Higher teacher pay, fewer tests and bipartisanship: What’s not to like, Fort Mill rep says about schools bill

South Carolina Legislators including Raye Felder sit behind microphones in a hearing room at the SC State House.
Rep. Raye Felder (third from left) invites constituents to register comments on a proposed SC education overhaul bill.

FORT MILL — While South Carolina lawmakers wrestle with a sweeping public education reform bill, the public is getting an opportunity to weigh in before any legislation comes up for a vote.

The bill, called the “South Carolina Career Opportunity and Access For All Act,” would raise minimum salaries for teachers, create a Student Bill of Rights and roll back standard testing, among other measures. S.C. Rep Raye Felder (R-Dist. 26) said the bill has the support of Republicans and Democrats in the GOP-dominated House.

“South Carolinians should be proud of the level of bi-partisan support this legislation has received,” Felder, who chairs the S.C. House K-12 Education Subcommittee, said in a news release.

Rep. Mandy Powers Norell (D-Dist. 44), whose district includes part of Fort Mill and Indian Land, said in a Facebook Post that she supports the bill and sought to debunk, point by point, what she sees as some misperceptions.

Meanwhile, Felder outlined what she considers key components of the bill.

“This 84-page comprehensive education reform bill will tackle fundamental changes needed to modernize our education system,” Felder said in the news release, adding it “ensures every student has highly qualified teachers, excellent principal leadership, and a system that puts student’s success first. Elements of the bill Felder highlighted in her statement include:

• Make sure third graders are promoted to the next grade level with the ability to read.

• Increase the minimum starting salary of teachers to $35,000 next school year and provide an across-the-board pay raise for all teachers with available funds.

• Eliminate three end-of-year standardized tests in elementary schools.

• Require technical colleges to develop a common admission score forstudents across the state.

• Require school boards to adopt ethics policies and additional training.

•  Improve communication efforts from preschool through college by creating a Zero to 20 Committee which will be overseen by the governor.

Starting salaries for teachers range from $28,000 for teachers with a bachelors degree, to nearly $38,000 for those who earned a doctorate, according to the state’s education website. Most first-year teachers come into the profession with a bachelors and some go on to earn post graduate degrees after starting their careers.

Felder encourages the public to register their comments and opinions while the bill works its way toward a vote.

“Members of the K-12 Education Subcommittee have held hearings to hear compelling testimony from county officials, teachers and parents across the state and we are working to incorporate their ideas into the bill. We will hold more hearings on this bill this month to get more input from the public about this vital legislation. If you cannot attend these hearings, we still want to hear from you!” her release states. She provided a link for a public survey: https://goo.gl/forms/AoM1yVpyr7hR43a02

Felder also invites constituents to contact her directly.

“Your feedback is important!” she said in the news release. “You can reach me with your questions any time at 803-547-6715 or via email at raye26@comporium.com. You can follow me online via my website: VoteRaye.com, Facebook at facebook.com/VoteRaye or on Twitter at twitter.com/FortMillRaye.”

To read the entire bill, click here.

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