CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Though South Carolina teachers have a full day of events planned for their statehouse rally, they have to get there first.
Some teachers such as Hanahan High School teacher Kat Low are taking a bus leaving from North Charleston City Hall which was funded through a GoFundMe account.
I think teachers want education to be the best that it can be and teachers work hard to make education the best it can be every day, Lowe said. We want to be part of the conversation here going forward here about what we can do to make education better.”
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Low and her fellow teachers raised $1,180 in their GoFundMe, which was $180 more than there $1,000 goal. The highest donation received was $190 and it was $20 to sponsor one teachers spot on the bus.
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There are 54 seats on the bus which will be made up of mostly Charleston and Berkeley County teachers along with some supporters.
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – As Lowcountry teachers prepared for Wednesdays education rally at the Statehouse in Columbia, many prepared homemade signs as part of their protest.
Over the past couple of months weve really tried to engage the state in being a part of that and so today is really about us reflecting and helping people reflect on what we can do to make education better, Low said.
Low also went to Columbia in February to push for education reform. She found many who had the same idea.
Another had the phrase Fighting for THEM with a red heart surrounded by the first names of students.
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To hear them say the same thing I was talking about, it really resonated with me and made me realize Im not alone,” she said. “We want this to be the best.
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Thousands of teachers are expected in Columbia Wednesday including some from Dorchester District 2. The district decided to offer use of its activity buses, which cost roughly $13 per teacher. The district has also already set a make-up day for June 7.
South Carolina teachers have gathered outside the states Department of Education offices on Senate Street, ahead of marching down to the State House to call on lawmakers to increase their pay and approve reforms that improve the states public schools.
Richland School District 2 announced they would be closing schools tomorrow for that rally, the event was one of the big topics of discussion during Wednesday nights school board meeting.
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Todays rally is expected to bring to the states capitol more than 4,000 teachers, their students, parents and advocates.
Teachers say the protest is not just about raising teacher pay — its also about advocating for better working conditions.
Video: Richland District 1 cancels classes due to teacher rally
Richland One, Two School Districts to close for teacher rally Wednesday
What does that mean? Less testing, a daily break for lunch, to use the restroom or pull together lesson plans. Teachers also say they want more support from their school district leaders, help with disruptive students and, especially, smaller class sizes.
SC for Ed founder Lisa Ellis tells the crowd there are 53,000 teachers in South Carolina, and we need all 53,000 here.
Speeches are over. Teachers are invited to continue the rally and lobby their lawmakers inside. They are also encouraged to take advantage of discounts being offered for teachers by local businesses today.
The teachers rally at the S.C. State House wraps up with a speech from state Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield, who is a former educator himself.
Fanning told the crowd, You blew peoples minds today, and called on them to go inside the State House after the rally and make sure they hear your voice.
DD2 is second from the bottom for funding in our state, but school officials say theyve done a lot with what theyve been given and are one of the highest performing school districts in South Carolina.
Fanning also challenged the crowd to ask every single legislator to spend a day with them in the classroom and then make sure their voices are heard at the ballot box.
A young woman in the crowd appears to have gotten dehydrated and needed medical attention. She was alert as she was wheeled away.
School board chair Tanya Robinson said its her hope personally that legislators soften their hearts and listen to teachers Wednesday and work towards changes if that means just small steps forward.
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Rep. Ivory Thigpen, D-Richland, compares the red-clad marchers to the Red Sea in the story of Moses. He leads the crowd in a chant of I vote, I teach.
School board members went on to say this is about so much more than teachers taking the day off, that it is really a representation of their professionalism as they speak out for needed changes.
Mike Burgess, the River Bluff high school teacher who helped write the Teachers Bill of Rights introduced this year, welcomes the crowd to the worlds largest faculty meeting.
Everything we hold dear… is made possible by a quality education, he says. Burgess says the state government has failed to make that possible.
Those who have tried to shame and minimize you into not showing up today say its all about you. Its not, Ott says. Youre doing this for the students.
There are a lot of people in that building who wont come out to face you, but they hear you, Ott said.
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Sellers takes a swipe at state lawmakers for considering tax breaks for the Carolina Panthers to move their headquarters to South Carolina, while being unwilling to spend more on schools.
Says he will organize a political PAC that will target lawmakers who are not working to improve teaching conditions.
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Former state Rep. Bakari Sellers compares the crowd to 1960s lunch-counter sit-ins. It was dismissed as a college fad, Sellers said. (But) the seeds of dissent have fallen on fertile soil.
Inside the State House, S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas tells The State that teachers protesting the education bill his House passed are acting on misinformation.
Teachers plan to head to the statehouse on Wednesday for #AllOutMay1 rally
Beatrice King, a member of the Richland District One school board, says many in the Legislature are completely disregarding the input of teachers, education professionals and, yes, school boards, when an education bill is drafted.
We dont have dark money, were not part of an out-of-state organization, Ellis says. We were started by teachers, for teachers.
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You did your best to the students of South Carolina despite the lack of resources, funding and support. You shape the future of South Carolina every day, Ellis says.
You are a vital part of improving our state by investing in its most precious resource, our children. Do not let anyone take your voice away again.
I got to the point where I was ready to walk away, Ellis said. Then I started a Facebook group and discovered I was not alone.
The S.C. Department of Public Safety estimates 10,000 people are currently rallying at the S.C. State House.
Approximately 10,000 at the #AllOutMay1 #SCforEd rally today at the SC Statehouse. @BPS_CRO @ColumbiaPDSC pic.twitter.com/03di948FfQ
Speakers are lining up to speak before the thousands of people at the rally, while state lawmakers are watching on from atop the State House steps.
Teachers have arrived at the front steps of the S.C. State House along Gervais Street. Speakers are set to begin at 10:30 a.m.
Sarah Burke, special ed teacher at Dutch Fork Elementary, is marching with teachers from the Department of Education building to the State House.
If (legislators) dont hear this crowd, they need to go see some of my deaf and hard-of-hearing teachers and they can help them, she says.
Teachers are leaving in record numbers, Fanning said. Last year, 6,000 teachers left. All the universities only put out 1,800 teachers.
State Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield, criticizes state Superintendent Molly Spearman, who said teachers are walking out on their obligations for holding this rally on a school day.
Your own state superintendent shamed you about coming today, Fanning said. You deserve to be welcomed to your state Department of Education, but she turned her back on you.
Kyle Brantley, a Blythewood High School student, spoke to rallygoers outside the Department of Education building Wednesday morning in support of his teachers who are marching.
Our teachers are vital to society, and its time we started to treat them as such, he said. While the difficulty of teaching has increased, the salary has not.
As of midnight, some 6,700 people had registered to attend the May 1 rally at the State House, organizers say.