There is a lot of misinformation floating around about my stance on public education. Some of the misinformation being spread is simply mistaken positions. Others, I'm afraid, are purposeful mischaracterizations. The short answer is...of course I support public education. More specifically, here are some of the initiatives I have recently advocated and/or voted in favor.
- Increase in professional wages for quality teachers.
- Removed the pay freeze in the 2020 budget approved by the Senate.
Despite the uncertainty to state revenues during the pandemic induced recession, and the unemployment of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, I felt it was important to show a good faith effort to continue the commitment made by the General Assembly to improve educator wages.
- Fully funded teacher pay increases without requiring a match by local districts.
- Elimination of all but 3 state mandated high stakes, standardized tests.
- Expanded 4-year old kindergarten to every school district, for every student in poverty.
- Doubled teacher reimbursement for classroom supplies.
- Require school boards to provide streamlined student learning objectives aimed at reducing teacher paperwork.
- Requirement that the Department of Education to pay certification costs of teachers.
- Mandate the establishment, and following, of a code of ethics for local school boards.
- Creates a model training program for local school boards.
- Establishment of a framework to remove elected school boards of chronically failing school districts.
- Ensure Reading Coaches are only required to do the job they were hired to do without distraction.
- Establish a workplace policy commitment that teachers are respected, may initiate disciplinary measures for persistently disruptive students, provided a safe/secure/orderly work environment, provided 30 minutes of unencumbered time, awarded additional compensation for work beyond their contract, elimination of excessive and burdensome paperwork, and support necessary to meet performance standards.
- Require districts to accurately report disciplinary issues that, in the past, have been manipulated to protect school statistics.
- Increased district spending flexibility in the absence of much needed comprehensive education funding reform.
- Expanding broadband coverage and access to the entire state of South Carolina.
- Reform the broken funding system that results in some districts spending over $24,000 per student for poor achievement, while others spend $9,300 per student for very good results.
- Proper and equitable distribution of the $10 Billion spent annually on public education in SC.
- Redirected $5 million of windfall revenue from SCETV to those school districts most damaged by the Index of Taxpaying Ability formula.
Dorchester District 2 is one of the districts in South Carolina most damaged by this formula.
- Allow public school districts to experiment, within public Schools of Innovation, with new and less regulated methods of education delivery.
I also believe in an equally strong and robust private, parochial, home, and charter school system so as to ensure the next generation can access delivery best suited for their individual and family needs. More on that here.
While I believe these are positive changes for students, parents, and teachers, not all have passed both houses of the General Assembly. More must be done. And none of these items fundamentally change the approach to education that is desperately needed.
But one thing is certain, we need quality teachers and engaged parents to make it happen.