COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WBTW) — Thousands of teachers are rallying for better pay, smaller class sizes, and a guaranteed break during a school day march to the South Carolina Statehouse.
Wednesday’s rally prompted at least seven school districts to close because so many teachers asked for the day off that they couldn’t get enough substitutes and administrators in the classroom to guarantee student safety.
Online teacher group SC for Ed organized the rally. The new group has put pressure on lawmakers to change a massive education overhaul bill that likely won’t pass this year. Teachers say that bill did not have their input.
Senator Greg Hembree, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee worked as a substitute teacher Wednesday at Myrtle Beach Middle School.
Sen. Hembree said it gave him the opportunity to walk in a teacher’s shoes Hembree also said he’s met with hundreds of teachers on issues they’re facing in the classroom.
Hembree believes the education overhaul bill addresses some of the issues that teachers are rallying for.
“Many of the request that they’ve had and the issues that they’ve shared with us are built into that bill. It’s not finished, and frankly part of the reason it’s not finished is because we wanted to listen to teachers,” said Sen. Hembree.
Hembree said the education portion of the budget is raising starting teacher salaries and teacher salaries to above the southeastern average.
“It’s a labor rally, and that’s fine and I’m not critical of having a labor rally, but there is a cost associated with that and some of those costs are being paid by the families and the kids that missed out,” said Hembree.
Hembree said they will work on the education bill over the summer and hopes it will pass quickly in January.