PSTA Legislative Update

March 2, 2020

 

The Senate passed S419 referred to as the Education Bill on Thursday, March 5th after eight weeks of debate.  We appreciate the Senate taking the time to address education reform in South Carolina. PSTA worked with Senators to have amendments added to the bill that align with our 2020 Legislative Agenda.

 

An amendment was added to include thirty minutes of unencumbered planning time.  We have heard from many teachers who have no planning time during the school day or their time is taken for mandatory meetings and this is a start to improve the situation.

 

An amendment adding a Lottery Enhancement for students majoring in education was also added.  Many students are graduating with overwhelming student loan debt. By adding this scholarship enhancement, they will be able to reduce the amount of debt they have accrued when they graduate.

 

PSTA has advocated for the reinstatement of the National Board stipend since it was removed in 2018.  Through conversations with Senator Davis who introduced the amendment and other Senators who met with National Board Certified Teachers on the PSTA/SC National Board Network sponsored National Board Hill Day, we were able to show that the stipend is one way to retain accomplished teachers in the classroom.

 

We heard from many educators about concerns regarding the number of artifacts required for a teacher to show evidence of mastery for a third grader to be promoted to fourth grade under the Read to Succeed Act.  PSTA worked hard to have this portion of the bill removed.

 

The bill includes Summer Reading Camps for first and second graders.  This will allow intervention to occur prior to the third grade high-stakes testing.

 

Four Year Old Kindergarten classes were expanded in the bill for at-risk students.

 

Teacher supply money was increased from $275 to $550.

 

The bill was amended weeks ago to return local control to school boards to determine school start date.  This past week, the bill was amended again to change the date to August 15th statewide.  PSTA will be working in the House and will need your help to convince Representatives to allow local school districts to determine their school start date.

 

The Senate voted to abolish the Education Oversight Committee (EOC).

 

S419 now goes to the House of Representatives where more debate will occur. Just as we have been there for the last eight weeks, we will be at the State House as this bill continues to be debated.