In the spring of 2009, teachers in Camden and across South Carolina were faced with the prospect of losing their jobs when Governor Sanford rejected $511 million in stimulus funds intended for public education.
State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex went to work, rallying the same coalition of Legislators he brought together to end the PACT test and reform South Carolina’s accountability system. The group ultimately found a way around the Governor’s objections, saving upwards of 5,200 teaching jobs and proving that a consensus on education issues can be reached, even in such challenging times. He could have stopped there and declared victory, but he didn’t. Instead, he has worked to expand programs vital to teacher advancement, helping the state win $47 million in Teacher Incentive Fund Grants to train, reward and support teachers. He also launched plans to create a Teacher Renewal Center for educators desiring to improve their skills and knowledge outside of a classroom setting, again showing an unrelenting dedication to assisting educators in their day-to-day work.
Public education in Camden and throughout South Carolina would have been in great peril without his bold leadership over the last four years. This is why teachers across the state should heed Rex’s call to be active and vote in November’s elections, regardless of their political affiliation. The next State Superintendent of Education matters, and teachers should make their voices heard.