Skip directly to content

INCREDIBLE Victories for Teachers & Kids

on Fri, 08/09/2013 - 14:03

Join EdFirstSC at no cost if you have not done so.


Over the last two years, EdFirstSC has been empowering people who care about education.  Members receive newsletters that keep them up to date on education issues and make it easy to contact policymakers. 

This simple formula for change has produced astounding results...



Gutting of Class-Size Limits: DOA

EdFirstSC: 3         Mick Zais: 0

Don't they call that a TKO?  No matter.

Retention Without Intervention STOPPED
…by EdFirstSC & Sen. Brad Hutto

You may recognize that name.  It was on the top of our call list for this campaign. 

This bill was widely considered inevitable.  Thank you Sen. Hutto and everyone who reached out!!! 

Kids should not be retained on a test score alone, and teachers should not have to pay up to $4,800 for mandatory training. 

EdFirstSC: 2        Mick Zais: 0

Charleston Teacher Salaries RAISED, Pre-K  EXPANDED, Computer Labs STAFFED
CCSD teachers will receive a 1.4% raise above their step increase!  Other issues made progress despite shortsighted board members.

This builds on the work EdFirstSC did last year to secure a 2-step increase and 2% raise.

Don’t believe the hype: this glass is more than half-full.  The Senate reaffirmed that they would not support broad voucher initiatives.

Parent-Trigger STOPPED

Sen. Ford’s parting gift to the school privatization industry was rejected.  No word on the reaction from his other “gift” recipients

Poor Howard Rich.  He lost a good man.  I wonder how he felt when he heard where his $6,000 donation went.

Gov. Appointment of State Supt. DEFEATED
You still get to vote for State Superintendent, despite the wishes of Gov. Haley & Supt-for-Now Zais. 

EdFirstSC & The SCEA: nobody else was on the field. 

Education Funding BOOSTED
Lobbyists were told they were “nuts” when they asked for an increase.  That’s why you need activists, too.  25,000 emails + 500 phone calls = $175 million.

Zais Evaluation Plan STOPPED
He’s still pretending this didn’t happen.

Sorry, buddy.  You don’t get to grade teachers A-F based on test scores of kids they’ve never even met.
He’s still pilot testing, and hoping for a rematch.  Ready when you are, Mick.

EdFirstSC: 1                  Mick Zais: 0 

Berkeley School Bond PASSED
An uphill climb for something that should have been obvious.  Glad to have helped.

Candidates ENDORSED
“Hi Senator.  We spoke about your endorsement back in October.”  Never gets old.

EdFirstSC will continue to endorse members of both parties, strictly on the basis of what they are willing and able to do to advance public education.

Sumter Waiver DENIED
Sumter was one of only two districts that had the gall to request a waiver from mandatory step-increases after years of salary freezes.

The SCEA led the charge on getting it squashed, and we were right there with them.

With The SCEA's support, courageous Sumter teachers recently enjoyed the pleasure of driving Supt. Randy Bynum out of town after two years of destructive policies, harassment, and intimidation.

I had the pleasure of congratulating him on his retirement (video).  He's on the left.

Haley Teacher Salary Veto OVERRIDDEN
You’re a Republican governor with a Republican legislature in a conservative state.  What does it say when only three legislators uphold your budget veto? 

When Sen. Lee Bright is one of the three, it’s not flattering.

Step-Increases RESTORED
The legislature left the salary freeze in place despite a billion dollar surplus. 

Our campaign launched on Monday.  By Thursday, we had a budget amendment that secured over $40 million for South Carolina teachers.


Join EdFirstSC at no cost if you have not not done so.



Primary Election Endorsements for State Supt.

Our long nightmare is over. A responsible adult will be leading the SC Dept. of Ed in January.

Molly Spearman (R) will face Tom Thompson (D) and Ed Murray (American Party).  Any of them would do a fine job.

Turnout was crazy low.  Your vote never counted more.  We dodged several bullets here.

Zais Evaluation Plan: Round 2

The State Bd. passed this out of sheer screaming terror of losing our NCLB waiver, and only after being assured that it could be revised later.

