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      Educators rally for more funding

      Protestors gather outside the Department of Education offices Monday, rallying against Superintendent Mick Zais' decision not to accept federal education dollars.

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Nearly 50 members of the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA) demonstrated outside the Department of Education Monday, to call on Superintendent Mick Zais to apply for $144 million in federal money for South Carolina schools.

      Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education said the federal bailout money meant for South Carolina's public schools will be doled out to the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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      SCEA President Jackie Hicks said, "I think it's sad that today we're not keeping our children first in public education."

      Zais says state and federal officials have known since September that South Carolina did not qualify for the money due to state cuts to colleges.

      "You've had over a year to work on this," Zais said of protestors rallying outside the education department. "I've been clear throughout my campaign for over a year on my stance on this."

      He says the money should go back into the treasury. Zais has previously said he refused to seek federal money because it often comes with too many strings attached and state schools don't need more federal intrusion.

      SCEA says the state needs to restore $50 million to higher education for Zais to be able to request the federal funding.

      "I have a problem with how the dollars are spent," said Zais. "Not enough money is getting to the classroom, and too many dollars are being spent on overhead facilities and administration."

      According to SCEA the funding could provide for about 2,880 teachers, based on an average teacher salary of $50,000.

      "It means a difference of between 28 to 35 hundred teaching jobs in the state," said Hicks.

      Do you think South Carolina should transfer funding to higher education and request the federal funding for education? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.