SC for Ed teachers advocate for change in the state’s education system

COLUMBIA (WOLO): A protest planned by teacher’s organization SC for Ed was called off Monday out of fear for members’ safety after the group received threatening messages online. 

Instead, many teachers gathered in small groups throughout the community to make their voices heard. South Carolina teachers say they’ve had enough. SC for Ed members wore red and wrote letters to state leaders Monday advocating for their profession. 

“It’s a chance for us to talk about some issues that we’re facing, things that are going well, things that we’d love to see change,” said Richland 1 teacher, Dottie Adams. 

An underfunded education system, a pandemic, and last week’s executive order from Governor Henry McMaster, teachers say all just added on to a decade of mistreatment. 

Founder and board member of SC for Ed, Lisa Ellis said, “the mask optional ordinance was just the tipping point of a really rough year for teachers where we weren’t prepared, we weren’t protected. We were villainized from the get-go because we wanted to make sure teachers and students were safe going back to the classroom.”

Richland Two teacher, Steve Nuzum, says while the pandemic has created its own problems, it’s also revealed how bad some issues in the state’s education system already were. He hoped this year would bring bipartisanship and improvements to the classroom. “We saw a few small improvements, but I think what we mostly saw was a lot of our state leaders just using the pandemic as sort of a political opportunity rather than as an opportunity to improve schools.”

“Now our teachers are being threatened. The only reason they’re being threatened is because of the political  divisiveness of the COVID issue and the individual responsible for stirring that is our governor,” explains Senator Mike Fanning (D, Fairfield).

Senator Fanning says the lesson here is getting teacher input before making policy change in our education system.

“My message to teachers is my colleagues need to do a better job listening to you before we do something. We have no clue what it takes to educate and to teach in a classroom with 28 7th graders, but you teachers, you do know, and we need to start listening to you and that’s what today’s all about.”

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