Thousands of teachers rally in Columbia for more funding, higher pay

Dorchester County News
DD2 Rallies for education reform

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – An estimated 10,000 people attended the #AllOutMay1 event in Columbia on Wednesday to rally for education reform.

Teachers began the day by rallying at the South Carolina Department of Education then marched to the State House.

Many said they were attending the rally because many felt like lawmakers had not done enough during the legislative session to make education reforms.

Some Dorchester District 2 teachers told News 2 that some of the changes they would like to see include more funding for the districts schools, more funding for mental health counselors and changes to the way schools are funded – such as changing Act 388, which exempts owner-occupied homes from paying operating taxes for local schools.

Rally organizing group, SC for Ed stated other requested reforms include a salary increase to make teacher pay competitive and reducing class sizes.

Oakbrook Elementary School teacher MaryRita Watson said she was not sure that reform may happen this year because the state legislative session is almost over but she hopes that the rally will send a message to state representatives.

“It might not change anything for this session, I actually would be surprised if it did, especially for us with funding because that hasn’t really been touched, so I hope that it will maybe not this year but in the future it’s going to make some big changes,” said Watson.

DD2 and Colleton County Schools were closed on the day of the rally because many of their teachers headed to the rally.

Students in DD2 will make the day up on June 7th.

Superintendent Joseph Pye, school board members and district staff attended the rally wearing shirts that said “Team Dorchester” and “Unstoppable” to support the districts teachers.

“I came to stand in line, holding arms with my 1,000 plus employees who I know are here,” said Pye. “There hearts are full of hope. They’re rallying around many years of not having any attention, not having anyone consider their needs.”

In the afternoon, DD2 teachers met with Representatives Con Chellis and Mandy Kimmons to discuss  reform.

“These sessions are huge because you get direct input from the teachers and they can tell you where to go from here with the bill,” said Chellis.

“I want teachers to know that there voice is being heard and that they need to stay at the table and be a part of the conversation,” said Kimmons.

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