Hundreds of SC teachers could skip school next week over education reform bill

State - Regional

Next week, dozens of teachers could be absent from school. Educators will be in Columbia speaking with lawmakers hoping to spark change in legislation. And the teachers hope to do it quickly.

State House Speaker Jay Lucas declared 2019 as the year of education reform. House members worked to pass a massive education bill filed by the speaker that seemed to address all things education. 

But hundreds of teachers and several lawmakers say not so fast. 

Senator Mike Fanning has worked with other lawmakers to hold public hearings across the state to hear from teachers. He says the bill passed by the House fails to address those concerns. 

“The massive ed reform bill was made with no teachers at the table,” said Senator Fanning from Fairfield. 

SC for ED is also concerned about the bill and some of the proposals being considered. The group started last May as a Facebook group for teachers to network across the state while expressing concerns, offering solutions, and speaking with lawmakers. 

Nicole Walker, a Midlands teacher, is a board member of the group. 

“We felt like we have made a good faith effort to be really transparent and I think it’s fair to say they have not necessarily heard us,” Walker said.  

Many teachers say the legislation does not reflect the needs of educators or problems in the classrooms. Lawmakers have made salary a top priority, but teachers say there are other priorities in the classrooms. 

“(The) majority of our members have said their main concern is their kids and having the best classroom experience possible in terms of class size but also available material,” Walker said.

To make sure that concern is made clear for lawmakers, hundreds of teachers plan to skip school on May 1. SC for ED calls the day “All Out.”  

“We don’t want it to negatively impact our kids. We don’t want them to be lost for a day. We want long term success for them. And so every one of us is going to have to decide what that means to them,” explained Walker, who is taking a personal day to attend the call for action at the State House. 

Senator Mike Fanning said the move for a day at the State House is “needed.”

“It’s about time teachers demand that their voices be heard. Teachers using their teacher voices saying enough is enough,” he said. 

That day of action is scheduled for May 1. 

May 9 is the official last day of the 2019 legislative session and the last chance for lawmakers to get blls passed in both bodies of the house and sent to the governor’s desk. 

So far, no bills related to reforming education at the k-12 level have passed. 

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