Guest Column: The Battle For Better Schools

Jacorie McCall: “I understand every student may not want to go to college, but every student should be able to read.”

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One year ago, I was writing my syllabus and reading the South Carolina standards for U.S. History. I was nervous, optimistic and excited to tackle the subject. I was excited to teach.

Many people have made comments on rural schools in South Carolina. They have mentioned how far we are behind in education. They have complained about the low pay of teachers and the lack of help from their selective district offices. We have been used as political talking points – and used as models in foundations of education courses.

 I worked at a school in Dillon County with a fully appointed school board.

I cannot speak for every teacher, and I honestly would not want to. I am a black male, and my teaching experiences were very different from my counterparts, as they should be.

In my experience in teaching, I found pleasure in shaping the minds of the next generation. I found love in teaching about the separation of powers, the three branches of government and the rule of law. The best part of my job is introducing them to constitutional principles that are beyond relevant in today’s political discourse.

But amid the many good moments, teaching had many challenges. Many things could have been more consistent in the job. Many rules and policies change as fast as the day. There is an overbearing idea that when a teacher is teaching, an administrator can interrupt to ask questions that should be able to wait for a break. There are also so many training sessions and meetings which are scheduled during teacher planning time that it becomes challenging to stay ahead or get ahead some days.

I know our education system in rural South Carolina is in trouble. I know many things must change. But one right thing is that many teachers love their students. Teachers believe in students being able to go above and beyond what they academically feel capable of doing.



For our education system to improve, many school districts – and our S.C. General Assembly – must include teachers in all parts of the conversation. My needs in rural South Carolina differ significantly from those in Greenville or Spartanburg. Teachers have only been briefly included in this discussion – and our education system has taken the heat because of it.

Raising teacher pay is very important – and our state has led in doing so – and they have also given more money to get teachers’ supplies. But class sizes must be addressed at the state level. The amount of standardized testing must also be decreased, and much more focus should be placed on English.

I understand every student may not want to go to college, but every student should be able to read.

Watching so many students struggle because they cannot simply read is one of the hardest things about teaching.

As a South Carolina citizen, I bear the responsibility of a failing education system. And because of that, I dedicated my year to teaching. To learn. To listen.

Many people have commented on the need for a fully elected school board in Dillon County. I am still determining if they are right or wrong because as I talk to my peers in the profession with selected schools, they struggle with the same issues. Accountability is essential and due process is a much-valued process that could increase our learning model in Dillon County. It is vital to have residents in your community buy into the system in all areas of the school system. The strongest academic students I taught were those whose parents were constantly involved. In all areas of education, parents must be included, even if the conversation is complicated.

I don’t know how to fix all the issues, but one thing that will improve education is listening. To teachers that have been in the game for years. New teachers. Teachers who are retired. All teachers in every area of South Carolina.

As a teacher, I always had a great relationship with my South Carolina delegation. One of the substantial aspects of our school board, I had a direct line to our legislature. I could discuss issues that made their way to Columbia because many other districts had the same problem. However, the communication between the delegation and teachers in other districts could have been more robust. As of May 30th, I left the profession to begin a new adventure in law school. But my fight and my love for education has just begun.



Jacorie McCall (Provided)

Jacorie McCall is a 23-year-old Clemson University alum. His goal is to further his education in law and government. “I have a love for our country, state and community,” he says. “I believe that one person can make a difference with hard work, the right tool and the opportunity.”



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