South Carolina is one of 11 states where a national teachers union is paying for education-related advertising campaigns this fall, according to officials with the SC Education Association.
SCEA President Roger Smith told Palmetto Public Record the group was awarded $128,800 though a National Education Association advertising grant. The grant is expected to take effect September 1, allowing the group to affect the fall election season or wait until the new legislative session.
NEA spokeswoman Stacey Grissom said the national teachers union sets aside about $1.9 million each year for state-level issue advertising. Grants are given to state affiliates based on how a campaign will “advance the cause of public education and publicize the role of the Association and its affiliates in improving the quality of public education,” Grissom said.
Smith said the SCEA’s advertising campaign will focus on an educational agenda which “puts students at the center of reform.” Though the details of the ad buy are still being negotiated, Smith told Palmetto Public Record the group aims to make South Carolina’s education system “the most choice-driven public school system in the nation.”
“Family involvement dramatically improves student performance,” Smith commented. “Offering families a decision about where their children attend school is one way to generate more family involvement.
Smith said the group also wants to make teachers’ salaries in the Palmetto State the most competitive in the Southeast. “In order to attract the best and brightest for our students, we need to fairly compensate the vast majority of teachers who do a great job, provide intensive training for struggling teachers and help them find another profession if they don’t improve,” he said.
The best way for teachers to improve, according to Smith, is to take charge of the teaching profession. “Ensuring student success in the fast-changing economy requires more from all of us,” he commented. “Teachers are the educational experts [and] must have a real say on how they are evaluated and held responsible.”