COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A group representing teachers across the state is hoping for several policy changes as lawmakers gear up for the upcoming legislative session.
SC for Ed was established in May of 2018 after teachers say they were frustrated and disheartened with the many challenges teachers face, including low pay and unreasonable hours.
The group’s founder, Lisa Ellis, tells WIS-TV that she realized just how many teachers could relate to these issues after creating the SC for Ed Facebook page. She says in the beginning, the page garnered 1,000 new likes every day just in the first couple of weeks. Today, they’ve reached nearly 20,000 members.
Their primary focus is advocating for change at the policy level. Already, there have been almost 50 pre-filed bills which focus on education in the upcoming legislative session. SC for Ed is choosing to focus on seven of those, including a 5% salary increase for teachers across the state.
“The first and foremost is salary increase. We hear from teachers all over the place – anywhere from first and second year teachers, but also teachers that have been there 15 and 18 years and they cannot make ends meet because of cost of living increases, rising health care,” Ellis said.
Teachers are also pushing for a new Teacher Bill of Rights, which will protect teachers from speaking out against the issues they face.
Ellis said that on the one hand, teaching is “one of the most rewarding experiences to see growth in students and to see them just succeed, and realize that they can succeed, but then on the other hand with all of the mandates and all of the extra bureaucracy and paperwork, it is the most frustrating job because a lot of times, we are asked to do things that are not in the best interest of students and that can be a very frustrating place to be as a teacher.”
According to the state's Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, the proposed 5% salary increase would put South Carolina teachers closer to the average salary for teachers across the Southeast.
This is still more than $5,000 less than the average salary for teachers across the country, according to the Southern Regional Education Board.