South Carolina’s Sheheen releases public school plan
South Carolina Democrat Vincent Sheheen released his plan to improve the state’s public schools. His proposal includes expanding access to kindergarten for four-year-olds, increasing teacher salaries and reducing the number of students in classrooms.
Senator Vincent Sheheen released this education initiative weeks before meetings he will hold with teachers and parents.
The last two years, Sheheen has successful pushed to expand state-paid, full-day kindergarten for 4-year-olds to more school districts. With $20 million more in the 2014-2015 budget, 61 of the state’s 81 school districts provide access to the program, geared specifically towards at-risk students. Sheheen wants to open it up, eventually, to all 4-year-olds whose parents want them to attend.
The National Education Association reports that South Carolina’s average teacher salary ranks 33rd in the US. The average pay of $47,000 also includes bonunses paid to teachers with a National Board Certification.
To keep high quality teachers in the state’s schools, Sheheen wants to increase pay to $51,500, which is around the national average. He believes that will help attract students into the teacher field and prevent high-quality teachers from leaving.
“We need to show we value teachers more,” Sheheen said. “Many people never become teachers because they don’t think they make enough money, and we lose many high-quality teachers because they can make more money in other places.”
When it comes to an ideal class size, Sheheen says it is dependent on the grade.
The Senator realizes that the proposals would need to be phased in slowly, over the course of several years.
I really like Sheheen’s initiatives. At-risk students need early education, and teachers need to be both empowered and compensated fairly so they stay in the classrooms – where they are so desperately needed.