South Carolina Senate Republicans are leading the way in improving education for all children, teachers, administrators and parents in South Carolina! Despite eight weeks of delay from those wishing to preserve the status quo, Senate Republicans were able to pass a comprehensive education reform proposal that addresses many of state’s most critical needs in education.
“The Senate made education reform its top priority this year and has worked diligently for 8 weeks to craft a bill that provides many important improvements to South Carolina’s public schools,” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey says. “I’m hopeful the House of Representatives to continue this important work of supporting our teachers and improving educational opportunities for our students.”
Chairman of the Senate Education Committee Greg Hembree says, “In my eight years in the Senate, I have never seen this body work harder on any single issue than the work we have done on this education reform effort. Although the Senate has passed S.419, we still have work ahead of us…when we complete our work on this bill, our work will not stop. The hard work of building an education system that gives every student in South Carolina the opportunity for a world-class education never ends, and we will continue that work, every year.
The Senate version of the bill:
- Sets policy commitment for educations, known as Educator Fundamentals for Professional Excellence, to provide proper workplace expectations, including:
- Policies to provide faculty by fully respected by school and district officials.
- Ability for teachers to initiate disciplinary measures of persistently disruptive students.
- Expectation of a safe, secure, orderly work environment free of dangers, hazards or threats.
- Guaranteed at least 30-minute unencumbered duty-free lunch period for elementary school teachers free of planning and instruction.
- Additional compensation for work time required above and beyond stated contract days and responsibilities as teachers.
- And be free of excessive and burdensome paperwork related to disciplinary actions, district evaluation procedures, and other administrative inquires that prevent the fulfillment of teachers’ primary directive to implement effective instruction for their students.
- Provide support and assistance to meet performance standards and professional expectations.
- Eliminates three state-mandated tests: social studies in 5th and 7th grades and science in 8th grade.
- Expands 4K to every district in the state for students who are in families under 185% of poverty.
- Doubles the reimbursement amount teachers receive for classroom supplies from $275 to $550.
- Requires the Department of Education to pay initial certification costs for all new public school teachers.
- Offers personal finance elective as requirement for economics course.
- Allows students to retain their eligibility for Palmetto Scholarship for up to two years if attending a technical college.
- Expands Palmetto and Life Enhancement scholarships, an additional $2500 per year, to college students majoring in education.
- Mandates School Boards adopt follow code of ethics which must be submitted to the Department of Education and followed.
- Creates a model training program for local school board members including, but not limited to, the powers duties, and responsibilities of board members; policy development; board relations; district finance; ethics compliance; nepotism; conflicts of interest and community relations.
- Establishes a framework for turning around failing schools and allows for removal of elected school boards in chronically failing districts.
- Provides summer reading camps for students after Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades.
- Protects student data and information collected, to be held personal and confidential with state and federal privacy laws.
- Allows district flexibility for mileage reimbursement for teachers.
- Requires school boards to provide a streamlined template for student-learning objectives (SLO’s) further reducing teacher paperwork.
- Creates a teachers preparation data dashboard to give an easily accessible source of information for teachers related to professional assistance.
- Ensures reading coaches do only the job they were employed to do.
- Adds 5 day scheduling flexibility to do KRA (Kindergarten Readiness Assessment)
- Reauthorizes the National Board Certification program for teachers.
- Requires two-thirds vote by the Board of Education to receive schools of innovation approval.
- Makes structural changes to schools of innovation for consistent statewide compliance with schools of innovation guidelines.
- Mandates local school districts must ensure completion of semester exams prior to a scheduled December break.
- Eliminates the Education Oversight Committee.
- Cements the GPA for lottery scholarships to allow students to remain eligible on the current ten point scale.
- Permits students to receive additional SCWINS Scholarship if attending a two-year public technical college if the student is majoring in a critical workforce area program defined by SBTCE and is receiving a LTAP scholarship or meets the income eligibility guidelines for free-reduced meals; conditioned upon the student receiving career and guidance counseling and other compliance guidelines.
Governor Henry McMaster issued the following comments following passage of S.419:
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