Senate Report: Education Reform

The Senate has set S.419, the education reform bill as its top priority. While this bill is currently being debated within the Senate chamber, this will not be a speedy process. We fully intend to give this bill the due diligence that it deserves.
However, I do not simply want “education reform” —which implies a one-time fix and then you move on. What South Carolina’s education system needs is to be modernized and brought into the 21st century. A new system that is a state of the art program for our most precious resources — our children.
There is never a one-time fix for something this vast but for the first time I feel the swell growing and am heartened by the commitment of the State’s leaders in creating a new progressive learning system where every child can grow to meet the profile of the graduate. Two subjects that continuously surface during the debate of this bill, mandatory testing and class size.
Mandatory testing is an issue that has frequently come up within discussions. Most feel that it is very important to reduce mandatory testing in order to minimize time spent testing to insure maximum classroom instruction time is available. Many mandatory tests at the state level are required to meet federal education standards. Testimony from the committee process revealed that on top of state required tests – local districts require additional tests to prepare for state tests.
Class size is now driven by a district’s budget. Statutory class size limits, enacted in 1984, were suspended in 2007 (during the economy’s downturn) as a way to help deal with budget deficits and the flexibility still remains. Regulations issued by the State Board further define limits by grade and subject area.
We will continue to debate this very important issue.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011. My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] scsenate.gov. My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or e-mail me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.