COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) – A group of South Carolina lawmakers say they are planning to file a bill supported by public school teachers in the upcoming session.
It’s called the Teacher Bill of Rights. It’s unique from other bills filed in the statehouse in that it was drafted for teachers by teachers
The bill of rights was first presented more than a decade ago in 2003 but didn’t gain much traction in the state.
“We’ve known for a while there’s a problem, but now all of a sudden there is a shortage of teachers and everyone is paying attention,” said Sherry East, president of the SC Education Association. “Where are we going to get teachers? We don’t know.”
40% of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years, making teacher retention a problem. Lawmakers are starting to realize is a bigger problem than they thought.
“We met with roughly 50 teachers from across the state, 9 counties were represented. They literally talked about walking out. That’s where we are with the state of public education in South Carolina,” Representative Seth Rose of Richland County.
The Teacher Bill of Rights is like a list of demands and it doesn’t just focus on a salary. It also includes things like time for professional development and support in the classroom
“Every teacher deserves a break during the day, to eat, to use the restroom,” said East. “That’s one of the big things on there. Just professionalism, working conditions, support for new teachers, they need mentors, support to help their craft, and less testing.”
When it comes to salary, the South Carolina Education Association is asking lawmakers to increase teacher pay to meet the southeastern average which means an extra $2,200 per teacher.
The SC Education Association says in order for teacher pay here in the state to meet the national average, $10,000 would have to add per teacher.
That bill will be up for discussion starting January 8th when the 2019 legislative session kicks off.
The speaker of the house, Jay Lucas, said this year will be the year for public education reform.