Your outpouring of concern led directly to significant improvements:

  • Districts will not be required to use student surveys or schoolwide test scores (both are now optional). 
  • At one time, test scores were slated to be at least 50% of a teacher's evaluation.  That's now down to 30%
  • Letter-gradesfor teachers are long-gone.

Mick had better enjoy this while it lasts.  No remaining candidate for State Supt. is likely to leave this in place.  Aren't you glad you voted?

Implementation has already been pushed back a year, and the federal gov't is backpedaling furiously on its waiver policy.

No regrets here.  We had very solid response and turnout.  Everything that could be done was done.

Sen. Thurmond Teacher Dismissal Bills

My senator whiffed in his first high-profile at-bat: a series of bills that would have allowed districts to fire & publicly shame teachers without cause

You spoke up, and the bills were DOA

There is no evidence that anything was learned from the experience.  Stay tuned.

Zais: Gutting Class-Size Rules

This destructive proposal was on greased skids before we called attention to it.  Almost instantly, it was dead in its tracks.  Well done, folks!

This PR debacle put the final nail in Mick's political coffin.  See you on the golf course, ol' buddy!

Charleston Merit-Pay Fiasco (aka "BRIDGE")

Your input had a massive impact.  Timelines were pushed back, leadership was shuffled, and the program is under harsh board scrutiny that is long-overdue.

Better turnout at the Jan. board meeting could've killed it outright.  Thanks to everyone who stood with me.

Many district officials wish we'd succeeded. 

Deadline after deadline has been blown.  Teacher workgroups were led in circles for a year.  SLOs were rushed through production with volatile assessments that have weak links to the objectives being evaluated.

The SC Dept of Ed has refused to support Charleston's bid to withhold step-increases and supplements for advanced degrees

If this program outlives the grant, it will most likely be a bonus on top of promised salaries.  That's still bad news for teachers & kids.  They need support, not pressure.

So far, the federal gov't has sent Charleston $16 million from its Teacher Incentive Fund.  The first payout to teachers will be $900 thousand

Perhaps the goal is to motivate us all to become consultants and district-level staff?

I had words with US Sec. of Education Arne Duncan about this nonsense over the summer.  Not kidding.

Read to Succeed

Please don't misunderstand me: this is a stupid, stupid bill that will hurt children.  Watching this process up close sickened me to the core.

That having been said, the bill that passed this year is significantly better than the piece of trash we stopped last year. 

There is serious funding for some reading interventions, parents have the right to appeal a mandatory retention, and teachers will not have to pay out-of-pocket for additional coursework.

None of that would have happened without opposition.  Resistance is rarely futile.


Sen. Marlon Kimpson Endorsement

Marlon Kimpson won a special election for SC Senate here in Charleston County, with our strong support.

Why am I mentioning him statewide? 

Because I firmly believe you will hear his name again.  That will be a very good thing.

Voucher Town-Hall Meeting

A statewide series of meetings was planned on making Sen. Larry Grooms' voucher experiment permanent.

Oddly, only one meeting was ever held, in North Charleston.  Why?

Because we beat Larry Grooms like a circus monkey in his own backyard.  That's why.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made the night a huge success!

Turnout isn't's theONLY thing.  Nobody can tell your story like you can.

Andy Patrick Teacher Evaluation Bill (50% VAM)

Everybody had a piece of this one.  Legislators got the message and ran from it in all directions.

Michelle Rhee tried (and failed) to resuscitate it.

She couldn't do any better for Rep. Patrick's bid for State Supt

When the FBI, CIA, & Secret Service all take an interest in your ugly divorce, it's time to step aside.  And pay your child support.  With real money.

Clearly, the man needs spiritual guidance. 


Probably best not to turn to the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Samuel Rivers (Berkeley).

It shouldn’t be hard to find a minister whose PhD in theology isn’t a fake

Rep. Rivers also took $6,000 from NY voucher-pusher Howard Rich (nearly a third of his campaign funds).


Apparently, the Lord is totally cool with shell corporations set up to evade campaign finance laws. 


Join EdFirstSC at no cost if you have not done so.