James Smith will be an Education Governor who will prioritize recruiting and retaining great teachers, keep our children safe, pursue bold reforms, and advance modernization and innovation to transform our education system so that all students are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
South Carolina ranks 37th nationally in average teacher salaries. We cannot recruit teachers if we are not paying them a competitive wage. That is why James joins Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman in calling for a 2% raise for South Carolina teachers. But this is not enough. When James is governor, he will work to ensure that teacher salaries meet or exceed the Southeastern regional average.
On May 8, 2017, a 22-year-old school bus in Spartanburg caught fire with more than 50 students on board. Less than two months later, on June 12, 2017, Governor Henry McMaster vetoed $20.5 million in funding to replace aging and unsafe buses in South Carolina’s state-owned fleet. We must protect our children. James voted to replace state buses and when he is governor, he will fight to update the system that has woefully underfunded state school buses and left our children at risk.
According to a recent study, South Carolina has over 3,500 vacant technology jobs. However, we lack workers with the necessary skills to fill these positions. To develop a workforce equipped to compete for these high-paying jobs, computer science must be a core part of the curriculum our schools. James will work to ensure computer science courses are provided in all schools and advanced courses are offered in all high schools so that all students will graduate with fundamental technology skills.
Tuition costs are rising at an alarming rate as the current administration continues to underfund our colleges and technical schools. Nothing is more important to recruiting jobs, increasing incomes, and improving our quality of life than a trained, highly educated workforce.
Currently, our education funding formula rewards those districts with the tax base to raise local funds needed for high-quality schools. This places our rural districts at an extreme disadvantage. The amount of funding a school receives should not be determined by its geographic location but rather by its need. When James is governor, he will work with the legislature and school district leaders to develop a system that is equitable for all students.
For years, we have supported an education funding system that disenfranchises our poor and rural districts and leads to a system of “haves” and “have nots.” When James is Governor, he will reform the school funding formula and boost infrastructure and technology funding to change the “Corridor of Shame” to the “Corridor of Opportunity.”