S.C. gubernatorial candidate Senator Vincent Sheheen talks with teachers in Myrtle Beach

08/06/2014 11:15 PM

08/06/2014 11:43 PM

S.C. gubernatorial candidate Senator Vincent Sheheen told Horry County teachers on Wednesday that he’d like to see educators more involved in making policies that affect public schools across the state.

Sheheen spent about an hour meeting with six area teachers in a cozy conference room at the Ferguson Law Firm in Myrtle Beach. He was visiting the area to talk about how to improve public education in South Carolina.

Jude Hunt, a math teacher at North Myrtle Beach High School, told Sheheen it’s often frustrating that everyone has suggestions about how teachers should teach, and said you don’t see “a police officer telling a doctor what to do.”

“Education in my viewpoint is one of the few professions where so many other people seem to know all of the answers but the people in the profession don’t know anything,” Jude Hunt said. “People that are making the decisions with education, in most instances, have never been in a public school ... it is frustrating at times.”

Sheheen said that’s something he’s heard before.

“I think its absolutely critical that you’re at the table,” he said.

He said he’d like to see one policy used by the many bodies that govern public education and wants to create a council made of teachers that he said would be “a permanent entity that will allow you to be able to a participant,” in lawmaking decisions.

Chaney Adams, a spokeswoman for Governor Nikki Haley, said Haley’s education plan passed earlier this year should lead to improvements.

“Governor Haley developed a sweeping education reform package which won widespread praise from educators and bipartisan support for its passage this year,” Adams said. “The Haley education reforms will lift up students in all parts of our state, especially in traditionally overlooked rural and poor areas, with a critical focus on reading skills and technology. Governor Haley has proven that she makes a difference for students, parents, and teachers, and we welcome Senator Sheheen’s support.”

Vickie Tomko, a media specialist at the Academy for Arts, Science and Technology said teachers of science and math can be hard to find, and said the salaries may not encourage math and science majors to pursue teaching careers.

“I personally was glad when my child came home and said she wanted to be an accountant,” Tomko said.

Sheheen said if elected, he’d like to see South Carolina teachers make the national average within five years of becoming governor. He also said voluntary, 4-year-old kindergarten should be offered across the state to any parent wanting to enroll a child. Currently, such programs have limited availability.

Sheheen said he hopes to improve public education in South Carolina by “getting back to basics.”

“Let teachers teach, move away the obsession with standardized testing and pay teachers a decent salary that is encouraging and treat you with respect,” he said.

Dreama Hunt, a special education teacher at North Myrtle Beach High School, said she was a fan of Sheheen’s before the discussion Wednesday, and likes him more now.

“As an educator and parent of children in Horry County I certainly support his platform for education,” she said. “I think like Vincent does, that we need to move public schooling in a positive direction.”

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