South Carolina schools step up teacher recruitment efforts with rental, residency programs
- Recruiters for a Columbia, S.C.-area school district have been traveling to job fairs in other states to recruit teachers and help relieve a staff shortfall brought on by losing one-tenth of their teachers last year and being unable to find replacements, in part because a state incentive program to retain veteran teachers is ending.
- The State newspaper reports that such recruitment can create a “churn cycle” where teachers who aren’t from the local community or invested in it don’t stay long, but Lexington 2 School District officials report their recruitment efforts have improved from past years when eight openings often were filled with long-term substitutes.
- The paper also reports that like others in the country, districts in the state are recruiting teachers by supporting their housing: one rural district is buying homes for teachers to rent, and another is considering buying an apartment building that will support a new residency program it is developing, modeled after those used for medical students.
In San Francisco, where the school district and the city have offered various housing incentives for teachers, data from a real estate rental firm say fifth-year teachers typically have to pay 70% of their income to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the region, and can only afford less than 1% of the homes. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on a homeless math teacher in an article examining the financial difficulties teachers face.
An American Public Media report also highlighted the problem in rural areas, reporting that West Virginia teacher vacancies more than doubled in the past four years and the McDowell County Schools, in rural coal country, lost 163 of its 275 teachers over three years and typically fills 20% of its teaching positions with substitute teachers.
The Learning Policy Institute, based in California, has developed a series of policy recommendations including increasing salaries, helping with college debt, providing housing and using the Every Student Succeeds Act to help challenging districts to offer incentives. A new report shows that getting good teachers to move to low-performing schools with increased pay does improve outcomes, but many were reluctant to relocate, even with a $20,000 incentive.
Other efforts, such as Teach for America (TFA), focus on training more teachers. Their research shows that the organization has effectively developed new teachers and that principals were pleased with their TFA graduates. In two South Carolina counties, The State reported that school districts are training new teachers in a few weeks through programs modeled after a state training program.