COLUMBIA, S.C. — Teacher advocacy group SC for Ed has made changes to their original plans to protest in the capital city Monday.
Due to threats and harassment, the group says they feel safer working from a local angle.
“The mental impact of if anything went wrong, we weren’t willing to take that chance amid the growing number of violent messages.”
"Enough is Enough," was the message behind the 7-hour protest planned for Monday at the State House, Department of Education and governor’s mansion in Columbia, South Carolina.
“That’s what Monday was about," founder and board member for SC for Ed Lisa Ellis tells News19, "it was an opportunity to protest the mistreatment of teachers -- from not only the governor and the superintendent of education -- but also from some parents, districts and the state for that matter.”
While the organization was planning for this event, Governor McMaster issued an executive order overturning mask rules in public schools and those issued by local governments.
“While governor McMaster's mask mandate wasn’t the reason for it, it really was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back," Ellis says.
According to Ellis, SC for Ed and teachers around the state began receiving threatening messages and harassment that left the group with their hands tied. “It just really got to a point where we felt very threatened and we did not feel safe at all to hold a protest in Columbia," she said. "At the very crux of this, we don’t want anybody to get hurt in this situation, particularly teachers, particularly our colleagues, particularly those who have dedicated their lives to helping children.”
“And it wasn’t just about the masks," said Kim Woods, a teacher in Richland County. "I think that was a big misconception also."
Woods was planning on attending the protest with her teacher friend, Evie Holliday.
"I do feel like they were kind of bullied into doing it. So now we’ve been silenced by a very small minority of people -- some of whom do not even have children in school," Woods adds.
“When we hear statements like ‘teachers don’t like students because we don’t want to be in the class with them,’ that’s not true. We didn’t say we didn’t want to be in the class with them, we said we want to safely be in the class with them," Holliday tells News19.
But for now, plans have changed to advocate from home.
“We’re hoping that teachers will still take the day – I’m still taking the day and will spend it advocating for myself and ultimately for my students," Ellis says, "but it's just going to be much more of an online presence or a local presence in smaller groups than a big protest in Columbia.”
The group is also sending out 'Enough' bingo cards -- in true teacher fashion -- giving advocates things to do to support their cause.