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TWISC: Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman on Education Reform Bills

March 4, 2019 - Posted in This Week in South Carolina by Tara Shepherd

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman sits down with host Gavin Jackson to discuss the state of education and the most recent debate on the state omnibus education bill that will be debated in the House next week.

Highlights:

  • School consolidation, increasing teacher salaries, giving teachers a greater voice, and improvement to the read to succeed program are vital measurements of the bill’s success.
  • Spearman has set a goal that every school will have a school resource officer, mental health counselor, or access to tele psychiatry by 2020. “We have 350 schools out of 1,200 plus that don’t have resource officers, but with additional funding we should be getting really close to covering every school in the state,” Spearman said.
  • The biggest ranking according to Spearman is, “the final outcome of are our students ready to go out into the world.”
  • The bill will reduce testing and assessments so that teachers can focus on teaching.

 

The bill that was discussed Wednesday by the house education committee addresses many issues that need be corrected. Spearman says changes are being made to several pieces of legislation including education accountability and the read to succeed act.

There have been tensions, especially for teachers who felt like they did not have a say in the bill. Spearman believes that the concerns from teachers have been mitigated. “The bill has improved and is continuing to improve. Teachers and citizens have been heard, and changes have been made, and are still being made as we go through the process.”

In order to elevate teacher’s voices in South Carolina, Spearman says they are adding a teacher on the State Board of Education. By doing this, teachers will have a part in decisions that affect them in the classroom.

The emergency takeover model used in lower-performing school districts is, “different than anything going on across the country. We are building capacity with the people who live there. The moral is better and children are more engaged,” Spearman said.

Spearman emphasizes that she wants students to be prepared. Not just for the work force but for life. “One of our best successes,” Spearman said. “Those opportunities are growing and high school students are taking advantage of it.” She discusses industry certification program that motivates students and offers hands on experiences.

Looking forward:

The House will debate and is expected to pass its version of the bill the first week of March. The Seante contines to work on its version of the bill and has hearings scheduled around the state this month. Funding reform, however, is a heavier lift that has been started but won’t be tackled until next session.

 

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