CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - As closures are coming in for schools across the state ahead of Wednesday’s education rally in Columbia, the Charleston County School District sent a statement saying it will remain open.
On Monday, an official with the district said 582 teachers had requested a sub for May 1, the day of the rally.
That’s more than Wando High School teacher Patrick Martin was anticipating.
Martin said he spent the weekend reaching out to colleagues to get a sense of how many teachers would be rallying with him in Columbia.
“We’re projecting 500 attending right now and we’ve tried to reach out to our colleagues to see if we can send representatives while also offering a good school day for our students as well,” Martin said.
The district said in a statement that they are making preparations to cover the classes.
“The District is in close contact with Kelly Services to arrange for additional substitutes. That will include all central-office staff in an effort to minimize disruptions to students’ instructional day,” the statement said.
“We understand teachers’ desire to advocate for improvements to our state’s educational system, and there is no reason to create divisions among those of us who share so many of the same goals," the CCSD statement continued. "However, the top priority for CCSD is the well-being of our students, many of whom depend on us every school day for nutrition and support, in addition to their instructional needs.”
Martin said students deserve the best, and that’s what teachers are trying to give them by going to the statehouse.
“We’re really looking for a one-day investment in a long-range permanent solution to issues that have been plaguing our state and education for years,” Martin said.
Martin said he has a few points they want to get across to lawmakers.
“One of the main reasons we want to have this rally is to clarify our expectations that this is not about less work for teachers and more pay its about having the time for teachers to do the work they already have better,” Martin said.
Martin also said they want this to be the beginning, not the end, of a long term-standing commitment that teachers want to invest in the future of our state.
“The goal really is to raise awareness to bring in business partner, parent partnerships and all of us work towards the common goal of trying to resolve funding issues that have long blighted our public-school system in South Carolina,” Martin said. “We’re looking to advocate for the funding systems so that rural schools are supported while not punishing more populated metropolitan areas. That’s a major goal is to ask for funding reform and ask for it now.”
Martin said they also want to address issues that they’ve heard from school administrators and board members, the way the state report cards are issued.
“I feel like the report cards have done nothing but hurt morale as well as hurt the progress of education today,” Martin said.
Martin said he also wants to advocate for more counselors and mental health supports for students.
“This is something I’ve been advocating for since the Parkland shooting last year,” Martin said “We feel students are asking for a cry for help. We need more mental health counselors on campus and resolving the funding issues could really help us increase the number of people on campus who are there to help students.”
Martin said he encourages teachers to let their district administrators know if they plan on missing the school day.