HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A statewide education group is taking action to raise awareness about its concerns within the classroom and the changes it wants to be made during the upcoming legislative session.

“You can’t blame people for not wanting to come into a profession that no one seems to care about,” SC for Ed boards member Nicole Walker said.

Salary and working conditions are two of the biggest concerns SC for Ed wants lawmakers to address.

“You want teachers to stay in the classrooms, you’ve got to improve their salary in their working conditions. and there’s simple bills that are out there that can do that,” SC for Ed President Lisa Ellis said.

According to Ellis, South Carolina teacher salaries are about 11% below the national average.

“We think by asking for a 10% salary increase, that’s not getting us where we need to be, but at least it is a significant jump,” Ellis said.

Other concerns sit within teachers’ contracts. Specifically, SC for Eds thinks teachers should have the right to opt out of a contract under reasonable circumstances and have defined hours and duties.

“I think that those are very low-cost items that would do a lot for the morale of teachers in this state,” Walker said.

“A teacher’s working conditions are a student’s learning conditions, and so if you’ve got a situation where your teacher is exhausted and worn out, and burnt out, that’s where your student is learning,” Ellis said. 

Several bills pre-filed in 2020 could be the next step in resolving some of SC for Ed’s concerns. In addition, the group is encouraging teachers to communicate with their elected officials prior to the upcoming legislative session.

“We strongly feel that some good faith effort needs to be made now by the legislature to keep teachers in the classroom,” Walker said. “We are losing teachers every day, and the situation is getting quite bleak in South Carolina.”