As S.C. educators of note, we represent many classroom teachers across the state in calling for our legislators to move beyond the partisan politics of today to embrace a better future for South Carolina's children.
We are acutely aware of the financial devastation our state is experiencing. However, it is simply unfathomable that our legislators expect South Carolina's statewide education community to sustain momentum while struggling to absorb $750 million in cuts over a two-year span. These cuts already have a negative impact. For example:
More than 20 school districts have already implemented furloughs for teachers and administrators.
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This school year, 1,400 jobs have been lost. An additional 1,700 jobs are targeted for the upcoming school year.
Classrooms are, once again, overcrowded, making individual attention difficult.
Popular programs - from driver's education to the arts - face additional cuts.
Critical after-school learning centers, reading support programs, and educational field trips are being cut.
Stipends for teacher supplies may be less than the $275 received in the past.
The 2010-11 budget proposal projects a base student cost of $1,630 - regressing to a level not seen since 1995.
Education Improvement Act funds, already cut by $112 million, face another cut of $9 million.
National Board certified teachers are losing ground as the loan for National Board certification is being targeted for elimination and the entire program, effective July 1, will be closed to new participants.
Voucher advocates, financed by out-of-state political operatives, are still seeking public school funding for private schools.
In short, enough is enough, the situation is untenable. To protect our students and the future, we have to stop slashing today's funding for education. The future depends on the academic growth of today's students.
We propose that our legislators
Revisit Act 388. The 2006 change in South Carolina's tax system has been devastating. It hurts local school districts as well as the state's economic development. Fix this mistake.
Work on a comprehensive review of tax policy with the goal of providing fair and equitable funding for every public school in South Carolina.
Support local funding and flexibility.
Oppose any legislation that would mandate new programs, spending, or financial obligations.
Increase the lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax to the national average; use portions of the proceeds to prevent the loss of more K-12 teacher jobs.
We know what it takes to educate South Carolina's students. Support us. Stop the cuts. South Carolina's recovery and success depend on it.