Lawmakers postpone debate on massive education reform bill until January

VIDEO: Lawmakers postpone debate on massive education reform bill until January

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) – Lawmakers have decided when they hold their special session at the State House in a few weeks, they will not debate or vote on the massive education reform bill.

Which means the bill will stay where it is until the legislative session picks back up again in January 2020. Some teachers say it might actually be a good thing.

At the start of the session, there were high hopes to turn things around.

A massive education bill passed the House and then stalled in the Senate. But some say progess was still made this year and believe 2020 will be a big year.

Craig King used to teach third grade in Orangeburg County.

“It was just great to see our former colleagues down in Orangeburg and across the state, speaking up and being a part of the political process,” he said.

He is now with the Palmetto State Teachers Association and said the focus this year at the State House was indeed education. He said while some might consider this year’s session a failure since sweeping education reform didn’t happen, the big thing to come out of this session might be what happened outside the State House: Teachers making their voices heard.

“I think going forward you are going to see more policy makers and teachers engaging with one another,” King said.

Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg) agrees. She didn’t vote in favor of the reform bill when it was in the House. She said she is glad the Senate decided to take their time with the legislation.

“This is a once-in-a-twenty-year opportunity to really deal with public education. I think we made a mistake by not involving teachers,” she said.

Cobb-Hunter believes this month’s historic rally at the State House is already making an impact. The House added a proposal to the budget plan which would require schools to get permission anytime they go over state set student-teacher ratios in their classrooms.

“Had 10,000 people not shown up out there last week we wouldn’t have passed that amendment,” she said.

SC For Ed says they will continue conversations with lawmakers throughout and the summer. They are also planning a bill writing tour over the summer to get input from educators all over the state and present their own bill to lawmakers.

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