Educators and education supporters from all over the state filled the entire front lawn of the statehouse late Wednesday afternoon, calling on state lawmakers to better support public education funding, even in this disparate economy.
Olde English Consortium Director Mike Fanning emceed the event and energized the crowd with the flair of a lively minister. Fanning said that an error between state agencies may cause the state’s General Fund budget to be down $60 million dollars, and he insisted that the shortfall not come out of the funding for public education. He told the crowd that senators were meeting right in front of them and that the voice of public education should be heard loud and clear. The crowd shouted, “Enough is enough, enough is enough!” and carried similar signs.
President of the National Parent Teachers Association, Chuck Saylors, a South Carolina parent, says that those lawmakers who don’t support public education should be remembered on election day. The crowd roared.
“We’re in a day and time now when we have lost the mentality of a statesman, and all we have is politicians. The money is there. They have to find the courage to find it.”
President-elect of the South Carolina Education Association Jackie Hicks represented public school teachers. She said that education funding also draws business and jobs to the state.
(Hicks at education rally MP3 1:29)
Jackie Hicks at education rally
Fourteen hundred fewer public school teachers are employed statewide than in 2009 and many more positions would be cut under the House budget plan.
South Carolina State Teacher of the Year Bryan Coburn said that school would be the real victims of budget cuts. He said that cuts will mean a reduction in text books and classes, and an increase in class size.
(Cobrn at education rally MP3 3:34)
Coburn at education rally
Clover High School Junior Lindsay Richardson was the one student who took the podium. She said she knew that the supporters there Wednesday cared about students, but she questioned how much lawmakers care.
(Richardson at education rally MP3 3:36)
Lindsay Richardson at education rally