COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) - Kathy Maness with the Palmetto state teachers association says South Carolina's Education Reform Bill does some things well.

"There's a LOT in this bill," she told FOX Carolina.

She's thrilled the 65-page legislation talks about giving teachers an extra 5 days of planning.

"We're hearing from teachers that they need more time," Maness explained. "And many teachers go in the summer and actually spend time getting their rooms together and what not."

She also likes that it has the potential to push start dates up a week.

"They want to finish that first semester before the winter break," she said of teachers she's spoken to. "And by moving it up that week, it will be very helpful."

But she still thinks things are moving a little fast.

"I've been up there a long time, and I don't think I've ever seen a bill called up for special order on the first day of session," she reflected.

Others like Lisa Ellis with SC for Ed are taking that a step further.

"Pushing it through with special order today really sent a message that they're not willing to debate," she remarked. "This affects every child in South Carolina."

Ellis says teacher reaction has been grim.

"The comments that we've heard are 'well, this is gonna be my last year in teaching,' or 'well I thought I could hang in there a little bit longer, but I don't think I can,'" she said.

She says--although lengthy--the bill does nothing to address their biggest concern.

"When you look at what the biggest issue is public education today's the lack of teachers in the classroom. The teacher shortage," Ellis explained.

On that front, Maness also agrees. Her association wants added steps to the pay ladder.

"Right now, if I've been teaching 30 years, and you've been teaching 23 years, we're making the same amount of money," said Maness.

Ellis also adds: there's no mention of improving working conditions. Something she calls "demoralizing to the industry."

"Now you've got the teachers who have hung in there, thinking things would get better. And they're just tired and beat down," Ellis said.

Copyright 2020 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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