The Challenge

The global pandemic, economic downturn, and heightened attention to racial injustice exposed deep issues of how our educational system was constructed. Existing educational inequities like the opportunity gap – a gap of access to resources and opportunities such as technology and social-emotional support – were accentuated during this tumultuous time.

Students are struggling as they navigate new ways of learning and adapting to our rapidly changing world. It has been particularly challenging for South Carolina’s most vulnerable children, families with the fewest resources, children of color whose unmet needs stem from systemic failures and inequities, and students who count on schools for more than an education.

Additionally, South Carolina has faced a teacher shortage crisis for years, and the number of teacher vacancies are increasing with no end in sight. Teacher shortages and turnovers are some of the root causes that have led to South Carolina’s ranking in the bottom 10 for Pre-K to 12 education among the states by U.S. News & World Report.

The Opportunity Gap

Poverty status and race continue to be the largest determinants of a student’s educational outcomes in South Carolina. We see that potential is equally distributed across lines of class and race, but opportunity is not. Children who grow up in historically marginalized communities often lack access to resources and opportunities, and they attend schools that are not equipped to meet their needs.

And the opportunity gap is widening. Low-income students, for instance, have been deeply affected by recent school shutdowns and virtual learning. If students do not meet grade-level standards because of learning losses, they can fall further behind and risk not graduating with the expected level of college or career preparedness. There is also a cost to students’ social-emotional development.

Reimagining Education

In this pivotal moment, we must ask ourselves:

What is the future of education, and how can we come together to make a significant impact in our classrooms and build a more equitable future?

As we look ahead, we need to think and act differently — centering on equity — to increase the pipeline of qualified teachers, close the opportunity gap, and transform student outcomes. The work of TFASC for educational equity within our classrooms, our schools, and our districts has never mattered more.

By the Numbers: The State of Education in South Carolina

State Ranking

Source: U.S. News & World Report, 2019

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South Carolina’s ranking of Pre-K to 12 education among the states

Student Poverty Status

Source: South Carolina Department of Education, 2018

0 %

of South Carolina third graders not living in poverty met or exceeded grade-level standards

0 %

of South Carolina third graders living in poverty met or exceeded grade-level standards

Student Race

Source: South Carolina Department of Education, 2018

0 %

of white students in South Carolina gained job-ready math skills

0 %

of Black students in South Carolina gained job-ready math skills

Teacher Shortages and Turnovers

Source: The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA), 2020-2021

0

teaching positions were vacant on the first day of school in South Carolina – a 26% increase from the previous academic year

0

number of annual teacher turnover

0 %

of first-year South Carolina teachers did not return to the same position for a second year

0 %

of South Carolina teachers with five or fewer years of experience left the classroom

(TFASC teachers accounted for 0.8% of these teachers)

 

Economic Impact

$ 0

average cost to replace a teacher

$ 0 million

expense to fill positions from annual teacher turnover