PEP Policy Agenda


Our 2018 policy agenda details our advocating stance on several key pieces of education legislation we feel are important levers towards creating quality public education in Greenville County and South Carolina. While all of these issues are being addressed, we feel that teacher recruitment and retention is the most pressing.

South Carolina’s teacher shortage issue is very important to Public Education Partners and we are positioning ourselves, in 2018 and beyond, to take action on legislation that strengthens teacher recruitment and retention practices and policies.

As part of Proviso 1.92 of the 2017-2018 Appropriations Act, the Committee for Education Recruitment and Retention studied this issue and made necessary recommendations to our state General Assembly that will help increase the number of teachers in South Carolina and retain our state’s top teaching talent.


ISSUE 1:  TEACHER RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

Background & Key Data

  • There are over 7,400 teaching positions available in South Carolina and there is a steady decline of teacher certifications issued from state post-secondary institutions. In 2013, 2,447 teaching certificates were issued in SC and only 1,898 in 2016—a decrease of 23% in just three years.
  • In Greenville County alone, 442 teachers did not return to their position at the end of the 2016-17 school year (8.3% job turnover rate) and of those more than half (55%) were either first-year (“induction”) or early-career teachers

PEP Policy Statement

Public Education Partners supports legislation that enhances individuals in the education field to gain a greater collective advocacy voice, creates the necessary salary advances to recruit and retain more SC teachers, assists former and current students with the completion of their teacher certification, and strengthens the overall quality of the teaching profession.


ISSUE 2:  EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM & FULLY FUNDING THE BASE STUDENT COST

Background & Key Data

  • With the recent dismissal of the 1993 Abbeville case (which found systemic educational inequities in the SC’s poorest counties), there is growing concern about the way SC schools are funded and if the current formula is equitable and reliable.
  • For a decade, the EFA, or “base student cost”, has not been fully funded by the state.
  • When combined with the creation of Act 388 in 2006 (which transferred the funding source for public education from a stable property tax revenue base to the less predictable state sales tax), South Carolina is overdue for a review and restructuring of our education funding formula.

PEP Policy Statement

Public Education Partners wants the General Assembly to meet their statutory mandate to completely fund the EFA and PEP supports legislation to reform public education funding.


ISSUE 3:  DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS (DACA)

Background & Key Data

  • South Carolina and Alabama are the ONLY states that strictly prohibit undocumented students from attending public universities, colleges, two-year colleges, or receiving  state professional licenses, even if they are able to pay for these higher education opportunities themselves.
  • Undocumented students are, however, allowed to attend our public K-12 schools, where many thrive.
  • High achieving undocumented students cannot continue their education here, requiring them to leave SC to continue their education. This means that they will contribute to other economies and communities and build on the educational investment that was provided by our public schools, rather than keeping those investments here.

PEP Policy Statement

Public Education Partners feels strongly that undocumented students should be allowed to attend public postsecondary institutions and be able to obtain professional licensing in South Carolina.


ISSUE 4:  SCHOOL BUS SAFETY AND FUNDING

Background & Key Data

  • According to reports from SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, the number of 1995-1996 buses in the state fleet that experience “thermal events” or catch on fire is 1,140.
  • In Greenville County Schools, approximately 35% of the regular route buses are 15 years or older and 93% of the district’s spare buses are 15 years or older. During the 2016-2017 school year in Greenville County, buses in the district’s state bus fleet broke down more than 3,500 times.

PEP Policy Statement

Public Education Partners calls for the General Assembly to appropriate the $34.1 million needed per year over a 15-year cycle to replace all buses in the state, as stipulated by Act 79 in 2007, and remove all 1995-1996 buses from the state fleet. We are grateful for the increased funding the General Assembly has provided in the past few years towards purchasing new buses and for overriding the Governor’s veto so the lottery surplus may be used for purchasing new buses (January 2018). However, the state still has far to go in removing all buses most likely to cause “thermal events” and in creating a recurring funding stream for future bus replacements.


ISSUE 5:  TUITION TAX CREDITS

Background & Key Data

  • South Carolina’s special needs tuition tax credit program, which has been operating for the past five years through a budget proviso, will likely seek permanent funding and expansion in 2018.
  • The current program awards scholarships provided by donors who receive a tax credit, and the program is limited to eligible children identified as students with special needs.

PEP Policy Statement

Public Education Partners strongly opposes any state or federal legislation efforts to directly or indirectly subsidize private, religious, or home schools with public funds.


ISSUE 6:  SCHOOL START DATE

Background & Key Data

  • In 2006, SC enacted a uniform school start date that stated (with very few exceptions) no school could start classes prior to the third Monday in August.
  • Many school districts, teachers, and parents, however, would prefer that the first semester end before the winter break holiday.
  • That becomes difficult depending on where the third Monday of August falls on the calendar (i.e. if it is very late in the month).

PEP Policy Statement

Public Education Partners believes that state law should change so each school district has the autonomy to determine when best to start its own school year.