolina’s average starting salary ranks 32nd, after being adjusted for cost of living. Craig King, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Palmetto State Teachers Association, says, “When students start considering careers, one thing they look at is prospective pay in that field, so we have to be intentional about how we can look at rewarding our teachers in salary.”
The state ranks 38th in median annual salary for teachers.
Michael Husmann, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina who plans to become a high school English teacher, says of the study, “It doesn’t encourage me, but I wouldn’t say it discourages me either. I still feel confident going into it in South Carolina.”
He says that, as a college student, he doesn’t have any money now, so the fact that teachers have low salaries relative to other jobs that require college degrees doesn’t bother him. But he says, “I think about the class ratios, for sure. It’s hard to build those relationships when you have 30-plus kids in your class, to get to know them on an individual level.”
South Carolina ranks 33rd for pupil-teacher ratio.
The state ranks 42nd for school safety. The Palmetto State Teachers Association supports requiring every public school to have a school resource officer on campus.
In the study, North Carolina ranks 44th, just below South Carolina. Georgia ranks 22nd. New Jersey has the highest ranking, while Hawaii is the lowest.
While South Carolina’s rank of 43rd is low, it’s an improvement over last year, when it ranked 45th.