Lexington-Richland 5 schools closing Wednesday – S.C. Ed. Supt. Molly Spearman not joining teacher walkout
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman released a statement Monday regarding a scheduled teacher walkout and Statehouse rally, on Wednesday.
Teachers promoting the protest said the rally is necessary because their demands for a 10-percent salary increase, smaller class sizes and uninterrupted planning time are being unmet. The walkout is being organized by an online-based group of activists called “SC for Ed.”
All schools in Lexington-Richland School District Five will be closed Wednesday, due to the teacher rally at the State House. Offices, including the district office, will remain open.
One participating Midlands teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “May 1st is not about teacher gripe. I have been sad to see my fellow South Carolinians, who don’t work in public education and have no idea what we do, tell teachers that we need to “stop whining” and “be grateful.” That’s not what this is about. What May 1st is about is educational advocates from across our state rallying together to reflect.”
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, via his spokesman, said last week, the walkout sends the wrong message to students. McMaster spokesman Brain Symmes said the governor thinks the rally will unnecessarily disrupt schools and the schedules of working parents. and send the wrong message.
Spearman said: “I became a teacher because I love and believe in education and the needs of my students always came first. Now, as State Superintendent, my first responsibility and top priority is to the nearly 800,000 students of our state. That is why on May 1, I will not be joining those teachers who decide to walk out on their classrooms. Instead, I will be walking into the classroom of an absent teacher to serve as a substitute. I am not doing this to help facilitate the walkout, but rather to do all I can to ensure as many students as possible receive the instruction they deserve.
The Midlands teacher also said: “So many teachers and educational leaders that I have talked to are afraid of retaliation for supporting this event, or worse, have been directly confronted by their superiors for wanting to support positive change in South Carolina’s public education system. I share in those fears, however, this event is about more than myself. I have to know and believe that any sort of negative impact that comes my way from participating in this rally will also come with some amazingly positive change in our schools and for our students.”
Spearman continued: “All can agree that areas of South Carolina’s education system are in need of improvement. This year, I have worked with the legislature to raise teacher salaries, provide additional mental health and safety resources for all students, and reduce excessive testing that takes valuable time away from teaching. Progress continues to be made but much more needs to be done.
I support teachers using their voice to advocate for needed change and share in their commitment to ensuring reforms become reality. However, I cannot support teachers walking out on their obligations to South Carolina students, families, and the thousands of hardworking bus drivers, cafeteria workers, counselors, aides, and custodial staff whose livelihoods depend on our schools being operational.
I pledge to continue fighting to improve the opportunities and resources for all South Carolina students and teachers.”