House passes extensive education reform bill after hours of debate

House passes extensive education reform bill after hours of debate

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After six hours of debate, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to pass a massive education reform bill Wednesday evening.

The South Carolina Career Opportunity and Access For All Act passed by a 113-4 vote. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) filed the 80-page bill in January.

Supporters of the bill said, if this is signed into law, it would make a positive change to the education system in South Carolina. The bill would raise teacher starting salaries to $35,000, remove some unnecessary testing, and make improvements to Read to Succeed.

About 40 amendments were brought to the floor Wednesday to be debated. Some of the amendments lawmakers approved included a Teachers’ Bill of Rights, a 30-minute scheduled break for teachers, full-time librarians during their workday, and a look into shrinking class sizes in struggling schools.

Education and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Rita Allison said the hours of testimony from teachers helped shape the changes made to this bill.

“This state is only as strong as its weakest link. We want to make sure every child in this state has an opportunity to a quality education,” she said.

Those who voted against the bill said they felt the process was rushed. The bill will be heading to the Senate for debate.

The companion bill S.419 remains in subcommittee.

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