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Local “red” marchers say event was a success

Local teachers who walked in Columbia on Wednesday, May 1st as part of the statewide “Go Red” pro-teacher march called the rally a “success,” saying they hope it spawns change in classrooms throughout South Carolina.
“It was a peaceful and classy day, full of positive support from Team Colleton County,” said Tiffany Pearson, a 36-year-old educator at Colleton County Middle School.
Pearson participated in the May 1st event. She was one of an estimated 10,000 teachers from across South Carolina who participated in the rally.
“It was empowering and encouraging,” she said, of the event. “People stopped in the street and thanked us, thanked teachers for what we do.”
Teachers from across the state who chose to participate in the rally marched for several specific changes. These changes include teachers statewide receiving a 10-percent salary increase, more mental health counselors provided in school districts, and smaller classroom sizes.
S.C. Legislature has already approved a 4-percent salary increase to teachers across the state; however, the teacher organizations promoting the May 1st march on the Capitol say the 4-percent increase is not enough.
In a prior interview with this newspaper, Pearson said the walk was not teachers “walking out” on their students, but instead a “walk for students.”

“It’s a march for our students. I love my community, and I love my students,” she said, in a prior interview. “I’m proud to be an educator in this district, and I believe Colleton County School District leaders are doing the best they can. But we are asking the state to provide our district and other districts with more resources.”
Locally, Colleton County teachers who want to march for change are a part of a group of Colleton County educators who are supporting this movement – Colleton County Educators SCforEd. This group is an extension of the larger, statewide, SCforEd group. Locally, these efforts are being led by Jessie Preacher.
“When the idea for #AllOutMay1 was proposed by SCforEd, I started to hear a buzz from teachers in other districts about participating,” said Preacher. “SCforEd has done so much work within the last year to advocate for public education. I felt like we needed to stand behind them so that their efforts wouldn’t go to waste.”
“I think that #AllOutMay1 was a wake-up call for the decision makers in our state,” said Preacher. “Teachers have a reputation of being silent on issues related to our jobs. Year after year, we make it work with what we are given. I believe that May 1 has made many of our lawmakers realize that it is time to start giving education in our state the consideration it deserves,” she said.
With the event over, teachers are asking members of the public to continue to ask for change by talking to their legislators. The current S.C. Legislative Session ends this week. However, the next session resumes in the fall of 2019. “There is still an opportunity for people to reach out to your legislator, to show support and to advocate,” said Pearson.
Preacher says she is hoping that education will be given much more consideration in upcoming legislative sessions. These sessions will determine if the teachers’ requests will be met.
“We are hoping that when the next legislative session begins, educators will be brought to the table to have a say in the decisions being made,” she said.
Because of the walk that occurred May 1st, the Colleton County School District chose to close school countywide. As a result of that school closing, the Colleton County School Board held a special board meeting to discuss how to make up that lost day of instruction.
The board has voted to waive the day, meaning the missed instructional day will not have to made-up, according to school district Spokesman Sean Gruber.
For more information on the march or teacher advocacy or for information on the state’s ongoing legislative reactions to teacher union requests, visit www.ed.sc.gov.

Heather Walters (1626 Posts)