Senator Chip Campsen Sets the Record Straight on Public Education
I am a graduate of Wando High School, one of the finest high schools in South Carolina. It prepared me well for college and post-graduate degrees. I’m a product and proud supporter of South Carolina public schools. A lot of misinformation has been spread about my education record, and I want to set the record straight.
Superintendent of Education
An effort is afoot to label me an enemy of public education and a stooge of federal officials. Apparently, it is because I believe business and professional people should be eligible to serve as our Superintendent of Education, which is similar to the federal structure. I authored a law to that effect which passed the Senate unanimously, and the House by a vote of more than 75%.
If this makes me an enemy of public education, almost the entire General Assembly is an enemy of public education as well. This just demonstrates how patently absurd the allegation is.
Teachers Bill of Rights
I’ve been accused of being against the Teachers Bill of Rights. I actually authored an amendment creating the Teachers Bill of Rights, and a vast majority of my colleagues joined me in voting for it.
The Senate arrived at consensus on the matter after extended debate. Policies embodied in my Teachers Bill of Rights Amendment would be retained, but no legal cause of action would be created. The principle is classrooms should be bastions of education, not litigation. I agreed with that consensus and joined my colleagues in voting unanimously for a version of the Teachers Bill of Rights that creates pro-teacher policies – but not lawsuits arising from the classroom.
Teacher Pay Increase
The Senate budget was slated to increase teacher pay by $3,000 per teacher, taking it above the southeastern average. I supported that increase, but it never came to a vote due to COVID-19. In September, with diminished revenue forecasts, I supported $50 million of teacher step increases which passed. It’s one of only two budget items we increased. The House plans to take up the teacher pay increase in January.
School Funding & Equity
I authored and passed the Future Scholar 529 Plan that created over $4 Billion to fund K-12 and college expenses. I authored and passed legislation that assured James Island High School would be treated equitably when the school board made the school, its teachers and students ineligible for grants and Teacher of the Year awards. When Lowcountry public schools got short-changed under state funding formulas, I led efforts to change those formulas, bringing over $30 Million additional dollars to Lowcountry public schools since 2010.
Charleston County School Board
As Chairman of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation, when parent concerns about school attendance plans were not clearly addressed, I convened a joint public meeting of the Delegation and School Board so teachers, parents and students could understand and the School Board’s plans. I then worked with Delegation members to phase-in a single member district plan for future school board elections. When parents and teachers expressed concern over plans to reopen schools this fall, I convened a public meeting of the Delegation with Superintendent Postlewait so teachers, parents and students could understand School District plans for educating and protecting students, staff and teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.