Advocates pushing for SC bill to give teachers freedom of speech at school

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Education advocates across South Carolina say they are pushing for a bill that would essentially give teachers freedom of speech inside and out of their classrooms.

This bill was filed weeks ago but has not been moved through the state house at all.

Local educators say they may be okay with speaking up, but many other teachers aren’t because there could be consequences.

For instance, if a teacher were to speak out about a school policy, then they could be taken into the principal’s office and be given consequences for speaking against the school or district.

“This is retaliation against teachers. We want them to feel comfortable sharing their stories,” said Trever Etminan, a S.C. For Ed representative and teacher.

Currently, the idea is that many teachers say they can’t show any sort of opinion at all.

“There are 23,000 members in S.C. For Ed and the amount of people who have said ‘I would if I could’ are double that,” said Megan Deutschmamn, another S.C. For Ed member and teacher.

But these advocates say if teachers are continually silenced, the results won’t get better.

“What even more people will do is leave the classroom permanently because that’s what they are already doing,” Etminan says.

That is where State House bill 3215 comes in.

It’s unofficially named “The Teacher Freedom of Speech” and it would protect teachers when they speak up for what they believe in.

“This will cost the legislation nothing. So why can’t we do it,” Etminan says. “Those are the things causing teachers to leave the classroom.”

They hope that their voices will be heard and their concerns addressed by taking action with the teacher voice bill.

H. 3215 has been stuck in the same spot since early January. It was last referred to Committee on Education and Public Works on Jan. 8 and has been stagnant in the state house ever since.

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