COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Since the filing of a massive education reform bill, educators have been asking for their voices to be heard.
On Tuesday evening, they showed up in a big way.
Teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, administrators, and students packed three meeting rooms at the State House. Some of them testified in front of the House Education and Public Works subcommittee. The meeting lasted for a few hours.
“Insufficient pay, insufficient time, lack of support and lack of respect for the profession,” one teacher said listing his four main concerns.
Many who testified said they want to see an end to what they called, “unnecessary standardized testing.” The bill will remove four tests not required by federal guidelines. Some special education teachers say their students should not be forced to take these assessments.
“What I’m doing right now is not teaching. I’m testing,” said one special education teacher. “I told my administrator I officially changing my title to test administrator,”
More than 50 people testified. Some expressed concerns over the possible implementation of career bands for teacher pay. The bill said the state Department of Education would be asked to look into the change. They would report back to the General Assembly with their thoughts on it and recommendations. One teacher said this is worrisome. This could establish merit-based pay.
“This proposed legislation threatens teachers job security and livelihood when teacher recruitment and retention is at an all-time low,” one teacher said.
Others said they want to see improvements to safety in the classroom.
“Our teachers are in a situation where they are not protected. Where they have students who don’t value themselves and teachers.”
For many, salaries are a big issue. Money is the reason they’ve considered leaving the profession they felt called to.
“Love is not a currency. It cannot pay our bills. It cannot support our children,” one teacher said.
The son of a teacher advocated for a 10-percent raise.
“This will give my mom the opportunity to put food on the table without missing a rent or car payment,” he said. “It will give her the opportunity to move her kids out of a small apartment and into a house. Most importantly, it will give her the opportunity to live and not merely survive.”.