Each year we demand more from educators within the same 180 days of school despite the loss of true instructional time that each new state and federal mandate brings.
Meanwhile, South Carolina has routinely ignored its own mandates on funding, class size, and alike for decades while expecting educators to follow each new requirement passed down to the letter.
We demand teachers produce the same results from students of various backgrounds, some of whom face tremendous obstacles, and go to schools with far fewer resources and opportunities than others.
On May 1, frustrated teachers from across our state left their classrooms to gather in Columbia and speak out for education and their profession. While the loss of already-limited, valuable instructional time for 125,000 students pained me, I welcome every voice who joins with those of us who have long advocated for comprehensive, necessary reform to South Carolina’s education system.
This year, I worked alongside the governor and General Assembly to pass the largest teacher pay raise since 1984, eliminate three unnecessary state required tests, and fund school-based mental health counselors and school resource officers.
The action taken this year is part of a larger bipartisan reform effort that passed the South Carolina House of Representatives in a 113-4 vote and will be further debated and refined in the Senate next year.
For far too long we have kicked the can down the road and failed to address the core education issues facing our state.
The lack of movement has hurt the opportunities and outcomes for our students, negatively affected our teacher recruitment and retention efforts, and now stands to hurt our state’s economy.
Business and industry cannot thrive in a state that refuses to address the needs of its students, teachers, and taxpayers.
We must continue the energy displayed in this year’s legislative session to ensure that the reform package becomes law.
South Carolina taxpayers deserve efficient school systems with the lowest administrative costs possible so more resources can go to the classroom.
They deserve a transparent and easy-to-understand education-funding structure that reflects our modern-day economy instead of an agrarian society that no longer exists.
South Carolina’s students deserve safe, secure, and up-to-date facilities, textbooks that correlate with high standards, and high-quality art, career, and technical education opportunities.
South Carolina’s teachers deserve dedicated planning and lunchtime, competitive pay, reductions in burdensome red tape, and continued support in addressing mental health, student discipline, and school safety.
They simply want the time and resources that they need to teach and help the students they care so deeply about be successful.
We all need to band together, much like teachers have, to expect more and demand the best from education decision makers at every level.
None of our goals will be met unless we continue to fight for excellence in education and the brightest future possible for every student in our state.