House Speaker Jay Lucas and Chairwoman Rita Allison of the Education and Public Works Committee hosted the Education Reform Student Advisory Council
On March 17, 2016, House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) and Chairwoman Rita Allison (District 36-Spartanburg) of the Education and Public Works Committee hosted the Education Reform Student Advisory Council (ERSAC) at the State House in Columbia. Chairwoman Allison formed the ERSAC earlier this year with the purpose of gaining students’ perspectives as the House of Representatives continues to reform public education. Prior to attending the meeting, students were given a State House tour and introduced in the gallery by Representatives on the House floor.
Immediately following the Abbeville decision, Speaker Jay Lucas created the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force to lay the groundwork for comprehensive education reform in South Carolina. The Task Force’s membership included former school administrators, Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, legislators familiar with the state’s budget process, representatives from the plaintiffs’ school districts, and experienced private sector job creators. The Task Force concluded its work at the end 2015 and presented their suggestions to Speaker Lucas. So far, six pieces of legislation have passed the House that grants the Department of Education the flexibility to assist struggling rural school districts and gives our teachers the guidance to provide our students with a 21st century education.
Chairwoman Rita Allison, who also chaired the Task Force, believed that our students needed a direct line of communication with lawmakers. The ERSAC is comprised of over thirty student representatives from each of the Abbeville lawsuit plaintiffs’ school districts. The respective school district superintendents were responsible for selecting one representative from the 9-12 grade level. The ERSAC will meet on a quarterly basis to give these young people the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with elected officials.
Quotes: “We have made tremendous progress this year to reform South Carolina’s education delivery system so that our students in every community are career or college ready. Job creators, superintendents and elected officials provide input and suggestions every day, but we seldom hear from our students. These bright and promising young people serve as a tremendous resource and I am confident that their contribution will help us improve education in South Carolina,” Speaker Jay Lucas said.
“If you want to know how our future looks and what we as decision makers need to know, enlist a group of students and your eyes will be opened. These 10th, 11th and 12th graders shared the challenges, concerns, needs and opportunities for their future," Chairwoman Rita Allison stated.