• SC lawmakers continue to make adjustments to education bill

    By: CHRISTINA L. MYERS, Associated Press

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina House lawmakers have already passed a sweeping proposal to overhaul the state's education system, but their colleagues in the Senate are still working on their own version of the bill and are weeks away from being finished.

    A massive bill passed the House last week. The Senate, meanwhile, has had a subcommittee meet numerous times to examine specific portions of the bill. Senators also are holding public meetings across the state, subcommittee chairman Greg Hembree said.

    Senators have already removed several sections of the bill including a proposed Student Bill of Rights and Zero to Twenty Committee that would have served as oversight for education from pre-kindergarten to technical colleges.

    The Senate committee will continue to make the lengthy legislation "lighter" while also looking to make key additions based on concerns they have heard from teachers, Hembree said. Among those additions are a guaranteed 30-minute break built into their workday which was in the House's version of the bill lawmakers passed last week, Hembree said.

    "There are some other public safety things like the ability to control the classroom; to give the teacher a little bit more of a voice in impacting that," the Little River Republican said.

    Hembree said the Senate subcommittee has about three more weeks of work, then there will be a briefing for the full Senate Education Committee, which is expected to send the bill to the Senate floor sometime in April as the session winds down.

    Hembree said he hopes the House will agree with the changes the Senate is making in the bill, but if they don't, he thinks the House and Senate should be able to reach a compromise and pass some changes this year.

    The Senate subcommittee has already held public meetings in Hartsville and McCormick with meetings set for next week in Gaffney and Georgetown. Hembree said they have heard concerns over state-mandated testing, pay raises and allowing teachers more of a voice in how to control their classroom.

    "At a point you start hearing the same concerns come up again and again, which is good. It's giving us some ideas of where the problems really are," Hembree said.

    Next Up: