SC lawmakers see red as teachers and parents flood downtown for education reform

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More than 10,000 teachers were in Columbia Wednesday letting their voices be heard and their presence be felt. The All Out Rally was a call for action by a group of thousands of teachers from across South Carolina. 

The saying goes “there is power in numbers” and that definitely held true here at the State House. Thousands of teachers parents, students and lawmakers wore red for education and went all out for education reform.

The crowd lined the streets between the State House and the Department of Education causing at least 2 downtown city blocks to be shut down. SCforED, the group that helped organize the rally, said more than 5000 teachers checked into the day’s events before 9 a.m. 

Dozens of people carried signs reading “Our students are the reason” and “WTF? Where’s the Funding?” hoping to deliver the message to lawmakers that the state’s education system needs work. 

Davis Marret, a middle school Spanish teacher from Charleston, went into detail about some of the areas that need additional funding in his schools. 

“We need instruments, art supplies, our schools should be filled for students to find their creativity and passion in our schools. so I’m here for them,” said Marret. 

Both teachers and parents alike say change is needed. 

Stacey Olson from Spartanburg was in Columbia Wednesday representing the parents. “We need to be having the conversation about what children need in our classroom and stop blamig our teachers when not having the success.”

For the massive crowd change isn’t just about pay.

“The problems I see in the classrooms striclty or directly deal with the numbers, discipline, and our students needing mental health counseling significantly,” added Sheree Jackson, a teacher in Richland School District One. 

Marret continued, “I want smaller class sizes. I have 31 students in a class. I’d like under 25 so I can have time for that teacher student partnership.”

Teachers say their voices were left out of a bill more than 80 pages long passed in the South Carolina House. But for many teachers at Wednesday’s rally it was their last time to use their teacher’s voice. 

Patti Fisher, a teacher from Charleston County, was at the rally. Fisher announced she is now retiring because the profession has become too much for her to handle without the resources and support teachers need. 

Fisher explained,”It’s breaking my heart. I still get tears. I just signed the papers because this is what I’m meant to do. It’s my talent. but my health and sanity is just as important.”

The last day of the 2019 Legislative Session is May 9th and it’s unclear if any legislation related to education will pass.

However, the teachers in Columbia say they hope the momentum continues until something is done.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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