Education

SC senator tells York County crowd it’s unlikely education bill will pass this year

Education funding, teacher pay and too many standardized tests are some of the concerns facing York County region teachers.

Sen. Wes Climer (R-York) met with local teachers and residents in Rock Hill Monday for a town hall discussion on public education in South Carolina.

Climer said more changes are expected in the K-12 public education reform bill currently in the Senate. He said it is unlikely a bill will be passed this year.

“It’s still very much a work in progress,” Climer said. “I think this is, at best, a two-year conversation.”

Here are the highlights from Monday’s town hall:

Teacher voice

Climer said he recognized that teachers in South Carolina should have a voice in education reform.

“The overwhelming message I’ve received ... is that teachers are an extremely highly educated group of individuals and the education system in the state does a pretty lousy job of treating them that way,” he said.

One participant Monday said she worries policymakers aren’t considering teacher input in education reform decisions.

Town hall audience members were asked to participate in a text poll during the event Monday. Here are some of the results:

  • When asked if South Carolina is providing a high quality education for children, 55 percent of respondents in the audience answered “somewhat disagree.” For the same question applied to York County, more than half said “somewhat agree.” “We all know that York County is a pocket of excellence,” Climer said. “I think our community has a lot to offer in the education reform conversation.”
  • When asked what is the biggest issue facing education in York County, funding was a top answer along with growth.
  • When asked what is the biggest issue facing education in South Carolina, funding was again at the top along with equity, teachers and support.
  • Participants said issues facing teachers include classroom discipline, pay and paperwork/bureaucracy.
  • When asked what is the biggest challenge facing the education system, the number one answer was poverty, followed by funding and equity.
  • More than 80 percent of poll respondents said an increase in teacher pay should be about 5-10 percent when given that option compared to 3-5 percent or 1-3 percent.

Multiple audience members said they would be open to having administrators and state representatives observe them and other teachers in the classroom.

Testing

All poll respondents Monday night agreed that South Carolina is testing students too much.

Cllimer said he is in favor of giving fewer tests in South Carolina, but that standard tests will always be needed.

“There has to be some uniform standard by which districts can measure themselves against one another,” he said.

One participant said federal and state requirements often lead to more local tests as teachers must measure student progress before standardized test dates.

“One thing people don’t realize is the trickle down from mandated testing,” the participant said. “It forces us to have to do other testing, otherwise we could be held liable.”

Climer is hosting a second town hall discussion Monday in Fort Mill.

Want to go?

What: Wes Climer town hall on education

When: 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. on April 8

Where: Nation Ford High School auditorium, 1400 A O Jones Blvd in Fort Mill

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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