COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A bill to reform education in the state is moving quickly through the Senate. With a vote possibly coming in a few days, teachers and educators across South Carolina are calling for action.
Both the Senate and House have education reform bills. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to move their bill, S.419, forward, as a special order. This means the bill is the top priority for discussion within the Senate.
Bill S.419, also known as the SC Career Opportunity and Access for All Act, addresses issues like standardized tests and ways to hold failing school districts accountable. It has undergone a series of changes since it was first introduced, including an amendment to add five extra days to the school year.
Despite trying to work with lawmakers, SC for ED members believe this bill doesn't do enough to address teachers' needs.
Trever Etminan, a Lowcountry representative of the group, says the senate bill fails to explain things like class sizes and teacher pay.
"We have teachers leaving the classroom every single day. It does not address things like teacher salary, in fact, it adds days to the teacher's work calendar without specifying if we will be compensated," Etminan said.
Darlington County Democratic Sen. Gerald Malloy says the Senate bill is massively different than the House bill. He believes that by pushing the bill forward as a top priority, it will give the Senate an opportunity to discuss it further and make the necessary amendments.
"I think we're waiting for the debate to occur and I think there are going to be numerous amendments," Malloy said. "It's hard to take a position on this bill until you know exactly what the amendments are going to say."
A petition to stop the bill from passing has gotten over 2,200 signatures online. Some people believe lawmakers need to work with teachers to come up with an entirely new piece of legislation.
“This is the bill that adds even more bureaucracy to education oversight in the state of South Carolina,”Etminan said. “I don know if teachers at this point believe they’re being listened to.”
The Senate will start discussions about the bill on Thursday. A vote could be made shortly after that.
SC for ED will also have a lobby day with lawmakers on Jan. 29. If this bill passes, teachers may turn that day into a protest.