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Thousands of SC teachers considering calling out this week to advocate for better pay

A South Carolina teacher advocacy group is pushing for educators to take a personal day Wednesday to fight for better pay and more resources for schools.

FORT MILL, S.C. — Thousands of educators are contemplating calling out sick from work this week to protest teacher pay and conditions in classrooms.

Teacher advocacy group “SC for Ed” is organizing the mass call out, calling on educators to use that day as a call to action.

Fort Mill teacher and York County SC for Ed representative Ali Tracy-McHenry will be amongst the teachers opting not to teach Wednesday.

“Just because we have everything going pretty good so far in our area, lots of other schools and districts and teachers and kids are struggling hard and I think it’s important to stand up and make our voices heard for them,” McHenry said.

The advocacy group organized a march on the state capitol in 2019, calling for better pay for teachers, school support staff, and more per pupil spending.

RELATED: South Carolina teacher rally draws 10,000 to Columbia

Earlier this year, Governor Henry McMaster offered a compromise pay raise of several thousand dollars. Lawmakers this week now say due to budget challenges, they can no longer make good on that raise McMaster offered.

RELATED: Teacher pay raises up for debate in South Carolina

“We need to stand out, stand up and make our voices heard that we need this budget that our schools and our kids deserve it,” McHenry said.

The state legislators, in the middle of a special session to tackle the budget and other issues, appear to be poised to punt the budget to the next convening in early 2021.

“It’s unacceptable that schools are once again being put on a back burner,” McHenry said.

Meanwhile, concern is mounting among many educators as many school districts are moving toward sending more students back into classrooms full time.

A survey of more than 4,000 teachers and school staff across South Carolina conducted Sept 10th- Sept 18th found that the majority of respondents, 71% disapprove or strongly disapprove of the state’s handling of the coronavirus.

The survey also found inequities among school districts regarding PPE and cleaning supplies. Respondents from several school districts reported they did not receive the face masks and other supplies promised by state leaders.

Nearly 75% of teachers surveyed reported they are teaching a combination of virtual and in-person learning; many indicated they are required to do both at the same time.

“This survey really shows a lot of the struggles that teachers are facing,” Tracy-McHenry said. “We have to fight for these inequities in these districts.”

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