Education has now been officially targeted as the "scapegoat" for South Carolina's woes with current legislation in the House and Senate. For example, rather than address the overwhelming influence of poverty and its effect on our state and our children, Rep. Bakari Sellers would like to pass House Bill 3363, The Education Performance Accountability Act of 2011, to classify teaching positions and create a merit system of pay for teachers. A spokesman for our state superintendent feels that teachers should not have input in regards to this bill, as well.
Yes, we have budget challenges, but we should not forget that we are an abundant nation. We could reverse some of the ills of poverty if as much energy and focus was on its eradication — rather than "bash" teachers, administrators and public education as a whole and attempt to revamp an entire system without regard to the evidence or input from those in this system that many feel needs overhauling.
Legislators, let's focus on legislation to fund early childhood: K3 programs on an as-needed basis, K4 programs open to all. Let's address the gap at the beginning of a child's life and seek policies that help more students start on a level playing field. Teachers are not in the field of education primarily for money. Merit pay as an "incentive" to improve education is ineffective according to the research and is an insult to the profession as a whole.
I invite you to gather with those of us who wish for their voice to be heard at the State House steps on March 31 at 4 p.m. Together, let's work to improve the living conditions for all in our wonderful state and not misrepresent the role of teachers within challenges that include an entire society.
Laura J. Clinton