COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - On the heels of a massive rally in North Carolina by teachers calling for more classroom resources, support for education and better pay, South Carolina educators and state workers had their voice heard Saturday morning through a call to action.
The South Carolina State Association employees and the South Carolina Education Association came together to highlight what pays and equities there are for state employees, public servants, teachers, compared to private sectors as well as states around the area.
The goal is to bring awareness of these issues to the public eye and a hope to have lawmakers ensure equitable funding for education and public services.
With pay being low in these professions, officials say it's hard to attract younger adults to go into these jobs because the pay is not there as well as the frustrations and workload that goes along with that.
"State employees, teachers, they're hurting financially they have to work second jobs just to make ends meet to pay rent," Jim Manning, a member of the South Carolina State Employee's Association board of directors, said. "They're coming out of college, they need to purchase even a used car to go to work, and the starting salaries and the pay raises are not keeping up for them just to have a livable wage."
Many teachers Saturday said they work other jobs outside of their teaching profession, some even have three to four jobs.
Kayla Lawson, a teacher from Newberry said that not only does she work as a teacher, but she works as a bus aid, a color guard instructor at a local high school, and sells products online to "just make ends meet."
Carlton B. Washington, Executive director for SC state employees association says "education and state services are failing and today it's about messaging the public, messaging our leaders that there is a crisis."
According to research from CERRA, at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, there were more than 500 vacant teaching positions across the state.
"That may not sound like a lot until you apply a 20 to one student teacher ratio to that and you're looking at nearly 10,000 students that are opening the school year without having a qualified teacher in front of them," Patrick Kelly, a high school advanced placement U.S. history teacher, said.
Protesters say these issues go beyond the money.
"Not only is this about us as teachers and wanting more for us, it's also about wanting more for our students and to always keep the kids in mind," Lawson said.
Protestors and organization leaders put together a letter that will be sent to Governor McMaster detailing what they wish to see change, as well as a request for McMaster to meet with some of the leaders over the summer for a summit.