The General Assembly began work on a new legislative session on January 12, 2016. PSTA is working hard to make sure public education takes priority during this session.

 Teacher Compensation

 Executive Director, Kathy Maness and Director of Governmental Affairs, Craig King have participated in meetings with the Department of Education to discuss teacher compensation. These meetings were a result of Kathy Maness requesting a proviso in last year’s budget to have education groups study teacher compensation. Superintendent Molly Spearman is supportive of increasing teacher pay.

 PSTA wants you to make your teacher voices heard. This year we have an increase in state revenue and we feel part of this money should be for teacher salary increases. The Ways and Means Public Education and Special Schools Subcommittee has begun work and they need to hear from you. The members are listed below. Please get in contact with them and encourage them to increase teacher pay.

 Ways and Means Public Education and Special Schools Subcommittee Contact 

Rep. Kenny Bingham: 803-734-3114 kennybingham@schouse.gov 

Rep. Mike Anthony: 803-734-3060 mikeanthony@schouse.gov 

Rep. Jackie Hayes: 803-734-3099 jackiehayes@schouse.gov

 Rep. Shannon Erickson: 803-734-3261 shannonerickson@schouse.gov

 

Governor Haley released her Executive Budget on January 15, 2016. Some highlights for public education include:

 -          $13.5 million for the Rural Teacher Initiative 

-          Increasing the Base Student Cost to $2300

  State Board of Education

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act. This allows more flexibility to states for teacher evaluation. As a result of this the State Board of Education adopted the following changes when they met on Wednesday, January 13,2016:

 Extend implementation timeline to 2018-19.

  1. Remove standardized test scores from student growth measures.
  2. Embed Student Learning Objectives as an artifact within the existing four domains rather than as a standalone piece.
  3. Authorize focus groups to gather feedback.

 Executive Director, Kathy Maness, testified during the full State Board meeting in support of the focus groups and how teachers’ voices should be heard during the groups.

 Bills to Watch 

House Bill 3849 by Rep. Bingham – This bill will exempt personally identifiable information in certain evaluations of public school educators and student teachers from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. This bill is on the Senate calendar. Senator Thurmond has placed his name on the bill.

 Senate Bill 533 by Sen. Hayes and others – This bill amends the "Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act of 2015" so as to change the deadline to before May 1 for issuing teacher contracts.  It also amends sections relating to notices of dismissal and conduct of related hearings, so as to provide the board may utilize a designee who must be a lawyer admitted to the South Carolina Bar and certified as a mediator in South Carolina. It provides this designee serves on behalf of the board with duties of evidence gathering and determination of admissibility of specific testimony in accordance with the law. The final determination in termination is still up to the board. This bill also amends sections relating to the scheduling of teacher dismissal hearings to extend the period for scheduling a hearing to forty-five (45) days, to provide that hearings are quasi-judicial, and to permit the use of hearsay evidence in certain circumstances. It amends the statute to reflect appeals from the board will go to the Administrative Law Court. This bill received a favorable report from the Senate Education Committee. Senator Kimpson placed a minority report on the bill and is holding it up on the Senate calendar.  

 

This will be an important year for public education. This is the time to stand up for our profession and our students and make teacher voices heard!