On Saturday February 29th, I was honored to attend the 25th Leap Year Birthday Celebration of former Mauldin Mayor L. S. Green, senior (who is actually 100 years old).

During the ceremony, a monologue was presented that walked us through Mr. Green’s Army career from the time he was drafted to Fort Jackson on November 26, 1941 until he was honorably discharged on September 24, 1945. The actor was dressed in full uniform like the one Mr. Green would have worn in WWII.

While at Fort Jackson, Mr. Green was attached to Battery B 553rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Automatic Weapons Battalion. During his service, he was deployed to Tunisia, North Africa; Naples, Italy; Rome, Italy; the Rhineland, Germany; and Central Europe.

He fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge under George S. Patton and received 5 Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, the French Legion of Honor (like our Congressional Medal of Honor), and the Army Good Conduct Medal. After his service to his country, he came back and continued to serve his community. To be a part of this ceremony was truly a humbling experience for me.

If you are keeping up with the news, we finally passed bill S 419, the Education Reform Bill. This is the bill we have been working on since January of 2019. We spent the last year listening to teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, students, and many others.

This bill is not the final bill on Education Reform – but it is a good start. There is still a lot of work to do, as the bill will go to the House to review. Then they will make changes and send it back to us. If we can get to an agreement, we will pass the bill. If we cannot reach an agreement, the bill will be sent to a Conference Committee.

Some of the highlights of the bill include:

• Elimination of three mandated state tests: Social Studies in 5th and 7th grades and Science in the 8th grade (We heard those that said there is too much testing)
• Guarantees a 30-minute unencumbered lunch period for teachers. (We heard over and over from elementary school teachers that they never get break time)
• The opportunity for Education majors to join Science and Math Majors in receiving an additional $2500 per year from lottery scholarships during their sophomore, junior and senior years. (Offers incentive to major in education)
• Expands 4K to all counties for children up to 180% of the Poverty Level. (It is amazing how many children in S.C. have never seen a book before entering 5K)
• Moves summer reading camps from after 3rd grade to begin after 5K, 1st grade, and 2nd grade (We know that if a child can’t read on a 3rd grade level by 3rd grade that chances of graduating from high school drop significantly and their chances of incarceration go way up)
• Gives an exit strategy for getting out of the School Districts that the state has gone into and taken over.
• Expands Lottery Scholarships to technical colleges and especially to those centered around our critical workforce needs. We mandated a lot of career counseling around this program so students know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

There are many other highlights in the Senate bill, but we will wait until we get a final bill to talk about those. For a list of other bills discussed last week, click here. Of special note to some of you, you will see we are getting a third reading this week on the left lane driver bill. Once we pass it, contact your House members and ask them to pass it.

As always, it is an honor to represent District 8 in the SC Senate. If you ever need my office to help you navigate State Government or just have a question, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my assistant in Columbia – Ja’vell Bynoe at (803)212-6148.