by John Steinberger | September 7, 2016 2:29 pm
State Representative Wendell Gilliard has drafted legislation to require South Carolina schools to offer courses which teach the skills needed for the emerging jobs in manufacturing and technology, beginning in 6th grade. He previewed the legislation at a recent meeting of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation Education Committee.
Gilliard’s colleague Representative Chip Limehouse called the proposed legislation “prescient” and says it has the potential to change the culture and increase the standard of living in the Lowcountry. He said, “Representative Gilliard’s plan is a game-changer. It would give students in tri-county area the opportunity to get the high-paying, high-tech jobs at Boeing and Volvo that are now largely being filled by people from out of state.
Other legislators in attendance included Representatives David Mack (Chair), Robert Brown and Mary Tinkler. The education discussion panel included Charleston County School District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait, NAACP leaders Dot Scott and Rev. Joseph Darby and education advocate John Butzon.
Postlewait expressed concern about the school evaluation system used by the South Carolina Department of Education and called on the legislators to develop a system focused on student yearly growth measures in the subject areas. Scott and Darby expressed concern about minority students being left behind in various school choice programs. Butzon noted that the problems Charleston County faces today are the same as they were 20 years ago.
Charleston County School Board member Michael Miller proposed changing the practice of placing first-year teachers in classrooms with the most at-risk students. He suggested that highly effective, experienced teachers are most needed in lower-performing schools. He said it would be ideal to have first-year teachers paired with experienced teachers in at-risk classrooms.
St. James-Santee constituent school board member Joe Bowers, who represents Awendaw and McClellanville, said that the school governance structure is an impediment to improvement. He noted that more authority should be conferred upon the eight constituent school districts and that the school district staff was incapable of managing the vast network of diverse schools from its downtown Charleston Central Office. “The needs of students in McClellanville are much different than those in North Charleston or James Island,” he said.
The Charleston County Legislative Delegation will meet one more time before the General Assembly begins its 2017-8 session in January. Chairman Mack expressed his gratitude for the community input provided to the committee.
Photo | Courtesy of TheState.com
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