COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- Grassroots teacher advocacy group SC for Ed announced it would “indefinitely pause” many of the group’s direct advocacy efforts on Monday.
“As a group of unpaid teacher volunteers, we feel we have given all that we had to give in support of a goal of putting a highly-qualified teacher in every classroom,” the group said in a statement posted to social media. “While the state has continually fallen short of that goal, we do believe there is power in solidarity and fellowship among teachers, school staff, members, parents, and students, and we have seen the group provide a positive forum for that solidarity.”
SC for Ed, founded by former Democratic candidate for state superintendent Lisa Ellis, was started in 2018 for the purpose of “galvanizing teachers across the state of South Carolina to advocate on behalf of themselves and their students,” according to its website.
Leaders added that the group never intended to advocate for teachers, but rather provide educators with the tools to advocate for themselves.
“It has become clear that a small group of volunteers cannot maintain that solidarity alone, and that to try to do so leads to overly slow progress at best, and burnout at worst,” the statement continued. “It is important for those who support the preservation of public education to invest themselves, their time, and their energy, into that goal.”
Beginning Monday, the group said it will continue limited communications on its social media pages, but would no longer respond to emails and direct inquiries or hold events.
In May 2019, SC for Ed organized a rally at the South Carolina Statehouse where more than 10,000 teachers and supporters gathered to demand more funds to reduce classroom sizes, address the teacher shortage, hire school counselors, and raise educators’ pay.
In Monday’s statement, the group highlighted what they call a growing trend of “increasingly harmful and discouraging attacks on the rights of students, teachers, and families” that they believe is hindering the state’s education system.
“…including the failure to equitably fund schools, the promotion of anti-teacher conspiracy theories, and the passage of voucher bills that redirect funds away from our community public schools and towards unaccountable private entities,” the statement said.
Last month, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a private school voucher bill into law that will eventually allow up to 15,000 students in the state to use public money for private schools. Opponents have argued that the idea takes money from public schools that already are not fully funded.
While SC for Ed plans to suspend most of its own activity, the group encouraged its members to support other national and statewide education advocacy groups in pursuit of “a better future for our state and especially for its children.”
You can read the full statement here.