Politics & Government

SC teachers planning May 1 walkout to ‘stand up’ for better pay, school reforms

S.C. teachers are again planning to leave their classrooms and march at the State House after they say their demands for school and pay improvements have fallen on “deaf ears.”

The grassroots S.C. teachers’ group SCforED — which has amassed a Facebook following of more than 24,000 since its inception a year ago — is organizing the protest on May 1, almost a year after teachers marched on the State House to demand higher pay.

As of late Monday, 408 people had registered to march, but it is anyone’s guess how many teachers will stay home from their classrooms that day.

“After nearly a year of engaging with policy makers, we have reached a point where educator voices have fallen on deaf ears,” SCforED wrote in an official statement. “This inaction continues to compound the current issues of teacher recruitment and retention.”

The protest is planned as S.C. lawmakers run out of time to pass proposed reforms to improve South Carolina’s dismal public school system.

Teachers are set to receive at least a 4% pay raise next year, and lawmakers are working on a plan to give them a daily 30-minute break and eliminate at least three state-required social studies and science tests.

But other proposed improvements likely won’t pass this year, and teachers have bemoaned that a sweeping education reform bill passed by the House was written without their input and ignores major problems for teachers and schools. That bill has stalled in the Senate, which has instead pitched a teacher raise and smaller, piecemeal reforms.

The May 1 protest would be the first since January, when about 250 teachers from across the state left their classrooms to lobby lawmakers as the House debated its education overhaul.

“We know it is a sacrifice for educators to be out of their classrooms; however, not participating in this event will only allow the cycle of detrimental educational policy to continue in our state,” SCforED’s statement said. “Educators, now is the time to stand up for our students. It is time to stand up for ourselves.”

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Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.