Governor Nikki Haley and State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais need a South Carolina history lesson before they discard the teacher salary scale. In 1945, the state instituted the salary scale based on degree level and years of teaching experience to promote teacher quality and fairness.
Gov. Haley states, “We are participating in the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative because this program offers a nationally recognized and respected credential that shows businesses that South Carolina has the workforce and expertise that they need in order to grow.” At the same time, the governor and state superintendent are devaluing advanced degrees from state teachers. How will that strategy encourage students to value and respect education from devalued teachers who may hold advanced degrees?
Are Haley and Zais ready to move South Carolina back into the pre-1945 dark ages? In 2008, U.S. high school graduates numbered at a stable, but unacceptable 85 percent. Bachelor degrees numbered at 27.7 percent and advanced degrees numbered at 10.2 percent. In the same year, South Carolina ranked behind in all those categories with high school graduates numbering 83.2 percent, bachelor degrees numbering 23.7 percent and advanced degrees numbering 8.5 percent. We are behind Georgia, Florida and North Carolina in these vital statistics for economic growth, development and job attraction.
Instead of devaluing education, we need a campaign in South Carolina that “Degrees Matter.” The S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the S.C. Department of Education, all educational institutions, all county and municipal governments and agencies should push to move our state out of the 19th century. Until we value education and degree attainment in South Carolina, we cannot move off the bottom of the list in education and economics.
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The devaluing of degree advancement allows the plantation mentality to continue in our great state.
The writer lives in Union.